A buzz about Greater Manchester's new bee cycle network

A “revolutionary” cycling and walking network in Greater Manchester would provide a national blueprint to reduce congestion and air pollution as well as improve health, a report says.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 10:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 10:08 am
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and British cycling champion Chris Boardman
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and British cycling champion Chris Boardman

The foundation of the “world-class” plan is the Bee Network, which will provide 1,800 miles of protected space for cycling and walking throughout the region.

In addition, there are plans for 17 “filtered neighbourhoods” - Dutch-inspired areas - that prioritise the movement of people over the movement of motor vehicles.

It is anticipated these measures will allow children to walk or ride to school safely and give people the option to leave the car at home.

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Over the next 10 years it is projected the network will help deliver a 350% increase in daily cycling trips from 100,000 to 450,000 and a rise in daily walking trips by a third from 1,480,000 to 2,050,000.

Other expected benefits include up to 130,000 fewer daily private car and taxi trips, a 10% reduction in traffic, an improvement in some journey times by up to 50% and an estimated £6.73 billion health boost.

But the Government needs to provide financial backing to make the proposals, costing £1.5 billion, become a reality, say Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman, who is the region’s cycling and walking commissioner.

Mr Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is creating the blueprint for a real culture change in the way people travel.

“Our city-region’s 10 districts have been working on these plans since 2017 and, crucially, residents have helped to develop them based on what they want their neighbourhoods to look like.

“Now we have a world-class plan and we know how to deliver it but we cannot do it alone.

“We need the Government to back us with sustained funding over the next 10 years to enable us to complete the Bee Network. If they do so they will be helping create a model that can be replicated across the rest of the country. Put simply, if they help us change our city-region we can help change the country too.”

Mr Boardman said “With one in three car journeys in Greater Manchester being less than one kilometre, it’s clear we have to change. It’s impacting our air, our health and the place we’re expecting our children to grow up, get on and grow old.

“All 10 Greater Manchester councils, including Wigan, have taken on this challenge and they’ve already started transforming ambition into action. But without guaranteed government investment we are hamstrung.

“To revolutionise travel across a whole city region we’re asking for the same financial backing over a 10-year period as it’s costing for a single junction improvement scheme in Bedford. I know which will return the best investment - not only for our city-region but the nation as a whole.”

The Change a Region to Change a Nation report was jointly commissioned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the Mayor.