THE number of Wiganers turning to pedal power has more than doubled in five years.
And predictions are that this figure is set to rise further as new cycle lanes and high vehicle fuel costs make bikes ever more appealing.
The Bradley Wiggins effect may also be a contributing factor to a new Wigan zeal for two-wheeled transport. Government figures show that the number of people in the borough who use a bike at least once a month rose from 10.3 per cent to 11.3 last year alone.
Mike Worden, assistant director of planning and transport at Wigan Council, said: “According to our data, which has been taken from automatic cycle counters that record cyclists passing fixed points, the past five years has seen figures for the borough’s residents cycling to work more than double, and people cycling socially triple. We believe these figures will continue to increase.
“In the past decade, we have bid successfully for external funds and upgraded existing cycling routes and built new ones.
“As well as cycle lanes, short cuts, traffic-calming and junction improvements on our roads, we have created traffic-free routes on canal towpaths and throughout the Greenheart regional park.
“In the borough we are fortunate to have a network of old railway lines, canal towpaths, lots of countryside and a relatively flat landscape. Wigan is a great place to cycle.”
Nationally the figure dropped from 15.3 per cent in 2011/2012 to 14.7 per cent in 2012/2013. And in Greater Manchester as a whole the number has changed little.
Transport for Greater Manchester said it was working with local authorities to get folk involved in its £40m Better ByCycle Programme.
And their are further plans afoot to improve borough facilities to get more folk saddled up. Mr Worden said: “A new traffic-free route that will connect Worsley Hall with Wigan town centre will open in June and we have secured approval for further cycling infrastructure throughout the borough over the next three years including improving connections between Leigh and Salford.
“We always work closely with developers to make sure any new development and changes are designed with cyclists in mind.
“To help cyclists to improve and build their confidence, we provide a large programme of training, and most is available to residents free of charge.
“We also have an annual programme of cycle training in schools across the borough.”