Cycle network boost after council reverses position to work with neighbours

Plans for a 200km network of temporary cycle lanes have been boosted after Manchester council agreed to work with neighbouring boroughs proposing routes into the city.

Greater Manchester has tabled a £21.5m bid for government funding to cover the pop-up lanes, which will cover 94km of major roads, and wider measures to improve walking and cycling in the city-region.

Mayor Andy Burnham said the final decision rested with local leaders and stressed that the current proposals were ‘not the finished article’.

Manchester council had been accused of ‘endangering lives’ by refusing to build temporary cycle lanes linking to surrounding proposed routes, meaning some would stop abruptly at the city’s border.

But in a statement the town hall appeared to relax its position by saying it would work with those proposing routes approaching Manchester on a case-by-case basis ‘to ensure that safety for all road users is prioritised’.

This has been welcomed by councillors in other authorities such as Coun David Meller, who had said Manchester had sent a ‘dreadful message’ after ‘resisting’ Stockport’s route suggestion.

Reacting to the statement on Twitter he said: “I welcome the commitment from Manchester council to work with districts on pop-up bike lanes. We can make this work. A positive step.”

Meanwhile leaders in Manchester have submitted their own £600k bid to the government’s emergency active travel fund to establish temporary pedestrian and cycle-only zones in the city centre.

This includes vehicle-free zones at Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter and on Ducie Street, from London Road to Dale Street.

Mr Burnham said the council was meeting its priorities for the city centre and the challenge of catering for pedestrians as well as other road users like cyclists.

The mayor told his weekly coronavirus press conference that Greater Manchester’s wider bid was the ‘first big expression of interest’ in providing emergency active travel measures.

“This is something all 10 districts are looking at very seriously and they’re working at great speed,” he said.

“They’re making sure they get this right and joined up, and [the combined authority] are the facilitators, we’re there to support those discussions.

“I don’t think we’re at the finished article here. There’s more to be done, give us time to get it as good as we can make it for people who can’t find a route on public transport, and don’t have a car, to find an alternative route into the city.”

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