Change a region to change a nation
31st January 2020
Greater Manchester this week published its walking & cycling investment plan, Change a Region to Change a Nation.
The plan has a foreword from Mayor Andy Burnham and a word from Walking & Cycling commissioner Chris Boardman. The sections which follow are comprehensive plan, community engagement, delivery, the economic case for investement, and unlocking potential.
The Mayor says the Bee Network will be 1,800 miles of walking and cycling routes, and will ensure children can make safe journeys independently. It will give people a 'genuine choice about the way they make short journeys.' He calls for sustained government funding over the next ten years.
Boardman makes several points including these:
- public awareness of the climate crisis is increasing, and using private cars for even the shortest journeys is a big part of the problem
- Prime Minister Johnson has experience of setting up cycle infrastructure in London; Boardman goes too far in his praise of Johnson, but perhaps this is strategic
- 30% of all car journeys in Greater Manchester are less than 1km
- Greater Manchester has allocated £160 million from the Transforming Cities fund to the walking & cycling network
- it will take 10 years and £1.5 billion for it to be delivered in full
- therefore, a long-term funding settlement from central government is needed
- return on investment would be at least £4 for every £1 spent
The introduction sets out the problems caused by 200 million trips of under 1km made by car in Greater Manchester every year. They contribute to climate change, poor air quality and congestion, result in diseases stemming from inactivity, and lead to 700 people being seriously injured or killed on the roads.
Greater Manchester's research shows that there is a desire to cycle and walk more. 47% of the population would cycle more if the conditions were better. 77% support building more protected cycle lanes.
A coordinated approach to helping people walk and ride more includes these elements:
- an inclusive design process that lets local people influence where the network needs to go
- high quality infrastructure that gives a constant sense of comfort
- a danger reduction strategy that encourages safe behaviour by road users
- ensuring access to a bike
Greater Manchester's Bee Network will include 435 miles of Protected Space; 2,400 crossings of busy roads will be added; and there will be filtered neighbourhoods, 17 of which have been identified so far.
There are to be 'extremely high design standards' (something a 12-year-old would choose to use, and their parents would let them). The standards will be tested via a Streets for All Check. The proposed comprehensive wayfinding system is based on the Dutch Knooppunten system.
A Streets for All Design Guide is currently in development, and a comprehensive training programme for local authority officers has been developed. Councillors have taken part in the training too.
Greater Manchester is looking to embed 'a culture of walking and cycling'. Activities that may help achieve this include community street events, school streets, skills training, and mass-participation rides. As a guide, TfL's budget for such activities is about £1.60 per person.
Here, the principle of community engagement is explained. It helps ensure schemes are more popular, and deliver them faster, compared with top-down approaches.
The report reveals that TfGM has produced a best-practice consultation guide.
The full 1,800 miles of the Bee Network will take 10 years and cost £1.5 billion. So far, the pipeline of schemes in development amounts to £500 million (420 miles of the Network), but there is a funding gap of £215 million.
The report identifies the cost of certain elements:
- £3 million per mile of Dutch-style segregated cycle route
- £80-140,000 for new signal crossings
- £60,000 for parallel zebra crossings
Economic case for investment
The report notes that walking and cycling result in improved health outcomes, decarbonisation, cleaner air, and reduced congestion. That's why investing in cycling and walking gives the highest possible value for money rating, 'a fact widely recognised and then equally widely ignored'.
The monetary benefits of the Bee Network from health and productivity improvements are potentially £6 billion from £1.5 billion spent.
Here, the report identifies practical changes that would allow the Bee Network to be delivered at lower cost. They include:
- allowing trials of road markings, such as priority to those crossing side streets on foot
- reinvesting money from fixed penalty notices in community road safety activity
- developing the DfT's TAG transport analysis guidance to fully capture the costs of car-led development and the benefits of walking and cycling
- long-term funding settlements
The report notes: 'Across Britain, hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent and continue to be spent on road "improvement" projects which involve only painted cycle lanes to cater for cycling. Evidence now confirms this type of provision is often insufficient to make people feel safer. Recent studies show that in many cases, the white line approach can actually make people less safe.'
Greater Manchester doesn't intend to repeat these mistakes.