A herd of cycling Santas (what is the collective noun?) descended on Manchester Town Hall on Friday, delivering a gift-wrapped parcel with the words ‘£25 per head for safe cycle lanes’ on it. Councillor Kate Chappell, executive member for the environment, accepted the gift, which local campaigners said represented the Christmas wishes of local residents.
Earlier this year, Sustrans' Bike Life survey showed that 75 per cent of Greater Manchester residents thought that £25 per head was a good amount to spend on cycling out of the current £300 per person transport budget. Survey respondents included those who cycle regularly but also those who never cycle at all.
The Manchester Evening News reports that around 20 Santas on bikes travelled in for their usual commute from across Greater Manchester – including Chorlton, Trafford, Levenshulme, Salford and Altrincham.
Rosslyn Colderley, regional director for Sustrans North West said the Santas’ delivery didn’t have to be a fantasy. “With the ‘devolution revolution’ Manchester has a great opportunity to do things differently and commit to consistent investment in cycling. It will help make our city healthier, less congested and a better place to live. Forward thinking cities like Bristol and Edinburgh can do it, why can’t we?”
Graeme Sherriff of Love Your Bike said that in times of austerity, cycling was a prudent investment in the future of the city. “The Bike Life survey shows strong support for increased investment in cycle infrastructure and also highlights that spending on cycling pays dividends in terms of the financial benefits to the local economy, to our health and the environment.”
Nick Hubble of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign added:
“At Christmas a lot of people will be getting shiny new bikes. However, without safe places to ride them, their enjoyment of their brand new pride and joy may well be tempered.
“There is a huge public mandate to transform Greater Manchester’s transport infrastructure in favour of active travel, which would generate huge social returns and create a more liveable urban environment. To quote the brilliant cycling cartoonist Bikeyface, ‘Hey Santa, thanks for the new bike last Christmas. But this Christmas all I want is somewhere to ride it’.”