New analysis reveals more cars than ever in Manchester

September 22, 2022

New analysis by the Clean Cities Campaign shows the number of private cars owned in Manchester has rocketed from 117,388 in the first quarter of 2012 to 154,109 in 2022 – an increase of 31%. This is 2.5 times the average increase in England over the same period. The number of miles driven in cars in Manchester is also increasing. DfT data shows that more than 1.6 billion miles were driven in cars in Manchester in 2019, which has increased by 248 million miles when compared to 2012. With more and more people choosing to live in Manchester, there is a pressing need for the council to act so that the city is not overrun with cars, meaning less space on the streets, more air pollution, traffic congestion and an undermining of the council’s Climate Change Action Plan. cli Last month, Manchester City Council announced a six month trial pedestrianisation of Ancoats’ Cutting Room Square and it is hoped more schemes like this will follow. Campaigners are calling on the council to rethink its position on a Clean Air Zone and to turbo charge its ambitious transport plan, including proposals for pedestrian-priority streets and the Bee Network.  


Oliver Lord, UK Head of Clean Cities Campaign said, “There’s a simple formula here – more cars means less space for people and dirty air. The launch of Mayfield park today is a huge step towards bucking this trend and Manchester City Council must now turbo charge its ambitious transport plan by ensuring everyone in the city can enjoy their life without owning a polluting car. Manchester deserves London-style public transport and bike lanes but not London-style air pollution.”   


There has also been a year-on-year increase in car registrations across the city region. In Greater Manchester, there are now more than 1.12 million private cars and almost all of them (96%) use a polluting petrol or diesel engine. Dirty air already contributes to more than 1,000 early deaths a year in Greater Manchester and lifelong illness for many people, starting at an early age. Clean

Cities Campaign is releasing the analysis ahead of World Car Free Day on 22 September to raise awareness of car dependency. The day is promoted by the UN Environment Programme to highlight the impact of harmful vehicle emissions and to help champion car-free cities. New Clean Cities analysis published today shows that a car-free day every Sunday in Greater Manchester could save up to 800,000 barrels of oil a year.  


Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of Mums for Lungs, said: “Children in Manchester deserve better. Toxic diesel fumes are stunting the lungs of children growing up in cities and causing lifelong illnesses. If a charging and effective Clean Air Zone is not the answer for Manchester then we need to know what will be done to protect the health of the most vulnerable in our society.”  


Tim Dexter, Campaigns Manager for Clean Air at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “Greater Manchester has some of the highest rates of lung disease and childhood asthma emergency admissions in the country and when you look at the exponential growth of car ownership over the last decade, it’s clear to see why – people are literally choking on toxic levels of air pollution, which vehicle emissions are a leading source of. Introducing regular car free days in the city centre and beyond would not only offer some reprieve to those with lung conditions such as asthma and COPD, it would also encourage people to have a go at incorporating public transport and active travel into their daily routines.”  


Julia Kovaliova, TreesNotCars campaigner and parent living in Manchester, said, “My son suffers from asthma. We live in the city centre and we can definitely feel the effect that air pollution has on our lives. It is shocking that the number of cars is increasing so much in the city. Parents and kids need more public green space in the city centre and greener public transport infrastructure – more trees and fewer cars. I am proud of TreesNotCars stopping the car park development on the former Central Retail Park and I hope this new analysis will send a message to the council that they need to act.”  

Notes to editors:

Analysis of DfT dataset VEH0105 using data from the first quarter of each year between 2012 and 2022:

Total private cars registered 2012 (Q1) 2022 (Q1) % change
  Bolton 104,804 119,437 +14%
  Bury 76,865 83,165 +8%
  Manchester 117,388 154,109 +31%
  Oldham 77,020 89,735 +17%
  Rochdale 75,212 89,211 +19%
  Salford 74,382 92,134 +24%
  Stockport 130,880 139,252 +6%
  Tameside 83,383 95,679 +15%
  Trafford 99,568 107,031 +7%
  Wigan 130,858 149,740 +14%
  District unknown (GM) 203 129 n/a
Greater Manchester (total) 970,563 1,119,622 +15%
England (total) 22,133,856 24,834,520 +12%


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