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Council workers eight times less likely to take part in scheme than other Manchester employees

The numbers taking up tax-free bicycle purchases in a council scheme are almost 25 per cent lower than 2009 predictions, and eight times lower than employees of other businesses in the city.

825 bicycle vouchers were issued to council workers in the period 2009 - 2012, and only 200 this year under a new scheme administrator, according to a Freedom Of Information request carried out by Mancunian Matters.

According to Bike Biz, when Cyclescheme won the tender to provide a bike to work scheme for Manchester Council’s 25,000 employees from 2009 to mid-2012, Cyclescheme’s partner stores were expected to provide a face-to-face service to an estimated five per cent of its workforce, or 1.250 people.

A spokesman for the council blamed wider problems with cycling infrastructure in the city, saying: “Given that the majority of commuter journeys in Greater Manchester are less than five kilometres there is significant potential for encouraging more people to cycle if we can deliver the infrastructure that will enable people to feel able to cycle.“

Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, with a tenth of the number of employees, has issued more than 1,000 certificates, representing more than four bikes for every ten employees - a figure the service attributes to fitting all workplaces with lockers and showers and promoting bike use to employees.

The Service’s Sustainability Manager Sam Pickles said: “We set up our cycle to work scheme because we’re an environmentally conscious organisation, full of very fit people. Whilst we hoped for some interest in the scheme, we couldn’t possibly have imagined how successful it has become.

“Encouraging cycling is just one part of a big push to make GMFRS more environmentally friendly. Our next challenge is to do even better.”

Daniel Gillborn, of CycleScheme, which tenders 34,000 Cycle-to-work contracts including Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and, previously, Manchester City Council, said: “We tend to see higher uptake of in well-established schemes where there are male-based work forces and where staff live in a small local radius to their offices.

“The private sector often leads the way. Although we often see a 30% uptake from fire and rescue services, the figures for Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are really incredible.”

A Mancunian Matters survey into cycling infrastructire found that 72 per cent of the public surveyed said the roads were not safe enough for cyclists.

Will Carney, 21, a student living in Rusholme, said: “I’ve tried cycling to university but I’ve decided to walk now because when I cycled down the curry mile I am tempted to ring my mum before as I fear it could be the last time I speak to her.”

Marie Clarke, 25, a sales assistant from Didsbury, said: “The roads aren’t wide enough and there is not enough cycle lanes, Manchester needs to do more to make it safer for cyclists.”

This year Manchester has won a significant amount of Cycle City Ambition funding; £20m from the Department for Transport and a local contribution of £11.1m.

According to a government press release when the funding announcement was made in August:

The funding will kick start Velocity 2025, which will, over time, create a city-wide cycle network.

Initially, as part of the CCAG funding, this will involve a series of high quality cycle lanes that will lead from the city centre out to the M60 like spokes of a bicycle wheel.

Spokes will have a Cycle and Ride station located several miles from the city centre, allowing cyclists to leave their bikes and swap onto Metrolink or a local rail service for the last leg of their journey if they wish.

As part of a door to door approach the proposals involve the introduction of 20 mph zones in some residential areas adjacent to the cycle “spokes” to enable safer access to the cycleways. Greater Manchester’s vision is to double the number of cycle journeys within 5 years and to double them again by 2025.

The Government funding will bring 56km of new or improved cycle paths and predicted health and wellbeing savings of around £7 million a year.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

11 comments

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GREGJONES [281 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm not that surprised, cycling into and round Manchester city center is pretty hairy at times, even for fairly experienced commuters

Further to that the capacity to chain up your bike anywhere near the council offices is next to nothing.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Manchester City Council are surprised that more people aren't cycling?

The same Manchester City Council that refuse to sweep cycle lanes and actually sweep the debris off the roads into cycle lanes?

The same Manchester City Council that doesn't get in to meaningful discussions with cyclists in the city?

