Thursday, May 16, 2013

Manchester’s Going Dutch

Plans to bring a Northern European urban experience to Northern England are part of an ambitious plan to make Manchester the cycling capital of the country.

If you haven’t signed it yet, then please support Vélocity 2025 , Greater Manchester’s bid for funding to radically improve the cycle ways of the city.

I must admit to being a recent convert to the joys of two wheeled transport. I bought a smart new folding bike last year. I will confess that for a big chunk of the winter it remained folded in the back of my car.

Now the weather is better, so my bike is out again, and it is a joy to be alive.

When you start cycling, you do see the world very differently. It is also true that many cyclists maintain a lofty moral high ground, while other road users resent many of their flexible adherence to rules and codes. However, on balance, until I see hospital wards full of angry white van men and injured bus drivers mown down by lycra clad couriers, I know where my sympathies lie.

However, these clashes brought me to a swift conclusion that barely used cycle lanes were a waste of time. The better option is proper cycle only lanes.

Manchester seems to have embraced this in the grand plan too with some really progressive and radical thinking around the planning of new cycleways in and around the whole of the city region.

The most dramatic change proposed is closing a half mile stretch of Oxford Road around the University to cars. I’m sure there are people who will rant and rave about that, but it is such a positive step.

So, the bones of the bid are for £20 million of national investment, to be spent over two years, to make cycling safer and easier. If successful this will be the first phase of the ambitious Vélocity 2025 strategy which will see cycling in Greater Manchester transformed over the next 12 years.

It comes as part of the government’s Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG), which offers financial support for ambitious long-term plans for cycling in British cities and city regions.

Greater Manchester wants to kick-start a generational shift with a programme that has the potential to make cycling a part of everyday life and increase, by 2025, the number of people cycling by 300%.

If CCAG funds are awarded, they would unlock cycling investment for Vélocity 2025 worth £150 to £200 million from a range of public and private partners.

Check the Vélocity 2025 document out and hopefully it will convince you to add your support.

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