Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, has unveiled an innovative new plan to create a city-region-wide cycling and walking network made up of more than 1,000 miles of routes, including 75 miles of Dutch-style segregated bike lanes.
The ‘Beelines’ network will be the largest joined-up system of walking and cycling routes in the UK and has been developed with all 10 Greater Manchester local authorities.
Once built, the network will better connect every community in Greater Manchester, benefitting 2.7 million people and making cycling and walking a real alternative to the car.
The proposals, which are subject to formal approval by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) on Friday 29 June, also include plans for 1,400 safer road crossings on the majority of routes and 25 ‘filtered neighbourhoods’, where priority will be given to the movement of people and where more public spaces to sit, play and socialise will be created.
People in Greater Manchester make around 250 million car journeys of less than one kilometre each year – the equivalent of a 15-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride.
A large proportion of these trips are school runs. In the Netherlands, 50% of children cycle to school every day – in Greater Manchester the number is less than 2%. Beelines aims to make walking and cycling the natural choice for short journeys.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester has a long history of doing innovative things and our approach to Beelines is no different.
“This proposal is bold and I make no apology for that. If we’re to cut congestion and clean up our air, decisive action is needed. I want to make Greater Manchester one of the top 10 places in the world to live and it’s action of this sort which will help to deliver that promise.
“I’ve no doubt that Chris Boardman and the 10 local authorities which make up Greater Manchester will do us proud and make journeys on foot or by bike the first choice for local trips.
“This will help to tackle congestion and it will help to tackle poor air quality, as well as boosting people’s health and fitness levels.
“We have £160m to get us started and we have a plan that has something in it for every single person in Greater Manchester.”
Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “I’ve been massively impressed by the political will of all of Greater Manchester’s 10 authorities to come together to make this plan a reality.
“It’s not really about people using bikes and walking – it’s about making better places to live and work by giving people a real choice about how they travel. In doing so, we’ll make the city -region healthier and more prosperous.
“We’ve seen from other global cities that these methods work and the benefits are there for all to see – we simply can’t afford to be left behind.
“So now the hard work begins and we’ll be working closely with all local authorities and partners to deliver this plan as urgently as possible.”
Government Minister for cycling and walking, Jesse Norman MP, added: “The great city-region of Manchester is setting a fantastic example with this project. I commend Chris Boardman and his team for their energy and focus in making it happen.
“This is a really exciting plan to encourage more people to cycle and walk. But at the same time, it will improve air quality, reduce congestion and improve health, by giving local people real alternatives to driving.
“Earlier this year we awarded Greater Manchester nearly £250m as part of the Government’s new Transforming Cities Fund, and I am delighted to see it being put to good use.
“Greater Manchester is already a great place to live, but this initiative plan will make it even better. I hugely look forward to seeing how this work progresses.”
Maps showing the proposed plans for each local council area in Greater Manchester have today been published on the Cycling and Walking Commissioner’s page on the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)’s website. The proposed routes and crossing points have also been published on open data website mappinggm.org.uk, where interested members of the public can collaborate on the plans for their area.
The plans represent the first version of the network that could be built over the next five years. An updated version of the Beelines map will be published later in the year.
Chris Boardman added: “Beelines will connect the quiet streets of Greater Manchester and lead in the most direct way to new crossing points to get people across busier roads.
“People using these routes will see new, distinctive signage which will be a marker of quality and will encourage them to take more journeys by bike or on foot.
“Beelines will be lined with zebra crossings at every side road, encouraging people to cross roads with priority and without fear.
“Planners, engineers and, most importantly, local people in each council area led on creating the first draft of these plans, which will evolve in the months and years ahead. By involving local people from the very first stage, and enabling them to inform the details of each proposed route and crossing, we’ll get the outcome they need, not what we think they need.
“That’s why we’ve taken the decision to create the first draft then immediately make it available to the public. This will be Greater Manchester’s network and it’s important that residents’ voices are the loudest, that they own it from start to finish.”
The plans published today have a combined budget of around £500 million and represent a first step in the planned £1.5 billion investment. Andy Burnham made the decision in March to allocate £160 million of the government’s Transforming Cities Fund to the project, which brings the total spend on cycling and walking in Greater Manchester to around £15 per head.
This funding is at levels seen in cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where cycling and walking make up 25% of all journeys.
The first list of routes and crossings that will be built in this financial year will be published at the end of July. All 10 local authorities are now working with the GMCA and TfGM to identify sites where work can start quickly.
Salford City Council’s ambitious proposals for Chapel Street East are one of the first schemes to be submitted to the new Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge fund. They will create an environment where walking and cycling are attractive alternatives to driving and will support the sustainable development of city centre of Salford. The scheme is modelled on the best Dutch streets including continuous footways and cycle tracks, implied zebras, traffic-calming, streets trees and planting.
Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor, said: “Salford has been investing in our award-winning traffic-free cycling and walking network for many years but recognises we need to do more and welcome the Cycling and Walking Commissioner’s proposals. It’s also great to see the Greater Manchester Mayor’s commitment to spend £160 million on walking and cycling over the next four years. With this level of financial commitment, we should be able to positively encourage more active travel in Salford and across Greater Manchester. We are confident that our ambitious plans for Chapel Street East are of the right quality and design to enable people to choose walking and cycling over using cars.”
To find out more, visit the Beelines pages on the TfGM website at www.tfgm.com/beelines.