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How is Greater Manchester Refreshing its Active Travel Mission?

3 min

Image Credit: Mangopear creative, Unsplash
Active Travel Commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey has unveiled a refreshed active travel mission for Greater Manchester, which focuses on accessibility, behaviour change and clear communications. Quadrant Transport explores the main points of the policy.

The new policy, ‘Refreshing Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Mission’ outlines the benefits of active travel and highlights why it is crucial to the success of other key agendas for Greater Manchester, including improved health, decarbonisation, educational attainment, and the economy.

Five key priorities are explained in the policy, these include: Infrastructure delivery, home-to-school travel, cycle hire and access to cycling, integration with public transport and road danger reduction.

More Sustainable Transport Options Are Needed To Encourage Modal Shift

Dame Sarah Storey is aiming 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 as of May 2022, and the successful roll-out of the first phase of the GM cycle hire scheme.

“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,” commented Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner.

“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.

Travel Needs To Become More Accessible For All Greater Manchester Residents

Going forward, Greater Manchester is seeking input and involvement from the wide array of stakeholders and members of the public who are already invested in making active travel more accessible for all.

To deliver on the plan, Dame Sarah Storey has developed ten recommendations for the region. The first three are, 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, and adopt Vision Zero – clearly stating a timeframe and plan for all people in Greater Manchester to commit to.

Publishing a plan for the expansion of Greater Manchester’s cycle hire scheme to additional areas of the region and establishing an integrated ticketing system for the Bee Network that incorporates cycle hire, to allow customers to complete end-to-end, multi-modal journeys with a single fare are both needed to encourage people to leave their bikes behind for more sustainable transport.

Another recommendation Dame Sarah Storey has developed to encourage modal shift is the exploring of new offers on cycle hire and TfGM’s Cycle Hubs.

There are still around 500 million journeys of less than three miles which are driven in Greater Manchester annually. If 80% of these journeys were walked, wheeled or cycled, it could save approximately 160,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Credit: Greater Manchester’s ‘Refreshing Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Mission’ policy

By the end of April 2023, she wants to see a published comprehensive network review, which she requested on taking up the Active Travel Commissioner role.

In addition to this, Dame Sarah Storey has highlighted the importance of seeing a published compressive update to the future pipeline of active travel infrastructure, which acknowledges the previous ten-year target. Annual goals must be included to enable progress to be transparently tracked and reported year by year.

For Greater Manchester to reach its net zero goals and to see improved air quality, a new plan needs to be delivered for travel between home and school that reduces the number of children being driven less than 2km to their school.

The final recommendation that Dame Sarah Storey has for the region is to work with its local authorities and the VCSE sector to create an expanding, accessible and diverse range of training offers to suit local needs that reach all residents by 2025.