Chris Boardman calls on government to help fund ‘revolutionary’ cycling network for Manchester

The new network hopes tackle climate change, congestion and inactivity, but the authorities need funding

(Image credit: Getty Images for OVO Energy)

Chris Boardman has called on the government to help fund a “revolutionary” cycle network for Manchester that could give a huge boost to cyclists in the city.

Former Olympian Boardman and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham have released further details about the ‘Bee Network’, a 1,800-mile, £1.5billion cycling and walking setup.

There are currently 12 cycling and walking schemes in development in Manchester, but Boardman says the authorities are “hamstrung” without a commitment from the government to help pay for the project.

He highlighted the fact that the government is spending £1.4billion on revamping a major junction on the A1 in Bedfordshire.

Boardman, the cycling and walking commissioner for the city, said: “With one-in-three car journeys in Greater Manchester being less than one kilometre, it’s clear we have to change. It’s impacting our air, our health and the place we’re expecting our children to grow up, get on and grow old.

“All ten Greater Manchester councils have taken on this challenge and they’ve already started transforming ambition into action. But without confirmed government investment, we are hamstrung. To revolutionise travel across a whole city region, we’re asking for the same financial backing over a ten-year period as it’s costing for a single junction improvement scheme in Bedford. I know which will return the best investment for a nation, never mind a region.”

According to Manchester City Council, the Bee Network could increase cycling or walking trips in Greater Manchester by 900,000 per day and bring in £6bn of public benefits, while helping to tackle the climate crisis, improve public health, and reduce congestion.

The network would include segregated cycle lanes, upgraded pedestrian crossing points and junction improvements.

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Labour mayor Andy Burnham said: “Great Manchester is creating the blueprint for a real culture change in the way people travel.

“Now we have a world-class plan and we know how to deliver it, but we cannot do it alone. We need the government to back us with sustained funding over the next 10 years to enable us to complete the Bee Network.

“Put simply, if they help us change our city-region, we can help change the country too.”

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.