The Bee Network's story
Greater Manchester shares problems that are being felt across Britain — an obesity epidemic, air quality issues, and streets that are often clogged with motor traffic during peak hours. With congestion alone costing businesses in Greater Manchester £1.3 billion annually, business as usual cannot afford to go on. The evidence is clear that enabling residents to travel actively will lead to healthier, happier and more prosperous cities.
To unlock the potential of walking and cycling across Greater Manchester, one of the keys will be building major, fully segregated cycle ways on key routes; these must be safe, attractive spaces alongside high-quality footpaths.
Many local trips to schools, GP surgeries and shops could be made on existing quiet streets. At present, this is not possible due to most low-traffic, quiet areas being hemmed in by busier, intimidating roads. The Bee Network can unlock the potential of local roads and free up access for communities by providing easy crossing points, thereby unlocking opportunities to walk and cycle.
A good example is the CYCLOPS (‘cycle optimised’) junction in Chorlton – part of the four-mile long Chorlton Cycleway when fully completed – which is the first of its kind in the UK and enables cyclists to make a right hand turn without ever coming into traffic.
Useful learnings from The Bee Network
The Bee Network uses the symbol of the worker bee as a visual indicator of the wayfinding system, and is also synonymous with industry and unity.
To ensure consistency, it was helpful to have the Bee Network as a single design identity, especially as each of the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester took charge of creating their own plans to create the proposed cycling and walking infrastructure.
The Bee Network asked councils to consistently apply the following 8 principles to optimise the design of the network around humans rather than vehicles:
1. Streets should be places where people choose to spend time socialising rather than just save time passing through.
2. Street design should focus on moving people rather than traffic.
3. Dedicated separate space should be provided for walking and for cycle traffic.
4. People should feel safe, relaxed and secure on the street and not just in a car.
5. People should feel like they can stroll without delay and linger without issue.
6. Protection and priority should be given to people cycling and walking at junctions.
7. Health benefits should be highlighted and quantified for all street improvements.
8. Walking, cycling and public transport should go hand-in-hand.
To encourage further engagement with local communities, data on local air pollution and its reduction should be shared – as this directly benefits everyone who lives and works in the area.
Research about safer active journeys to/from school and more active neighbourhoods should also be shared publicly.
The Bee Network's metrics
Reduced air pollution
Improved flow of traffic