Greater Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, and Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, have called on the Government to provide sustained funding for cycling and walking. Burnham said that active travel was currently treated as an ‘afterthought’ and asked that it be given the same status as roads investment.
Currently, only around one per cent of the Department for Transport’s budget is allocated to cycling and walking. Burnham has allocated £160m to cycling and walking projects in Greater Manchester but would like to see a consistent source of funding.
Speaking during an evidence session with the Transport Select Committee in Manchester, he said: “Successive Governments have treated cycling and walking as an afterthought. This cannot continue at a time when we’ve got congested roads, polluted air and high levels of physical inactivity.
“Greater Manchester made the bold decision to spend £160 million on cycling and walking to kick-start our plans for the UK’s largest cycling and walking network. There is a huge appetite to deliver these plans but we now need Government to show the same ambition and put in place a consistent national funding stream for cycling and walking.”
His words were echoed by Boardman, who said: “This isn’t about people riding bikes. It’s about creating healthier, better places to live, more economically-robust areas, revitalising town centres, and giving people a real and attractive alternative to driving.
“By the government’s own calculations, money invested in enabling people to cycle and walk is the most efficient transport spend that a nation can make. I just don’t understand why the penny hasn’t dropped yet.
“The transformational work we’ve started doing in Greater Manchester needs to be backed up by a consistent funding stream for active travel. The will is there – we’ve got thousands of residents keen to see improvements where they live, and the councils are up for this too. Sadly, our ambition needs to be matched by a funding model that is currently only reserved for other transport modes like motor transport. This isn’t just a problem for Greater Manchester, it’s a problem for countless other cities too like Bristol, Birmingham and Sheffield.”
Both Burnham and Boardman also said that there should be a government requirement that, where possible, cycling and walking infrastructure should be included as part of any new transport infrastructure, such as new roads or junctions.
Also speaking at the session, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia added: “We’ve been inundated with requests from residents who want to make their neighbourhoods more appealing for journeys on foot and by bike.
"We’ve got some outstanding projects on the books already, but to keep our growing city moving, we need a radical stepchange in the way we make our journeys, from longer trips across the city by bike to short walks across each of our neighbourhoods.
We’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionise how people get around and we cannot let it slip through our fingers.”