The same Manchester City Council that does this to the already limited cycle parking in Manchester?

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dunnoh [198 posts] 2 years ago
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I commute in Manchester and its obvious why so few people do. The roads are crap and you cant take bikes on the Metro - this single thing would make such a difference to a lot of cyclists.

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Cantab [93 posts] 2 years ago
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dunnoh wrote:

you cant take bikes on the Metro - this single thing would make such a difference to a lot of cyclists.

I think this is a key point that is so often missed with most cycle infrastructure schemes: joining them up to public transport links!

The proposed Cycle and Ride is a step in the right direction, but actually being able to take your bike with you on public transport so you can use it both ends of the journey (thereby making public transport so much more flexible) is hugely more preferable.

I think by far the best example I have seen of this is Seattle where the (guided) buses have a fold down bike rack on the front letting 3 or so bikes be carried. So simple, yet so effective!

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Manchester City Council spent £500k on a 'Cycling Hub' - all well and good but this was a members only facility costing between £100 and £200 to lock up your bike.
Unsurprisingly only 36 people signed up - meaning it has cost the good people of Manchester about £10k for every space.
Instead of spending half a million on a daft vanity project they could have spent it on better infrastructure.
A couple of months ago one of their own employees was killed on their bike and nothing has changed since her death.
All we hear is promises for the future but if past and present cycling policy is anything to go by i dont see Manchester turning into Copenhagen any time soon.

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Argos74 [392 posts] 2 years ago
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Manchester isn't a million miles away from being a really good place to cycle. Sort out the road surfaces, enforce road laws properly (ASLs, vehicles parked in cycle lanes, aggressive drivers), and slap people - in the face with wet fish - responsible for the occasionally really moronic attempts at cycling and general road infrastructure.

Doesn't need huge spending or vanity projects like Cycle Hub. Just a bit of thought and listening to local cyclists, and a few tweaks here and there.

There's lots of free training nearby, more bike shops than you can shake a minipump at, and lots of people out on bikes, the majority riding safely and responsibly from what I've seen on my daily commute. It'll never be Copenhagen, but isn't bad now, and could easily be a brilliant cycling city.

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GREGJONES [281 posts] 2 years ago
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It's certainly flat, and I'm always surprised by how few cycle from chorlton to town (only a 3/4 mile journey. But take one look at the cycle lane on chorlton road, it's just a car park, as with all cycle lanes in manchester.

What we need is simply an enforcement of the existing rules, no cars in asl, no changing lanes at traffic lights using the asl, no speeding, and a dedicated cycle path on each of the main roads into town e.g. stretford, ashton, eccles, cheetham hi. The space is there but not enforced with a solid white line.

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alexb [128 posts] 2 years ago
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Also, the government's "revisions" to the Bike to Work scheme means that for both employers and employees it's full of potential pitfalls and does not deliver the savings that it did in the first iteration.
Read the small print folks, there are a lot of workplaces offering the scheme in a format that is not legal. If you were to be audited, it would mean a lot of pain.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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They're probably worried about either getting knocked off and then their bikes knicked by a Manchunian druggie.

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karlowen [65 posts] 2 years ago
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The Council have very kindly just removed a stretch of Cycle lane on my commute, just as i go past Salford Stadium.

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JM77 [1 post] 2 years ago
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 45

What a silly article and full of inaccuracies. If the writer knows anything about the subject matter she really should apply it. A few points:

1. Manchester council staff numbers is massively below 25000 and has been for a long time. Therefore the uptake is a lot better.
2. However, even if 99% of staff cycled to work there might still be a "low" take-up of the cycle to work scheme because everyone has got a bike already! Travel-to-work modal split would have been more meaningful.
3. Numbers are well in excess of 1000 for the bike scheme and average over 200 a year. That isn't too shabby and ranks in the top bracket of any bike to work scheme provider contracts.

Finally cycling by Manchester council staff is rising year on year. Something to be positive about.