Today Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Cycling & Walking Commissioner, launched his 15-Point Plan to get the city region moving. Made to Move is a bold and exciting vision which echoes what people want, including calls for a ring-fenced, ten year £1.5 billion infrastructure fund.
As an ex-Olympian, Mr Boardman is used to setting ambitious goals, and achieving them. His new plan, which will start in 2018, will be a key part of plans to improve the region’s air quality and crippling congestion problem. It includes a detailed infrastructure plan, for over 700 miles of main corridor cycle routes throughout the region, linking to future public realm and infrastructure projects. His team aims to work with schools, industry and local communities, to get buy in at every level.
At a time of challenging budgets, it will be reassuring for Mr Boardman that Mancunians are not quite as in love with cars as the local media and a vocal minority would have us believe. He can be confident that the investment needed to implement his plan is fully supported by the people of Greater Manchester. At the launch of Made to Move, he quoted the results of our Bike Life 2017 report in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester, which found that over three quarters of residents in the city region supported more investment in cycling.
The report, which is the biggest assesment of cycling in seven major UK cities, includes a random survey of 1,100 residents throughout Greater Manchester, 77% of whom said they supported building more roadside cycle lanes, even if they took more space away from cars. Unsurprisingly, safety was the single biggest factor which people said put them off cycling, with 65% of people saying they would cycle more if there were protected roadside cycle lanes and 76% supporting more investment in cycle infrastructure.
We know from our work in London that consistent long term investment in cycling infrastructure, alongside work with communities, businesses and schools, is the only approach which gets large numbers of people out of cars. This will undoubtedly involve some controversial decisions, including taking space away from road vehicles.
As the home of the Industrial Revolution Greater Manchester is no stranger to innovation, and this exciting new plan will help create the smart, eco-friendly city that will attract the next wave of investment. When the temperature rises and angry rhetoric appears in the letters pages of the local media, Mr Boardman knows he has the support of the people of Greater Manchester. This is another Olympic race for success and we will support him to deliver this bold plan.