Council urges Wiganers to get on their bikes

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Town hall chiefs have unveiled a bold new strategy aimed at encouraging Wiganers to get on their bike.

The project has set an ambitious target of getting 10 per cent of all journeys in the borough to be made on a bicycle by 2025.

And officers say they intend to put in place a series of measures designed to create what they call a “cycling to work” culture in Wigan.

This includes a new town hall policy which will see a bike lane network through the borough.

Officers hope to encourage commuters to take to two wheels each morning by improving conditions in an environment “where cycling is regarded as safe and convenient”.

The plans have been discussed by councillors this week and will be delivered as part of the town hall’s over-arching transport policy.

Promoting cycling will help ease the borough’s congestion problems, the report submitted by transport strategy manager Rob Owen claims.

It reads: “Wigan’s transport has evolved to favour the private motor vehicle over all else and there is no doubt this has brought flexibility and independence.

“However, the number of cars, particularly at peak times, is placing parts of the road network under severe strain.”

Working alongside Transport for Greater Manchester, the council will aim to improve cycle access and facilities at transport stops.

The policy has received a ringing endorsement from Sarah van de Berg, a Wigan mum who transformed her life through cycling.

Having been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Sarah started cycling to work every day and ended up embarking on a 1,000 mile cycle tour of Europe last year.

An advocate of sustainable travel options, she told the Evening Post: “Anything that encourages people to cycle to work is a really positive thing for the borough.

“It will help with congestion and the health benefits of cycling rather than driving are self-evident.

“One aspect I think is very important is that safe and secure places to leave your bike are vital, especially for people who will cycle rather than drive to train stations, for example.

“If people know their bikes, which are expensive things, are going to be safe then they’re even more likely to take it up and it’s encouraging to see.”

The cycling strategy also suggests guideline plans to redevelop major cycle-way routes through the borough linked to all transport hubs and employment centres.

The report concludes: “Our ambition is that the borough becomes a more focussed, well known for cycling location with higher participation rates on safer routes.”