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Manchester makes a Beeline for bikes – aims to create UK’s largest cycling network

It’s not really about people using bikes and walking – it’s about making better places to live
– Chris Boardman

Officials in Manchester have revealed plans to create a city-wide cycling and walking network made up of more than 1,000 miles of routes – including 75 miles of Dutch-style segregated bike lanes.

The ‘Beelines’ network – named after Manchester’s civic symbol of the worker bee – will be the largest joined-up system of walking and cycling routes in the UK.

Developed in partnership by the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities and Olympic champion cyclist Chris Boardman, the proposals also include plans for 25 ‘filtered neighbourhoods’, where priority will be given to the movement of people.

The filtered districts will also include more public spaces to sit, play and socialise.

Published today, the plans carry a cost of around £500m and are the first stage of a planned £1.5bn investment in the city's transport infrastructure.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, has earmarked £160m of the government’s Transforming Cities fund to the project’s first four years.

The grants mean that the total spend on cycling and walking in Greater Manchester is equivalent to around £15 per head – a level only seen in cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where cycling and walking make up 25 per cent of all journeys.

The plans have been driven by Boardman, who was appointed the region’s walking and cycling commissioner in 2017.

“I’ve been massively impressed by the political will of all of Greater Manchester’s 10 authorities to come together to make this plan a reality," Boardman said.

“It’s not really about people using bikes and walking – it’s about making better places to live and work by giving people a real choice about how they travel. In doing so, we’ll make the city -region healthier and more prosperous.

“We’ve seen from other global cities that these methods work and the benefits are there for all to see – we simply can't afford to be left behind.

“So now the hard work begins and we’ll be working closely with all local authorities and partners to deliver this plan as urgently as possible.”

The plans are now subject to formal approval by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), which will consider the proposals on Friday 29 June.

“Greater Manchester has a long history of doing innovative things and our approach to Beelines is no different," said Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

“This proposal is bold and I make no apology for that. If we’re to cut congestion and clean up our air, decisive action is needed. I want to make Greater Manchester one of the top 10 places in the world to live and it’s action of this sort which will help to deliver that promise.

“I’ve no doubt that Chris Boardman and the 10 local authorities which make up Greater Manchester will do us proud and make journeys on foot or by bike the first choice for local trips."

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