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The perfect time for a change of culture - but the council needs to stop in

Weeks of traffic misery in Manchester could easily be solved by more people cycling, say campaigners, but the urged the council that it couldn’t be done without their input.

Manchester city centre is virtually impassable thanks to roadworks and problems - including the huge hole in Mancunian Way and tram works at St Peter’s Square.

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Nick Hubble, of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, told the Manchester Evening News that it was the right moment to think about changing the city’s culture.

He said: “It think it’s times like this when the transport network is pushed to its limit that you need to start thinking about whether the way we do things is the right way to do things.

“When there are so many roadworks and a major route closes and everyone who travels by car is forced into a tiny space, you get these huge congestions issues.

“It’s times like this when getting on a bike makes really good sense, especially for relatively short journeys.

“People are complaining about it taking two-and-a-half hours to drive 1.5 miles home form work - it’s those journeys that we’d like to see people doing by bike.”

He added: “We need protected cycling infrastructure, we need to create a safe environment for people to ride. Agencies like Transport for Greater Manchester talk a lot about encouraging people to cycle but it’s difficult to get people to put themselves in a situation where they feel safe. The short answer to that is to build more bike lanes on all arterial routes.

“Most routes are along canals or are circuit tours - they don’t actually go where people want them to or facilitate cycling at speed that’s useful for commuting.

“We need to be looking at where people want to go, as efficiently and in as short a time as possible.”

Graeme Sherriff, from Love your Bike, said: “The current pressure on the city’s transport networks highlights the need for increased investment in attractive routes for cycling that enable people to benefit from active travel by saving money, burning calories and getting there on time.”

Rosslyn Colderley, regional director for Sustrans North West, a charity working to boost cycling in Greater Manchester, said: “The current traffic chaos in Manchester demonstrates how our city is struggling to support so many cars in the centre.

“If we had more quality bike lanes that people feel safe to cycle on, more people would choose to get around on two wheels and the city would be a cleaner, healthier, less congested place to be. we’ve seen it happen in cities like Bristol, where cycling and walking are now popular ways to commuter, and we can do this in Manchester too.

“There are lots of exciting plans to make Manchester a cycling city but if we really want more people to get fitter and healthier, then we need to make cycling more appealing and a big part of this is making the roads safer.

“To enable this to happen, the government must provide consistent long-term funding for cycling and walking to be at least 5per cent of transport spending, and a cycling and walking investment strategy that contains a long-term vision and targets, in the same way that already exists for our roads and railways.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester council, said: “There is no debate about the positive effect cycling can have on a city – it plays an important part in easing congested roads, improves air quality, helps reduce carbon emissions and of course improves the health of cyclists.

“While there is still work to be done, Manchester has been making huge steps toward becoming a much more accommodating city for cyclist - who are actively involved in planning thorough the Manchester Cycle Forum.

“There has been investment in new and upgraded cycle routes such as the Fallowfield Loop, while we have also worked closely with Transport for Greater Manchester to produce detailed maps of cycle routes and provide free training for people who want to get around the city by bike.

“Funding awarded by the Department of Transport is currently being used to create major improvements on routes such as Wilmslow Road, Moseley Road and Wilbraham Road, which will include installing Dutch-style cycle junctions and cycle lanes which stand free from traffic. And improvements will also be made to facilities for cyclists along Oxford Road as part of the Greater Manchester Bus Priority Project.”

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.