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Millions of new money for cycling infrastructure in Manchester could make roads LESS safe, warns cycle club

Manchester's track record at 'cycling improvements' not great - and we need more driver education says club leader...

£214 million of new money for cycle networks, much of it earmarked for Manchester, could make the city less safe for cyclists, the city’s largest cycling club has claimed.

The funding, announced this week by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, will be split between eight cities over the next three years, and should be used to develop cycle infrastructure and address traffic and collision hotspots.

But Ian Whittell, of Manchester Wheelers’ Club has told Mancunian Matters that the city does not have a good track record when it comes to spending money on decent infrastructure.

He said: “Manchester, like most British cities, has had numerous examples of so-called ‘cycling-friendly traffic measures’ that actually create more danger for cyclists than had previously been the case.

“Our hope is that instead authorities listen to the advice of active members of the cycling community in developing their ‘Strategic Road Network’.”

Mr Clegg said as he rolled out the funding: “I’m committed to helping our dream of becoming a cycling nation, similar to places like Denmark and the Netherlands, become a reality.

“In government, we’re putting the money down. Now we need the public and local authorities to jump on their bikes and get us to the finish line.”

Mr Whittell added:  “We are pleased to see Manchester on the list of cities in the plan.

“For too long cycling has been neglected as a mode of transport here, despite this being the home of cycling in Britain.

“In the past month, two of our members have been hospitalised after drivers exited stationary vehicles but failed to look and struck them with their car doors.

“They were completely avoidable accidents. Those drivers didn’t look over their shoulders and thought about cyclists possibly being in their vicinity.

“There needs to be a drastic improvement in road safety education and awareness.

“This initiative, therefore, is welcome but only as part of an on-going drive to make Britain’s roads safer.”

The money announced by Mr Clegg will be divided between the eight cities which have already received Cycle City Ambition funding and the Highways Agency to improve conditions for cyclists on its roads.

£114m of additional money will go to Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Norwich and Bristol to continue progress over the three years 2015/16 to 2017/18. The formula for deciding how much each city gets has yet to be announced.

£100m of funding is earmarked for the Highways Agency to improve cycling conditions along and across the Highways Agency’s network of major trunk roads. The Agency, soon to be turned in to a company owned by the Government, is also responsible for the country's motorway network.

Recently we reported how cyclists in Manchester are being asked for their views on 37 miles of new cycle routes following seven routes.

Four of the new paths will be near Manchester Airport, Prestwich, Wilmslow Road and Cheetham Hill, while three others are planned for near Salford, Stockport and the Bridgewater and Ashton canals.

The current share of transport to work by bicycle is 2.1 per cent in Greater Manchester, a figure local councils are keen to improve.

The consultations can be found in detail here, with comments encouraged.

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