British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington says the organisation will help Manchester “create a blueprint” to change Britain as British Cycling policy advisor, Chris Boardman publishes his plans to transform cycling and walking in Greater Manchester.
Harrington highlighted the importance of turning Manchester, the home of British Cycling, into a city that can lead the way in turning Britain into a great cycling nation.
“Manchester is the home of British Cycling and we realised that for culture change to happen across the country then we needed to be setting an example in our own city.
“We identified an opportunity with the mayoral elections in Manchester to help get cycling and walking on the agenda and worked with Andy, and the other candidates to ensure it was prioritised in their manifestos.
“At British Cycling we are committed to working with everyone who wants to transform Britain into a great cycling nation, and, with Manchester, we have a unique opportunity to create a blueprint for every city that wants to change the way people travel and lead healthier, happier lives in the process.”
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, announced that he intends to support cycling and walking infrastructure projects using the majority of the £243 million Transforming Cities fund, which was announced in the Budget in November. The Mayor intends to make available £50 million per year from 2019/20 as a challenge fund to Greater Manchester's 10 districts.
Appointed in September as Manchester’s first Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Boardman, who combines his responsibilities as policy advisor at British Cycling, has spent his first few months in the role assessing what needs to be done and seeking support from its 10 district leaders in order to make cycling and walking the natural choice for all short journeys in the city.
Boardman praised the important role played by British Cycling in getting cycling on the Mayor’s agenda and said:
“To put it simply I wouldn’t have been able to publish this vision today without the support and hard work of British Cycling.
“As a governing body they have led the charge for culture change in Britain and the work we are doing in Manchester is just the latest step in the process to us ultimately matching many of our European neighbours and making cycling and walking the number one choice for short journeys.
“Cities such as Cambridge and London have really embraced cycling, but we have a unique opportunity with Manchester to take a city from ground zero and completely transform it.
"It was a chance that was too good to be missed and I’m delighted that British Cycling not only recognised that, but have played an active role in helping shape the plan that we have published today.”
The plan highlights the improvements to health, congestion, air pollution and the economy that could be made if the plan is implemented.
The report shows that 50% of adults in Greater Manchester are currently physically inactive, costing the local NHS more than half a million pounds a week, while traffic congestion is costing businesses £1.3 billion a year.
A proven outcome of this congestion is poor air quality, the side effects of which are currently killing 10 people a day early in Greater Manchester.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham 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, starting in 2019/20 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 way we 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.”