Over Â£1.5 billion will be spent to transform walking and cycling routes across Greater Manchester, under plans unveiled by the regionâ€™s Mayor, Andy Burnham, and cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman yesterday (26 June).
The plans centre around the creation of a network of over 1,000 miles of dedicated cycling and walking routes, including 75 miles of â€˜Dutch-styleâ€™ segregated bike lanes.
The proposals, which are subject to formal approval by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) tomorrow, also include plans for 1,400 safer road crossings on the majority of routes and 25 â€˜filtered neighbourhoodsâ€™, where priority will be given to the movement of people.
The plans are targeted at reducing the regionâ€™s dependence on car journeys for transport, with Transport for Greater Manchester estimating that around 250 million car journeys of less than one kilometre are made each year â€“ the equivalent of a 15-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride.
TfGM adds that the so-called â€˜Beelinesâ€™ network will be the largest joined-up system of walking and cycling routes in the UK. It has been developed with all 10 Greater Manchester local authorities.
Unveiling the plans, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: â€œGreater Manchester has a long history of doing innovative things and our approach to Beelines is no different.
â€œThis proposal is bold and I make no apology for that. If weâ€™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 is action of this sort which will help to deliver that promise.â€
He added: â€œThis will help to tackle congestion and it will help to tackle poor air quality, as well as boosting people’s health and fitness levels.
â€œWe have Â£160m to get us started and we have a plan that has something in it for every single person in Greater Manchester.â€
A planned first version of the network has been published, and could be built over the next five years. An updated version of the Beelines map is expected to be published later in the year.
Commenting on the proposals, the governmentâ€™s minister for cycling and walking, Jesse Norman MP, added: â€œThe great city-region of Manchester is setting a fantastic example with this project. I commend Chris Boardman and his team for their energy and focus in making it happen.
â€œThis is a really exciting plan to encourage more people to cycle and walk. But at the same time it will improve air quality, reduce congestion and improve health, by giving local people real alternatives to driving.
â€œEarlier this year we awarded Greater Manchester nearly Â£250m as part of the Governmentâ€™s new Transforming Cities Fund, and I am delighted to see it being put to good use.
â€œGreater Manchester is already a great place to live, but this initiative plan will make it even better. I hugely look forward to seeing how this work progresses.â€
The plans published today have a combined budget of around Â£500 million and represent a first step in the planned Â£1.5 billion investment, TfGM said.