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Chris Boardman becomes Greater Manchester's first cycling and walking commissioner

World and Olympic champ turned cycling campaigner will be formally introduced in role today

Chris Boardman, the former world and Olympic champion turned cycling campaigner, has been named Greater Manchester’s first ever cycling and walking commissioner.

The 48-year-old, who is policy advisor at British Cycling, will be formally introduced in his new role by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham at an event at Exchange Street this afternoon.

The Labour politician, who was elected mayor in May, announced Boardman’s appointment via the Manchester Evening News this evening.

The event marks the launch of the GM Moving plan, an initiative of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, and Sport England.

Boardman, who comes from the Wirral on Merseyside, has been an ardent campaigner for cycling in recent years.

In his new role, according to a press release, he will “work across Greater Manchester’s public, private and voluntary institutions to improve safety and conditions for cycling.

“He will also publicly represent cycling, walking and increasing activity levels in Greater Manchester to raise

He said: “My first priority will be to pull together all the people who need to be involved in making cycling and walking viable, attractive and important part of the transport network in Greater Manchester.

“Cycling isn’t currently a big part of how people get around in the region but surveys have showed there is real desire to ride more, if we create an attractive, safe environment.

“There’s a passion from all branches of local government and health to make it happen too but we’re not going to enforce change – we will take people along with us.

“With my background in sport, I’m a big fan of setting targets, being measured and being held accountable for results,” he added.

“I’m going to spend several weeks talking to people to understand the landscape for cycling in Greater Manchester before setting a number of goals we want to achieve and timescales – and you can rest assured that they’ll be ambitious,” Boardman concluded.

Burnham, who was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in Gordon Brown’s government before taking on a similar role at the Department of Health, said: “I am a big believer in physical activity because it has a positive impact on both physical and mental health.

“Going from inactivity to activity is often one of the easiest and most positive lifestyle changes people can make.

“Having taken that step, people are then more likely to make other changes – be that in smoking, drinking or diet.

“We need to encourage the people in our city region to move more, to cycle and walk and maximise the contribution to being a healthy society.

“I want Greater Manchester to be the sport and physical activity capital of the world,” he added.

After the publication of All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report in 2013, which called for the government to appoint a cycling champion, many people saw Boardman as an ideal candidate for such a role, which was never created.

Many campaigners will see the fact that Greater Manchester has persuaded him to take on the role as a coup for the region.

Earlier this month, Boardman said that the justice system was failing cyclists and their families, a year on from his mother Carol being killed while riding her bike in North Wales. The van driver involved has not been charged with any offence.

> On anniversary of his mother’s death, Chris Boardman says justice system is failing cyclists and their families

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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rxpell | 6 years ago
1 like

That's great news  - even although he's just doing Manchester, he has a high profile and hopefully his work will get some media attention which gets picked up elsewhere too. 

HarrogateSpa | 6 years ago

Boardman is a great appointment. I wish him the best of luck, and I think he'll do a great job.

As I see it, there are a couple of risks. First, he is already a very busy person, with his bikes and his TV work. Will he struggle to give it enough time? I expect he wouldn't have taken it on if he didn't believe he had the time.

Second, there are bound to be disagreements, setbacks, and compromises, and it'll be interesting to see how he deals with them. I hope he remains as popular and respected as he is now.

psling replied to HarrogateSpa | 6 years ago

HarrogateSpa wrote:

Boardman is a great appointment. I wish him the best of luck, and I think he'll do a great job.

As I see it, there are a couple of risks. First, he is already a very busy person, with his bikes and his TV work. Will he struggle to give it enough time? I expect he wouldn't have taken it on if he didn't believe he had the time.


Part of me agrees with this. I would rather see Boardman as a National Ambassador rather than potentially becoming isolated within the politics of one city. Hopefully this won't be the case and he will still be recognised for his viewpoints within the larger community. I Wish him well though.


p.s. Can we lose the other thread please!?!

davel | 6 years ago

Really promising.

In Burnham and Boardman, Manchester now has people who can talk a good fight and follow it up. Burnham: see Hillsborough; Boardman: see just about anything he's ever had the power to do anything about.

Their London equivalents don't even talk a good fight.

@guyrwood: he was national hill climb champ 3 times on the trot  1

StraelGuy | 6 years ago

Best of luck to Chris but he's going to have an uphill struggle. I've worked in Manchester for years and love the place but the roads are third world awful.

brooksby | 6 years ago

Wow; looking like Andy burnham does intend to actually do something...! Watch this space.

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