Politicians from four different political parties who are hoping to become the first elected mayor of Greater Manchester in next week’s elections have pledged to get more people cycling in the region.
Metro mayoral elections are being held in six English regions this Thurdsday 4 May. Besides Greater Manchester, mayors will be elected in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Mersey City Region, Tees Valley, West Midlands and West of England.
The charity Cycling UK teamed up with cycle campaigners in those regions to call for action in three areas, and supported by an email campaign from local residents, to:
Plan and deliver a dedicated Greater Manchester-wide network of safe cycle infrastructure
Develop a dedicated budget for cycling and walking within Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and
Work towards a highways network with zero road traffic fatalities or serious injuries.
In Greater Manchester, which has benefited in recent years from Department for Transport Cycle City Ambition cash, the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green Party mayoral candidates all pledged support to the three areas.
Andy Burnham (Labour): “Greater Manchester should be a place where everyone, regardless of age or economic circumstance, sees cycling as an accessible, safe and effective choice.”
Sean Anstee (Conservative): “Greater Manchester needs a transport system that works for everyone and cycling plays a key part in making that happen.”
Jane Brophy, (Liberal Democrat): “Greater Manchester must become a place where cycling is a normal and safe way for large numbers of people to get around.”
Will Patterson, (Green): “I'm keen to appoint a Walking and Cycling Champion for Greater Manchester to encourage behavioural change in the region; I'll also support campaigns in our schools for more young people to walk and cycle to school, with added backing for cycle safety training.”
No response has been received yet from the UKIP candidate.
Caroline Parker Holland, Cycling UK’s Cycling Development Officer for Manchester, commented: “Greater Manchester is very much the medals factory for cycling, with the velodrome at the heart of the city.
"However, the success of Team GB’s athletes is not yet mirrored on the city’s streets.
"Greater Manchester is the second most congested area of England and is afflicted by lethal air pollution. Creating sustainable transport options like cycling is crucial to tackling these issues head on.
"We are pleased that the candidates have recognised the benefits that cycling can have in Greater Manchester and we look forward to working with whoever is elected to make a success of their commitments.”
In the run-up to this week’s local elections, Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign led a ride and walk from Platt Fields to deliver a petition and letter calling for better conditions for walkers and cyclists to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Manchester City Council.
In Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, the Green, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP candidates all affirmed their commitment to the issues outlined by Cycling UK.
Conservative candidate James Palmer declined to reply to the questions directly, but said in a statement: “Cycling is an important mode of transport, particularly for those fortunate enough to live close to cities and have office based jobs.
“The City Deal has large amounts of money to spend on cycling routes and I will encourage them to do so.
“When new roads are built I will look in to the possibility of providing cycle routes alongside them. I will also encourage developers to include cycle routes in new estates.
“I am mindful of the popularity of cycling and it will be an important part of my vision for new infrastructure in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough,” he added.
Independent candidate Peter Dawe only backed the second and third pledges, saying: “Cycling is a key technology. Electric cycles and velocycles can transform urban transport.
“It is not effective to provide expensive infrastructure where cycles will not make a significant contribution, such as long distance routes.”
Roxanne Debeaux, campaigns officer at local cycle campaign group Camcycle, said: "Camcycle thanks Cycling UK for their Vote Bike initiative which allows voters to quickly assess the candidates’ attitudes towards cycling.
It is pleasing to see that most candidates support the Vote Bike asks.
“Following the election, we will continue to campaign for cycling and we will hold the mayor accountable for their commitments for cycling.
She added: “From day one the Mayor will have a number of challenges to deal with including keeping our region moving. Cycling is a cost effective and proven solution which will require investment and commitment from our new mayor."
Tom Guha, Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling Campaigns Officer, commented: “It is great to see that whoever is elected in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough will encourage cycling as a form of sustainable and active travel.
“The region is home to one of the greatest places to cycle in the world – Cambridge City.
This election now gives an opportunity to the rest of the region to share in Cambridge’s success.”
You can find more information about Cycling UK’s Vote Bike initiative here.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.