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Bristol Mayor calls for overarching transport authority in the style of Greater Manchester

George Ferguson was ambitious in his cycling plans at election - will this help him see them through?

The Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, has called for a new overarching transport authority in the style of Transport for Greater Manchester.

Mr Ferguson believes that greater cooperation between his council in Bristol, and South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, would mean more joined up transport policy.

Speaking to the Bristol Evening Post, he said: "If you look at other city's such as Manchester they take a much more joined up and pragmatic approach.

"I have been speaking to the leader of Manchester City Council to see how they work together with the other councils in the area in such a successful way.

"Manchester is a very successful metropolitan area and is a good example of how neighbouring authorities can work together."

At a time when the budgets of all local authorities are being squeezed, Mr Ferguson believes it could be a cost-saving exercise too. The newly-elected mayor has been told he will have to oversee cuts of £30 million.

He added: "I think we should move towards being a metropolitan area in the way we run things.

"The first step towards that would be creating an integrated transport authority and an integrated planning authority.

"What is needed is a strategic overview for the area. I think we have been moving in the right direction but we could be doing a lot more."

The idea will be discussed at a full council meeting next week, and it's yet to be seen how a unitary authority could affect cyclists in the city.

Cycling in Bristol is a fraught topic, with the £20 million budget between 2008 and 2010 being spent rather secretively, according to Bike Radar.

Ferguson, despite describing himself as a 'wobbler' on a bike, was actually a founder of Sustrans, which bodes well for his policies.

In an interview with Life Cycle UK, Ferguson said cyclists were: "Fit eco heroes! Apart from walkers they are the people who are most doing their bit to improve Bristol's environment and help improve the degraded urban air quality that they suffer from.

"There is the odd idiot cyclist that gives cycling a bad name, but they are very much the exception."

Ferguson has already said he will attempt to dissuade parents from driving children to school, create shared use spaces and look into radial cycle paths into the city centre.

In Manchester, council bosses have said they are considering launching a cycle hire scheme similar to that of London as part of a range of measures aimed at turning it into England’s top cycling city with more people riding bikes there than anywhere else in the country by 2017.

It’s an ambitious plan, but one that has been drawn up in partnership with British Cycling, which has its headquarters in the city, as well as Transport for Greater Manchester.

Among the council’s aims to promote cycling, reports the Manchester Evening News, are a network of cycle routes alongside canalside towpaths, centred on Sportcity where the National Cycling Centre is located, a programme to repair potholes on key routes into the city centre, increased provision of cycle parking including underneath apartment blocks that are currently planned, free cycle training and encouraging more women to take to two wheels.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on

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