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Business supportGlobal cities pave the way for Manchester’s return to work

Global cities pave the way for Manchester’s return to work

Greater Manchester is set to mirror actions taken by other cities across the world as they look to transform their roads, public footpaths and transport links in light of the coronavirus, according to Deloitte.

This comes after Deloitte’s research, conducted in partnership with Google, found that workers in Greater Manchester are opting for other ways of commuting, with public transport usage down 62 per cent in favour of a 22 per cent rise in cycling across the region.

Whilst these figures reveal changing attitudes towards travel, other figures show that many professionals are working from home entirely, with the number of people using workplaces down by 56 per cent since the UK entered lockdown.

To support the Greater Manchester ‘Build Back Better’ campaign, Deloitte has outlined ways in which local authorities will have to adapt in order to accommodate social distancing guidelines and new attitudes to commuting. Some of these measures include pedestrianisation of some streets to reduce motor traffic; new speed limits on town centre roads; introduction of heavy-duty barriers in busy areas to extend pavements; and maps and information packs for those walking or commuting by bike.

Examples from other parts of the world include Barcelona, which has set aside 21 kilometres of new bike corridors by replacing traffic lanes, and has committed €4.4m to adapting public spaces to facilitate more journeys by foot, bicycle or public transport. Amsterdam is encouraging citizens to walk or cycle and reduced speed limits from 50kph to 30kph.

In Sydney, buses are running at 14 per cent capacity, whilst trains will run at 24 per cent capacity. However, six pop up cycleways have been rolled out across the city, extending to 10 kilometres at a cost of $4m.

Simon Bedford, partner at Deloitte in the North West, said: “Cities across the world are facing one of the most extraordinary challenges in that their city centres will need a complete transformation. Manchester is facing a particularly tricky scenario as it is compact when compared to other European cities, and so we expect to see drastic changes to our roads and public footpaths to allow for social distancing between pedestrians.

“What will be interesting to see is how businesses, large and small, across GM and indeed the UK rise to this challenge and adapt to a potentially new way of life. It is essential that we address these issues quickly in order to minimise the threat that the virus poses to Manchester’s everyday worker, and the spotlight will be on government and local authorities over the next few months as we await to see the measures put in place.”

Sharon Thorne, Deloitte Global Board Chair, said: “The burden is not solely on the councils to make changes, but also employers as many workplaces will require completely new layouts to ensure social distancing measures can be adhered to. Larger office spaces may be required and new attitudes towards flexible working patterns may prove essential to keeping the risk of spreading infection to a minimum. Many businesses will have found success working from home during the lockdown, which will provide further challenges to management teams as they continue to rethink their real estate strategy.”

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