Details of the Government’s plan to overhaul cycling and walking infrastructure in England have been welcomed by Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman, who said the city region now needs to bring about a “cycling revolution”.
Boardman said: “This is the biggest step forward for active travel that I have seen in my lifetime. For the past few months, we’ve effectively had a global consultation by turning off traffic overnight and by doing this we showed that people will choose to ride bikes when they feel safe.”
The details this week of the Prime Minister’s plan to upgrade the nation’s active travel provision followed the announcement of £2bn of funding for the project in February.
Greater Manchester’s Bee Network, a 1,800-mile scheme designed to connect the city through cycling infrastructure, is set to benefit from the Whitehall funding.
The Government’s cycling and walking plans include:
- More cycle racks installed at transport hubs for bike storage
- Increased provision of cycle training for children and adults
- Thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in towns and cities
- Boosting investment by creating a long-term cycling programme and budget to ensure a guaranteed pipeline of funding
- Making streets safer by consulting to strengthen the Highway Code to better protect pedestrians and cyclists
- Supporting local authorities by empowering them to crack down on traffic offences
- Improving air quality and reducing traffic by creating more low traffic neighbourhoods
- Intensive funding of 12 new areas to become more cycle friendly, known as ‘Mini Hollands’
- Creating at least one zero-emission transport city centre
- Encouraging GPs to prescribe cycling to patients who would benefit
Boardman said Greater Manchester must show “strong leadership” to execute the plans. “Creating a true cultural shift where cycling and walking is the default way to travel requires far more than simply building bike lanes.
“The variety of measures laid out in these plans reflect the importance of increasing access to bikes, making local roads safer and improving air quality.”
He added: “We hope this announcement will unlock the investment and additional powers needed to enable our 10 councils to realise the full potential of these plans.”
There has been a 16% increase in the number of people cycling in Greater Manchester during the pandemic. The weekday cycling peak reached 200,000 trips, equating to around one million trips a week.
In June, Manchester City Council came under fire after submitting a £600,000 bid from the Government’s £250m Emergency Active Travel Fund which omitted provision for temporary cycle lanes, a feature deemed integral to the strategy by other councils within the combined authority.
Travel and infrastructure experts from across the region will discuss the North West walking and cycling agenda at Place North West’s next event on 30 July