The new plan aims to build on the significant increase in the number of people cycling during the pandemic - with the weekday cycling peak reaching 200,000 trips in Greater Manchester. This equates to an estimated one million cycle trips being made each week, an average 16% increase on pre-lockdown levels.
The plans, which set out a comprehensive, long term vision to increase active travel, have been embraced by the region’s leaders given Greater Manchester’s long-standing commitment to becoming a world-class cycling and walking city-region.
The announcement comes after the delivery of a report to Government earlier this year, setting out how the UK’s largest revolutionary walking and cycling network in Greater Manchester – the Bee Network - will help tackle the climate emergency, inactivity and congestion, prompting country-wide travel change.
Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester Cycling and Walking Commissioner 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 widespread commitments in this plan aim to build on that and demonstrate the bold leadership needed to achieve the active travel ‘revolution’ the prime minister has promised.
“Creating a true cultural shift where cycling and walking is the default way to travel and parents are happy for their children to ride to school, requires far more than simply building bike lanes and 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.
“Since 2017 and the publication of our Made to Move report, we’ve been leading the way for active travel nationally and we hope this announcement will unlock the investment and additional powers needed to enable our ten councils to realise the full potential of these plans.”
The commitments in the government plan, which will be funded by the £2bn of new money announced earlier this year for walking and cycling, also include:
- More cycle racks will be installed at transport hubs, town and city centres and public buildings, and funding will go towards new bike hangars and on-street storage for people who don’t have space to keep a bike at home
- Cycle training will be made available for every child and adult who wants it, accessible through schools, local authorities or direct from cycle training schemes
- Transforming infrastructure through building thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in towns and cities; setting higher standards for cycling infrastructure, to be overseen by a new inspectorate; and improving the National Cycle Network
- 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; improving legal protections for vulnerable road users; raising safety standards on lorries; and working with the police and retailers to tackle bike theft
- Supporting local authorities by empowering them to crack down on traffic offences; and consulting to increase metro mayors’ powers over key road networks
- Improving air quality and reducing traffic by creating more low traffic neighbourhoods to reduce rat running, including by consulting on communities’ rights to close side streets; putting in place more “school streets” to reduce traffic by schools; intensive funding of 12 new areas to become more cycle friendly, known as ‘Mini Hollands’; and creating at least one zero-emission transport city centre
- Helping people live healthier lives by piloting a new approach in selected places with poor health rates to encourage GPs to prescribe cycling, with patients able to access bikes through their local surgery
- Increasing access to e-bikes by setting up a new national e-bike programme, to help those who are older, have to travel long distances or are less fit, to take up cycling