Manchester submitted £600,000 transport bid amid cycle row

The city council met the deadline to submit a funding bid for cycling and walking interventions, but faced criticism over its refusal to provide pop-up bike lanes and other ‘active transport’ elements as neighbouring boroughs did.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been coordinating and collating bids from Greater Manchester councils, in order to submit a combined bid to the Government’s £250m Emergency Active Travel Fund last Friday.

The combined bid was expected to total £16m, although the GMCA has not confirmed the final submission.

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council told Place North West today: “[The council] can confirm that a package of bids was submitted to the fund, totalling around £600,000, for a range of cycling and walking interventions, which we want to pursue as soon as possible.”

Further details will be published this week, the spokesperson added.

The Whitehall fund is intended to help authorities fund changes to street layouts to make it easier for people to move around and avoid public transport while social distancing measures remain in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said when the fund was announced: “Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens, as well as lasting local economic benefits.

“The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”

However, over the weekend, critics slammed Manchester City Council on Twitter for failing to include the installation of temporary cycle lanes in its bid as other GMCA boroughs had done.

Lobby group Walk Ride Greater Manchester tweeted: [Manchester City Council] isn’t installing [temporary] bike lanes unlike other UK cities and against Government advice, citing lack of people cycling…

“We think [that] logic is flawed, as do some councillors, other Greater Manchester leaders and MPs.”

Andrew Gwynne, the MP for Denton and Reddish, tweeted: “Why I’m angry at @ManCityCouncil’s decision to not participate in @GMcycling pop-up lanes: from the West, you can almost reach ‘town’; from Stockport and Tameside there’s a five-mile gap.

“This is endangering lives and potentially increasing air pollution. Please think again!”

Labour peer Lord Tony Berkeley asked the House of Lords about Manchester’s refusal to provide pop-up bike lanes. “I congratulate the Government on its commitment to cycling, it’s really very good.

“However, although some local authorities are doing very well, there’s one in Manchester where there’s a complete problem, because the Greater Manchester mayor [Andy Burnham] and Chris Boardman [the cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester] are launching a 200-km temporary cycle lane this week, which has got one big hole in the middle because [Manchester City Council] won’t cooperate.

“So, could [UK ministers] please encourage Manchester to take part and work with other authorities to create this potentially fantastic new facility for cyclists.”

Writing for Place North West last week ahead of the deadline for bids, Steve Connor, chief executive of Creative Concern, called for the GMCA bid to help drive a lasting revolution in city-centre transport.

“Grasping the opportunity to keep the air clean and the noise levels down has to be of paramount importance as we work to ‘build back better’ and drive an economic recovery,” he wrote.

He said this week: “Manchester City Council really has had a very strong track record on cycling and climate change strategy, so it was extraordinary that last week it seemed to have stumbled.

“But I remain confident that it has the political will and intelligence to get back behind the walking and cycling cause.”

Further details of Manchester’s contribution to the GMCA bid are to be detailed in the coming days.


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