Greater Manchester has bid for £29 million to become the country's first 'sustainable travel city' and if successful it will be good news for the city’s cyclists.
The bid includes proposals for an innovative network of five flagship cycle centres in the regional centre, offering cycle parking facilities, showers and changing facilities, short-term bike hire, information and workshop and training facilities. The cycle centres would also function as centres for sustainable travel and smarter driving advice.
There will also be plans to introduce a cycle repair, maintenance, recycling and training scheme, which could remove 5,000 bicycles each year from the waste stream and provide safe, low-cost bicycles for students, return-to-work schemes and deprived areas.
Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) is spearheading the city region's bid, which also has the backing of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA).
Greater Manchester is asking for £29 million over three years to deliver a programme aimed at encouraging people to make smarter travel choices - helping to cut congestion, reduce harmful carbon emissions and improve health.
Councillor Keith Whitmore, Chair of GMITA, said: "Our plans would make Greater Manchester a national leader in sustainable travel and, if successful, could lead to 13 million more journeys being made on the region's buses, trains and trams each year.
"Our bid seeks to challenge people's perceptions of walking, cycling and public transport and show that they really are attractive and viable options - and to provide facilities like the cycle centres to address some of the barriers to making the switch."
The bid also includes a unique marketing strategy to revolutionise the way public transport and cycling is promoted to businesses, schools and residents, plans to offer one in five households Individualised Travel Marketing to help find the best way to travel and offer information and incentives to try different ways of getting around, and plans to offer businesses advice, help and grants to introduce secure cycle parking, showers, cycle training and maintenance points.
The programme provides benefits for all urban areas within the Greater Manchester city-region, concentrating on where the biggest environmental and health benefits are possible, and making best use of the new Metrolink extensions and other public transport improvements that will be in place by 2012.
Nine large urban areas in England are being given the chance to get their hands on the funding by the Department for Transport, which is expected to make an announcement on the successful bid in September.
Cyclists in Manchester also benefitted earlier this when the city was the first to benefit from an online route planner for cyclists.
The online system, commissioned by Transport Direct and Cycling England, was created by CycleCity Guides to allow cyclists to map their journeys via off-road routes and cycle paths for the first time.