Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey, has unveiled a refreshed active travel mission for the city-region focusing on accessibility, behaviour change and clear communications.
The updated policy sets out Dame Sarah’s priorities and approaches to active travel in Greater Manchester to ensure the benefits of walking, wheeling and cycling are unlocked for all residents and communities across the city-region.
Active travel is central to the future of transport in the city-region, plays a huge role in Greater Manchester’s net-zero ambitions and is a key component in the delivery of a fully-integrated transport system, the Bee Network.
The fresh vision was launched at The Edge Arena in Wigan on Tuesday, 1 November.
At the launch, Dame Sarah relayed ambitions to build on the foundations of Greater Manchester’s existing active travel system – which has so far seen at least 92km of routes adopted into the Bee Network by May 2022 and the successful roll-out of the first phase of the GM cycle hire scheme.
The new policy, Refreshing Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Mission, highlights the benefits of active travel and why it is fundamental to the success of other key agendas for Greater Manchester, including improved health, decarbonisation, educational attainment, and the economy.
Backed up by the evidence, Dame Sarah’s refreshed agenda calls for further momentum to ensure that all communities can reap the benefits of active travel. Improving accessibility and enabling greater uptake of active travel is at the heart of the commissioner’s role and policy, with an emphasis on the importance of walking and wheeling as the most accessible form of active travel.
Five key priorities underpin Dame Sarah’s refreshed active mission and will all drive the work and focus of the policy in the coming years.
These priorities include Infrastructure Delivery; Home to School Travel; Cycle Hire and access to cycling; Integration with Public Transport and Road Danger Reduction.
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner, said: “I am delighted to share the refreshed active travel mission for Greater Manchester and show everyone how we plan to build on the successes of the region’s first Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman.
“Providing people with the opportunity to walk, wheel or cycle is fundamental to helping us move around Greater Manchester in different ways, particularly for short trips or giving barrier-free access to public transport stops.
“But the benefits of active travel go beyond simply getting from one place to another. Research has shown how it can dramatically improve people’s health and well-being over time, and prevent thousands of long-term health conditions in this city-region alone.
“And in the current cost-of-living crisis, enabling people to switch an existing journey by car to one on foot or bike could ease the financial pressure on household budgets.
“In short, we cannot afford to not act on this agenda and now is the right time to revisit existing priorities and refresh the mission for Greater Manchester.
“I look forward to working with the Mayor, local authority leaders, the Transport Commissioner and community groups to drive forward delivery of the active travel strategy and make this the best place in the country to walk, wheel and cycle.”
The mission also sets out 10 key recommendations for active travel in Greater Manchester:
- Renew the commitment for every part of the Bee Active Network to be universally accessible.
- Deliver a pilot for trialling the carriage of bikes and non-standard cycles on trams.
- Adopt Vision Zero, clearly stating a timeframe and plan for all people in GM to commit to.
- Publish a plan for the expansion of GM’s cycle hire scheme to additional areas of Greater Manchester.
- Establish an integrated ticketing system for the Bee Network that incorporates cycle hire, allowing customers to complete end-to-end, multi-modal journeys with a single fare.
- Explore new offers – including for Our Pass holders – on Cycle Hire and TfGM’s Cycle Hubs to improve access and encourage use.
- Publish the comprehensive network review by the end of April 2023
- Publish a comprehensive update to the future pipeline of active travel infrastructure, acknowledging the previous ten-year target and including annual goals to enable progress to be transparently tracked and reported year by year. Target date of April 2023 for the initial update.
- Deliver a new plan for travel between home and school that reduces the number of children being driven less than 2km to their school and helps support Greater Manchester’s ambitions for improved air quality.
- Work with GM’s local authorities and the VCSE sector to create an expanding, accessible and diverse range of training offers to suit local needs that reaches all residents of GM by 2025. Collaborate with Bikeability to assist them in achieving the ambition to ensure that every child is able to achieve level 2 Bikeability by 2025.
Research shows that physical inactivity is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the UK with an estimated annual cost of at least £7.4 billion. Meanwhile, the benefits are cycling, walking and wheeling are already clear.
Cllr Paul Prescott, cabinet member for planning, environment and transport at Wigan Council, said: “We are thrilled to support Dame Sarah Storey’s refreshed mission for Active travel in Greater Manchester.
“Improving active travel infrastructure and accessibility has the power to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality for communities in Wigan and beyond.
“We look forward to working alongside Dame Sarah and seeing her exciting policy in action.”
Current levels of active travel in Greater Manchester are estimated to prevent at least 2,600 serious, long-term health conditions. Walking is reported to help prevent at least 425 early deaths annually and cycling more than 50. Not only is active travel reducing early deaths, but it is also saving the local NHS c.£4 million a year.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham said: “Walking, wheeling and cycling are central to our vision for the future of transport in Greater Manchester and the delivery of the Bee Network.
“Earlier this year, I was delighted that Dame Sarah Storey agreed to become Greater Manchester’s new Active Travel Commissioner. Her expertise and passion for active travel will be essential to the delivery of our ambitious plans for this area of transport, giving people new choices about the way they move around our city-region.
“Dame Sarah is the right person to lead us towards these goals and I am grateful to her for this report.”
Dame Sarah also provided an update on the roll-out of the first phase of the GM Cycle Hire Scheme. So far, more than 450 bikes have been made available to hire and 1000 stations installed across Manchester city centre, Salford and Trafford since the scheme’s launch last Autumn.
To celebrate the near completion of the scheme and provide people with an opportunity to find out more for themselves, a free 15-minute ride is being offered to both new and existing scheme users on Saturday 5 November.
Dame Sarah added: “The cycle hire scheme has been a huge success to date – providing thousands of people in the city centre, and parts of Salford and Trafford with access to a healthy and cost-effective way to travel.
“The roll-out of the scheme means that now even more people can enjoy the benefits of the scheme and to enable new users to find out more and as a thank you to existing users we are offering a free 15-minute ride on Saturday 5 November.
“We want as many people as possible to access this scheme and I’d encourage everyone to take us up on the offer and take a bike for a spin.”
To find out more visit the TFGM website.