The Greater Manchester Mayor asked for patience from the public after the city council was criticised for gaps in its £600,000 bid to fund emergency active transport measures, and said that more time was needed to refine the plans.
Andy Burnham added that the city’s top priority was to pedestrianise streets to enable people to socially distance in areas of high footfall, rather than to provide cycling lanes.
Manchester City Council contributed a £600,000 bid towards a total £21.5m bid to the Government’s £250m Emergency Active Travel Fund, coordinated by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and submitted to Whitehall on behalf of the Greater Manchester authorities last Friday.
However, it later emerged that the city council’s bid had not included proposals for pop-up cycle lanes, unlike most of the other authorities, causing concern among various parties including councillors, MPs and campaign groups, such as Walk Ride Greater Manchester.
This would leave a five-mile gap in immediate cycling provision across the centre of the conurbation, said Andrew Gwynne, the MP for Denton and Reddish, called on Manchester to rethink its bid.
The mayor told a press conference today: “This [our Active Travel bid] isn’t the finished article and we need to balance road space with other users. It’s a work in progress. Give us time to get this as good as we can make it.
“Manchester City Council is working with districts to make sure it joins up the cycle routes proposed but that work is ongoing.”
He added that last Friday’s submission was a “first expression of interest” and more needed to be done to refine the proposals. The GMCA will continue to facilitate discussions about active travel across the Greater Manchester councils, Burnham said.
“The challenge that the city council has is with the [potentially high] footfall and creating space for pedestrians to socially distance, while also accommodating other road users such as cyclists.
“All 10 of our districts are looking at this very seriously and they are having to work at great speed given the timetables the Government has put down.”
Manchester City Council’s bid includes implementing temporary pedestrian and cycle-only zones at Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter, and on Ducie Street from London Road to Dale Street.
The bid also seeks funding to begin a longer term piece of work to permanently fill existing gaps in the city’s cycle network, “creating a more coherent and attractive connected set of routes”, Manchester City Council said.
The first phase of work would provide new cycle infrastructure for Lower Mosley Street and Princess Road in the city centre, plus Stretford Road in Hulme, Albert Street in Beswick and Parsonage Road in Withington.
The council added that it would work with neighbouring local authorities to facilitate the implementation of temporary pop-up cycle lanes approaching Manchester, to ensure that safety for all road users is prioritised.