British Cycling says that ‘world class’ cycling infrastructure is needed in Greater Manchester, as well as a change in attitude toward physical activity. The organisation is therefore urging the elected mayor to prioritise cycling and increase investment.
Currently, less than three per cent of Greater Manchester’s population commutes by bike. While the goal is to increase this to 10 per cent by 2025, British Cycling’s Joel Lavery told the Manchester Evening News that more investment was required.
The election for the first mayor of Greater Manchester will take place in May 2017 and Lavery said this presented an opportunity to prioritise cycling, walking and other forms of public transport across the city.
Aware that Boris Johnson is not exactly flavour of the month in many circles, Lavery nevertheless pointed to the ex-London mayor as someone who was willing to support cycling.
“Love or loathe Boris he has shown really strong leadership in delivering cycling infrastructure and policy. At the end of his time as mayor, he said his main regret was not looking at cycling until near the end of his term – he wished it was the first thing he did.”
Of Manchester’s 10 per cent target, Lavery said:
“If things stay the same as they are now we won’t make that - we need transformational change and some big decisions by leadership to make it.
“I think there’s a real opportunity for us to not only catch up with – but leapfrog – other cities who have over five or six years been proactively investing and making decisions around planning and design with cycling at the heart.”
Inactivity in Greater Manchester is said to be costing the NHS £35m a year with 32 per cent of residents doing less than 30 minutes’ exercise a week.