They want a bit more than two front teeth, mind - safe space for cyclists would be a start

Sustrans in Manchester has sent a letter to Santa Claus – in figurative terms, at least – detailing what they would like to find under the tree this week as we head towards 2015.

According to Sustrans area manager Peter Green, there are four presents the city’s bike riders need to unwrap on Christmas Day, reports the Manchester Evening News.

“The main thing is a real long-term commitment to cycling and active travel infrastructure. We need good cycling routes and a more pedestrian-focussed environment,” he told the newspaper, emphasising the £10 per head annual minimum investment that Sustrans and other campaigners are fighting for.

“That amount per annum per person would work. We are getting a fraction of that. There is lots of investment going into cycling but the statistics get muddied because it is national spending, much of it going into superhighways in London. It’s very difficult to carve out a clear Manchester number - but it is definitely a small fraction.”

He welcomed plans to close much of the city’s Oxford Road LINK to most motorised traffic.

But he maintained that other plans, such as consultations that have been launched for cycle paths in areas such as Cheetham Hill, Manchester Airport, Prestwich and Wilmslow Road – the latter regularly highlighted as the most dangerous for the city’s cyclists – were less than ideal.

“There’s always an element of compromise and it’s a strong project but we do have reservations over other schemes,” he explained.

Referring also to planned cycle routes on the Ashton and Bridgewater Canals and in Salford and Stockport, he went on: “These schemes don’t seem to quite carry the aspiration through.

“We really want to see a commitment to a uniformly high standard of design and in some instances that isn’t looking as good as it should be. There are pinch points and weaknesses in these routes.

"It’s important to make sure routes link in to what’s already there on the ground.”

He also called for a more rigorous approach to be taken in maintaining existing infrastructure.
“Some is very good, some is awful and a lot is very average,” he said.

"An awful lot isn’t well maintained. We’ve had a commitment to highways expenditure from the government but we would like to see some spent on infrastructure for cyclists and walkers.”

His fourth wish was for motorists to be more considerate of vulnerable road users.

“For every atrocious piece of cycling you see on the roads there is a balancing act of an equally atrocious piece of motoring,” he said.

“In some ways there is already an excellent cycle network called the road, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be for all users - with a bit of care and consideration all round.”

So does Mr Green expect to receive those presents the day after tomorrow?

“I think we will see some bits of it happen but we won’t get all of what we want,” he reflected. “We would like to see some steps in the right direction.

"It will be a long time before Manchester is the Copenhagen of the north-west but we want to encourage work to see that investment to benefit us all,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.