British Cycling has called on Andy Burnham to provide safe, convenient networks of cycling routes as part of the Manchester mayor’s ‘congestion conversation’. The organisation, which has been based in the city for 25 years, says that there is latent demand for cycling in the region, but only if conditions are right.
According to INRIX Manchester is the second most congested city in the UK and the 46th most congested in Europe.
When he launched his ‘congestion conversation’ last month, Burnham said he wanted to get people’s views on tackling the problem.
“I want to find out what it would take to encourage people to leave their cars at home and instead use public transport, cycle to work, or car share with others,” he said.
In an open response, British Cycling’s chief executive, Julie Harrington, said: “Greater Manchester is British Cycling’s home and we care passionately about helping to make it one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.
“Alleviating congestion is a big part of this, as are factors such as improving our air quality and combating physical inactivity which in turn leads to unhealthy communities and a burden on our local and national health provisions. Cycling is a proven way in which to accomplish this.”
Harrington states that 30 per cent of car journeys made in Greater Manchester are under a mile and says there is huge latent demand for cycling “if the conditions are right.”
However, she says that at present riding is “often an uncomfortable and unnerving experience” due to potholes, flooding, heavy levels of motor traffic and a lack of safe cycle lanes.
“Only through the provision of safe and convenient networks of cycling routes, which take people from their home to where they want to go, will we see a significant shift in how people travel,” she says.
After also calling for restrictions on where people drive and park, she concludes: “The ‘Propensity to Cycle Tool’ shows that if residents of Greater Manchester were as likely to cycle as the Dutch we would increase commuter journeys ten-fold, leaving room on the road for people who had to drive.
“This level of cycling would lead to an estimated £1 billion per year saving to individuals and the local economy because of the resulting health benefits. The figures are staggering, however the solutions are proven, and within reach.”