The Transport Select Committee visited Greater Manchester this week (7 March).
Our Charlotte McHugh went along to find out what's being done in the region to help people walk and cycle more.
As part of its ‘Made to Move’ ambition, Greater Manchester wants to ‘double and then double again’ cycling in the region and make walking the natural choice for as many short trips as possible.
Made to Move is Chris Boardman’s 15-step report to Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester. It outlines plans of how to transform the region, with a vision of a fully joined up cycling and walking network covering 1000 miles for Greater Manchester.
Andy Burnham asked the Transport Select Committee for more powers to realise the ambition for Greater Manchester, including civil enforcement of traffic offences and means to tackle pavement parking. He asked that Manchester be granted the same level of powers that is currently available to London.
Representatives from local walking and cycling groups, WalkRide GM and the Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign also shared their views with the Committee on the importance of helping people to walk and cycle more.
The members welcomed the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) but highlighted the importance of increased investment and more ambitious targets for walking. The Committee was asked for an immediate 5% of the overall transport budget to be dedicated to active travel, rising to 10% (currently cycling and walking only receive about 1% of the government's transport budget). The need for consistent, long-term funding was echoed by all members giving evidence to the panel.
Representatives from the walking and cycling groups told the panel that politicians needed to be ‘bold and brave’ in their ambition for active travel and make walking and cycling ‘normal and comfortable’ choices for people in Greater Manchester. They emphasized the need to make walking and cycling safe, reducing speed and making space for people travelling on foot and by bike.
It was felt there was a need to bring people along with the changes taking place in Greater Manchester; to raise awareness of how walking and cycling has the capacity to improve people’s quality of life.
The Mayor highlighted that getting more people walking and cycling was the best option to tackle many of the issues that we face and provides the biggest return over all other transport in terms of benefits to the public.