City street design has long gestation period. More than two years on from the first Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC) infrastructure session, covered in NTM26, recently published strategy documents at the Greater Manchester level show the city’s infrastructure is still high on the agenda for many.

Chris Boardman, appointed Cycling and Walking Commissioner in 2017, has been vocal on the subject. He led the creation of Made to Move, a report which demands £1.5 billion in funding over ten years, with the aim of exceeding the £17 per head per year invested in London’s cycling systems. Made to Move points to the ‘cost of doing nothing’, with congestion (£1.3 billion), air quality (£1.1 billion), suppression of exercise (£300 million), global warming via roads (£250 million) and reported and unreported casualties (£800 million) all among the negative externalities of the status quo. Although equating these phenomena to financial figures is a curious compromise of our money-driven world, it serves to illustrate need to the bankrollers and accountants.

On the latter point, Boardman has voiced concern through the press about the perceived and actual safety of urban cycling in the UK. Academic papers have long supported the premise that the cyclist’s experience of the urban environment, including the perception of safe, comfortable and continuous cycling infrastructure, will lead to an increase in usage and in turn decrease the above negatives. For example, while Forsyth and Krizek (2012) evidence a theory that urban design should take more seriously the experience of cycling, Hull and O’Holleran (2014) devised a scoring system based on the perceptions by an experienced cyclist and an inexperienced cyclist of six case study cities. The latter’s recommendations are for strong government, clear signage, cycle training for all new drivers and continual improvement of cycling infrastructure such as road surface material and junction navigation.

Greater Manchester Cycle Network GMCC

Recommendations such as these have seeped into the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 published by TfGM last year, which prioritises sustainable transport and aspires to see 10% of all trips in the region made by bike by 2025, so the policy is in place. On the topic of strong government, the Cycling and Walking report adds that Greater Manchester’s ten districts “must identify the routes to be enhanced,” so emphasising local councillors’ role in implementing the plans. Hence, GMCC’s next target in reviving their city cycle ways priorities plan is with an eye on the local elections coming up in May. GMCC will be meeting on the last Wednesday of each month at Rain Bar to discuss and draw up potential campaigning strategies to encourage prospective councillors to pledge support for progressive and safer walking and cycling environments in their neighbourhood. Their next open meeting takes place on Wednesday 28 February. Get involved.

Ian Pennington