Manchester share stories of commuting, cycling, working and living on Oxford Road

Artists, cyclists, vendors and students – the people who live, work and travel alone Europe’s busiest bus routes are telling their stories through a new project which will document life on Manchester’s Oxford Road Corridor.

The tales of those who spend their days on the bustling stretch of road in the heart of the city are being collected by researchers at the University of Manchester.

It is where Rutherford split the atom, Alan Turing pioneered the first computer, Graphene was first isolated and LS Lowry studied – and where thousands meet, greet, daydream, inspire, work hard, and play hard every single day.

Andrew Karvonen, co-director of cities@manchester and Senior Lecturer in Architecture & Urbanism at the university, said the project offers insight into how people interact with Manchester.

He said: “Stories from The Road provides unique insights into an important area of Manchester. It reveals the multiple ways that people experience and interact with the city.

“It shows how urban planning, architecture, and infrastructure networks combine to create a distinctive ‘sense of place’ – all through the words of those who experience this place first hand.”

The Stories from The Road project will map this part of the city through the words of more than 20 workers, commuters and residents who are part of its world-class universities, hospitals, scientific hubs and cultural attractions and the communities that they neighbour.

A doctor at St Mary’s Hospital, Rosie Nyabadza tells us in her story how she holds onto the wonder in life to stop herself from getting bored.

She said: “I think people allow themselves – not just in medicine, but in life – to get bored.

“But being alive is this complex amalgamation of processes that is so intricate – literally: moving your finger, or breathing, or whatever – that even in the most boring situations, that internal experience – knowing that just being here is already incredible – for me at least, makes it easy not to be bored.

“I try to find the wonder in things, to be interested and inquisitive. That’s what keeps me going.”

While artist Naomi Kashiwagi explains how what started as a friendly, creative gesture on her Oxford Road bus journey, inspired the palyfulness in her artworks.

She said: “Noticeably for me, over the past five years I’ve been incorporating small, often spontaneous gestures, actions, interventions that aim to catalyse the potential for joie the vivre and vivification into my everyday life and as a consequence, sometimes into the everyday lives of others.

“For example, I fold my bus tickets into origami animals and then give them back to the bus driver! I usually make a squirrel.” 

Oxford Road is one of the most important areas of economic growth in Manchester today.

The project is a collaboration between The University of Manchester’s urban research group cities@manchester and up and coming Manchester-based writer Sarah Butler.

Sarah’s first novel is called Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and her latest book is called Before the Fire.

You can read Stories from The Road here and the hashtag is #Mcr_OxfordRdStories.

Image courtesy of Pete Birkinshaw, with thanks.

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