Friday, 1 January 2010

2010 : The Year of the Bicycle ?

Well lets hope so.  There is plenty of evidence that increasing the number of people cycling can help reduce air pollution, traffic congestion, obesity levels and C02 emissions.  More positively, increasing cycling levels can help people become fitter, healthier as well as save money. (Re)designing and (re)engineering communities to make it easier, safer and more desirable to walk and cycle can also help to improve social cohesion at the community level. 

Some of this work will require funding and unfortunately Manchester was unsuccessful in its 2008 bid to become the first Cycling Demonstration City and neither did Greater Manchester get shortlisted in 2009 for the Sustainable Travel City funding.

But 2010 will provide many opportunities (and challenges) to increase the resources available to improve the cycling facilities and level of cycling promotion within Greater Manchester.

Here are a couple of things to look out for:

Local Transport Plan (LTP3) for Greater Manchester.  This Plan will decide how much funding will be allocated for promoting "active travel" (cycling & walking) and will be drafted and consulted on during 2010.   Various campaign groups will be lobbying to increase the resources made available for cycling.  Give them a hand if you can.

Local Development Framework (LDF).  During 2010 many of the Greater Manchester councils will be consulting on their draft Core Strategies.  When completed these LDFs will replace the Unitary Development Plans (UDPs) for each Council.  Now this may all sound very, very dull (and it often is) but these documents will set the planning frameworks to 2025 (or beyond).  So what, I hear you ask?  Well here is one example, if you want better cycle parking facilities outside buildings, offices and local shops then lobby your Council to include better cycle parking guidance in their Core Strategy document. This will set the amounts of cycle parking that the Planning Departments will require any new (or redeveloped) buildings to provide.  (See the No Place to Park (My Bike) post)

Manchester's Climate Change Action Plan includes some interesting references to developing cycle facilities and cycling promotion. These include:

  • Smarter choices will be easier to make. Cycle and pedestrian routes will cross the city region, making it easy to get around without cars. Our workplaces will encourage cycling and walking to work with storage, changing facilities and bike rental schemes 
  • Invest in active transport such as a City Centre network of Cycle Centres; pedestrian and cycleroutes; and interchange and storage facilities at public transport and cycling destinations.
  • Support businesses and other organisations in developing sustainable and low carbon travel plans, including car sharing, car pools, public transport ticket schemes, workplace cycle facilities and flexible working.
  • Develop mechanisms to encourage more people to cycle and walk as part of their own travel plan.
  • There will be workplace facilities for cyclists, walkers and runners and advice available for those looking to travel more sustainably as well as adult bicycle training to give people the confidence to travel by bicycle.
  • A major programme of development and investment will have extended the reach andintegration of the city’s public transport network and there will be a wider network of cycle paths available, too.
Which all sound nice and lovely, but as with all plans the hard part is to convert the nice words into real actions. So here is one challenge for 2010. Another is to encourage the other 9 Greater Manchester councils to develop Climate Change Action Plans that go beyond what Manchester is promising to do.

Local Elections.  All 10 Greater Manchester councils will be holding elections for local councillors in May.  Even if you don't want to vote for them..... why not ask the candidates if they support increasing the number of people cycling and what they will do to achieve this ?

This stuff works! Supporting increased cycle training and promotion can deliver. Last December, Cycling England reported that the use of bicycles had increased by 27 per cent on average in the six cycle demonstration towns it supported between 2005 and 2008. Cycling England calclated that "each pound spent on cycling in Aylesbury, Brighton and Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster delivered benefits worth £2.59 in reduced mortality as people became more physically active"  (Cycle towns show benefit)

So have a Happy New Year and lets hope that "to start cycling again" or "to cycle more" are two New Year Resolutions that many more people get to keep.

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