GREATER Manchester’s first Cycling and Walking Commissioner has called for £1.5 billion to help realise his vision of transforming the city region into a world class region for cycling and walking.
When he was appointed in the summer, Chris Boardman was tasked by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to produce a report on how to deliver a step change in the numbers of people walking and cycling in the city region.
The report ‘Made to Move’, has been delivered to leaders on Friday, December 15, 2017 at a meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and features ambitious targets to improve cycling and walking rates in a bid to improve air quality as part of the Mayor’s green city agenda, as well as tackling congestion and improving public health and wellbeing.
The 15-point plan includes proposals to publish a detailed 2018 Greater Manchester-wide walking and cycling infrastructure plan, as set out in the Greater Manchester Strategy, and establish a ring-fenced, 10-year, £1.5 billion infrastructure fund for walking and cycling. This would bring Greater Manchester’s spend on cycling and walking in line with other major conurbations, including London and Oslo.
Chris’ proposals – an investment that he proposes would be implemented over the next decade and take Greater Manchester to 2050 – build on research that suggests a significant majority of Greater Manchester residents (77%) are in favour of more protected cycle lanes even if it impacts on other forms of road traffic.
‘Bike Life Greater Manchester 2017’, published last month by sustainable transport charity Sustrans and TfGM, also identified that almost seven in 10 people say Greater Manchester would be a better place to live and work if more people cycled.
Chris said: “There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly ambitious but wholly deliverable plan to get Greater Manchester moving by bike and walking.
“The Mayor of Greater Manchester tasked me with thinking creatively, challenging assumptions and pushing the boundaries of what should be possible. My proposals, the product of many months of work, will ease congestion on our overcrowded roads, improve our general health and wellbeing and help us breathe cleaner air in a greener city-region.
“It will require significant support but the decades of improved living that we, our children and grandchildren will be able enjoy will make it worthwhile.”
The Mayor of Greater Manchester pledged in the recently-published Greater Manchester Strategy to promote wellbeing and healthy active lifestyles.
Today, the Mayor said: “When I appointed Chris, I asked him to produce a bold and challenging plan to get people cycling and walking. This report more than meets the test set, and together with Greater Manchester’s 10 council leaders, we are ready to rise to the challenge. It is now urgent, with Greater Manchester being asked to produce plans to tackle illegal air pollution.
“Chris has identified the need for substantial investment in our cycling infrastructure and in response, we are aiming to create a challenge fund of around £50 million a year from 2019 to 2021, which will be able to be accessed by our 10 districts if they are building to the required standard and meeting part of the costs. This will go a considerable way towards meeting the required funding challenge and we will provide initial funding next year to get things going.
“Investing in cycling and walking will not only improve the air that we breathe, it will help tackle our crippling congestion problem and improve our health, wellbeing and environment.”
The delivery of ‘Made to Move’ relies upon substantial partnership working and will incorporate insight and expertise from across the GMCA, TfGM, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP), Sport England and Greater Manchester sport and physical activity charity Greater Sport.
The report also calls for measures that will help people across Greater Manchester to start to travel more actively by working closely with schools, businesses and the wider community.
Improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Greater Manchester is at the heart of ‘Made to Move’.
Air quality is now recognised as one of the most important challenges facing the region, with air pollution caused mainly by road traffic linked to up to 2,000 premature deaths each year.
As the easiest and cheapest zero-emission means of transport, encouraging more cycling and walking are two of the key ways to help clean up the air, alongside the significant health benefits of increased physical activity and exercise.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of Living Streets – the UK charity for everyday walking that has been working with the Cycling and Walking Commissioner – said: “The ‘Made to Move’ report sets out some ambitious but vital steps to ensure walking is a safe, easy and pleasant way to get around for everyone in Greater Manchester.
“Making walking the natural choice for short trips will require a broad approach, working closely with communities, schools, employers and partners to help to build a culture of walking. It won’t happen overnight, but we look forward to working with the Commissioner and the Mayor to help realise this exciting vision.
“Our message is – You’ll never start a revolution from your bed, so step outside, and make a happier, healthier future for Greater Manchester.”