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Andy Burnham says Greater Manchester £21.5m cycling bid is ‘work in progress’ in response to city council’s resistance to pop-up bike lanes

Still unclear how other boroughs’ plans will join up in the centre

The Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, says Manchester City Council is now working with other districts to join up proposed cycle routes after the council’s apparent reluctance to invest in pop-up infrastructure had seemed set to leave a five-mile hole at the very centre of the region’s infrastructure.

Last week, Manchester City Council responded to a question on Twitter about when pop-up cycle lanes might appear by saying: “Temporary pop-up cycling infrastructure may seem like a good short-term solution. However, we believe long-term, sustainable modal shift to bikes is best supported through investment in creating safe, durable cycling infrastructure.”

The tweet caused confusion with the region having tabled a £21.5m bid for government funding for pop-up cycle lanes on 94km of major roads.

Greater Manchester comprises 10 boroughs of which Manchester is just one. While the other nine have been putting forward proposals, Manchester’s involvement is crucial – as highlighted by Andrew Gwynne, the Labour MP for Denton and Reddish.

Gwnne said that Manchester City Council needed to, “play ball, just like the other nine Greater Manchester Councils have.”

Place North-West reports that at his weekly coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, Burnham tried to reassure residents that the region’s £21.5m active travel bid wasn’t “the finished article” and that more would be done to refine proposals.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “Give us time to get this as good as we can make it. Manchester City Council is working with districts to make sure it joins up the cycle routes proposed but that work is ongoing.” 

He continued: “The challenge that the city council has is with the footfall and creating space for pedestrians to socially distance, while also accommodating other road users such as cyclists.

“All 10 of our districts are looking at this very seriously and they are having to work at great speed given the timetables the Government has put down.”

Manchester council has itself bid for £600,000 from the government’s emergency active travel fund.

Plans include temporary pedestrian and cycle-only zones in Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter and on Ducie Street.

It is also looking to make cycle network improvements at 20 locations and implement 'low-traffic filtered neighbourhoods’ in the north and south of the city.

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