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Cycling and walking commissioner says such an investment would lead to £8.3bn in public savings

Chris Boardman – clearly a man who believes that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well – has asked for £1.5bn to transform Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to cycle and walk. “We have to get this right,” he said. “I won’t waste people’s money or time building a network that won’t deliver a fundamental and cultural change in how we travel.”

The region’s cycling and walking commissioner has made the demand in a report to Mayor Andy Burnham and today presented to leaders of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

"Riding a bicycle or crossing a street should not require bravery," says Boardman in the Made to Move mission statement, before going on to call for cycling and walking alternatives that are 'easy, attractive and safe'.

The report took three months to put together and comprises a 15-point plan including a ring-fenced, 10-year, £1.5 billion infrastructure fund for walking and cycling.

Such an investment would bring Greater Manchester’s spending on cycling and walking in line with other major conurbations, such as London and Oslo.

Boardman said: “There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly ambitious but wholly deliverable plan to get Greater Manchester moving by bike and walking.

“The Mayor of Greater Manchester tasked me with thinking creatively, challenging assumptions and pushing the boundaries of what should be possible. My proposals, the product of many months of work, will ease congestion on our overcrowded roads, improve our general health and wellbeing and help us breathe cleaner air in a greener city-region.

“It will require significant support but the decades of improved living that we, our children and grandchildren will be able enjoy will make it worthwhile.”

Boardman wants to build more than 700 miles of safe cycle lanes and claims that such an investment would result in a return of at least £8.3bn in public benefits.

At present, 50 per cent of adults in Greater Manchester are considered physically inactive, costing the NHS more than £500,000 per week.

Outlining the standards he would strive for, Boardman said that all cycling routes should pass the '12-year-old test' and that all walking routes should pass the 'buggy test' – a way of saying that all new infrastructure should be accessible to all.

Andy Burnham is backing Boardman’s plans and said: “Chris has identified the need for substantial investment in our cycling infrastructure and in response, we are aiming to create a challenge fund of around £50 million a year from 2019 to 2021, which will be able to be accessed by our 10 districts if they are building to the required standard and meeting part of the costs. This will go a considerable way towards meeting the required funding challenge and we will provide initial funding next year to get things going.

“Investing in cycling and walking will not only improve the air that we breathe, it will help tackle our crippling congestion problem and improve our health, wellbeing and environment.”

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Cycling UK, said: “Chris Boardman’s report shows an exciting level of ambition which the Government and other cities now need to copy. Meanwhile, we look forward to working with Chris, the Mayor of Great Manchester, and other partners to turn these ambitions into detailed plans and reality on the ground.”

British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington said: “At British Cycling we are committed to working with everyone who wants to transform Britain into a great cycling nation, and, with Manchester, we have a unique opportunity to create a blueprint for every city that wants to change the way people travel and lead healthier, happier lives in the process.”

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