The first scheme of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network, a proposal for the largest joined up cycling and walking network in the UK, covering 1,800 miles has opened in Wigan.
Formerly known as the Muddy Mile, the scheme has consisted of improvements to the Bridgewater Canal Towpath in Astley and was opened by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham and Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman.
The towpath itself has been completely resurfaced, better signage has been installed and access points have been improved. The route now becomes part of the Bridgewater Way which encourages people to walk and cycle on the canal and tow path from Wigan Pier through Leigh and across the Salford boundary to Worsley, Monton and Patricroft.
The project was funded jointly by Wigan Council, the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund and the Bridgewater Canal Company.
Speaking about the work, Andy Burnham said: “Cycling and walking is part of Greater Manchester’s wider transport strategy, Our Network, my 10 year plan for an integrated, modern and accessible public transport system.
“Excellent cycling and walking links across our local neighbourhoods are vital to this vision, allowing people to walk and cycle easily and safely for shorter journeys. To see this first piece of the Bee Network in place and ready for many journeys is heartening.”
The opening event was celebrated at The Old Boathouse with afternoon tea and complemented by two guided rides and a walk led by the council’s sister organisation, Inspiring healthy lifestyles, which both used the new route.
Leader of the council, Councillor David Molyneux said: “It’s fantastic news that the first Bee Network scheme in Greater Manchester is complete in our borough. This is another example of how we’re leading the way and working effectively with organisations to deliver ambitious plans that will revolutionise travel.”
“We have had a lot of very positive and welcoming feedback from residents and commuters alike who are already benefitting from this scheme, demonstrating the demand for such facilities. We’re working with TfGM to urge people of all abilities to walk more and get out on their bikes. Not only will this support health and wellbeing but improves air quality and will also reduce congestion.”
Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman commented: “It’s very exciting to see the first official Bee Network scheme up and running, ready for residents to use.
“The Bee Network is all about making it easier for people to get about on foot or by bike and we’re very proud to have helped deliver a route that we know will be well used by thousands of people every year.”
So far, the Bee Network consists of 57 schemes, details of which can be found here.