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Labour politician pledges high quality infrastructure to encourage more people to cycle

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has pledged to build high quality infrastructure for cyclists to get more residents of the region on bikes in a bid to tackle congestion and improve air quality.

The Labour politician, who became Greater Manchester’s first elected mayor in May this year, gave his full support to Chris also Boardman, whom he appointed the region’s cycling and walking commissioner in July.

Speaking today at the Urban Transport Group Conference in Leeds, Burnham said: “According to the Greater Manchester Travel Diary Survey, almost a third of journeys less than 1km are made by car.

“That’s equivalent to a 15-minute walk – or a four-minute bike ride.

“Enabling people to walk or cycle, particularly for these short journeys, is key to tackling congestion, improving air quality and improving people’s health.

“Other cities have shown that if you build high-quality cycling infrastructure then people will use it.”

He continued: “Later this week Chris Boardman will be publishing his report on how to make Greater Manchester the best place for walking and cycling in the UK – and in doing so achieve that modal shift we need.

“It will challenge us to be bolder than we have been in the past and I am determined that we meet that challenge.”

Burnham added: “When Chris launches his report on Friday, I will be setting out my intention for how we use the Transforming Cities Fund to support cycling and walking infrastructure.”

His keynote address to the conference touched on all areas of transport in Greater Manchester, a topic that he has made his priority as mayor.

Among the issues he spoke about were the congestion clogging the area’s streets and motorways and the impact that had on productivity and people’s lives, as well as plans to overhaul how bus services are operated in the region.

He added: “We have clear plans to improve all modes of transport and make them integrate into one system.

“But these improvements won’t happen overnight. Over the next year the public will need to bear with us, and remain patient.

“2018 will involve a lot of hard work. And there is no escaping the fact that some of the work might cause disruption.

“But we have got to grasp the nettle and get it done. We cannot leave things as they are.

He concluded: “We need to plan for a system that keeps the place moving, that people can afford to use and gives them clean air to breathe. 

“In short, an integrated public transport system that puts the public interest first. It’s not much to ask, is it?”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.