“I’m delighted people are outraged,” says Chris Boardman in response to accusations South Manchester is disproportionately benefiting from Beelines cycle lane funding. “If you want more in North Manchester we’ll pay for it and build it.”
In June, Greater Manchester announced plans to create the largest cycling and walking network in the UK, comprising 1,000 miles of routes, including 75 miles of Dutch-style segregated cycle lanes. The individual routes are known as Beelines, taking their name and logo from the worker bee that is one of the emblems of the city.
Last week plans were unveiled for a £13.4m flagship route from Chorlton to Manchester with a public consultation due to run until January 11.
Many took the news as a sign that the region’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman was favouring projects in certain parts of the city. One Manchester Evening News (link is external) reader pointedly made reference to the project being located in “a leafy, green and white middle class suburb of south Manchester.”
Boardman’s response to this was unambiguous. “If people in North Manchester want more, then brilliant – let’s do more.”
He says that, “Money isn’t the problem – ambition is the hurdle to overcome.”
Expanding on that, he said: “I think the reaction is brilliant. I’m delighted people are outraged we haven’t got to theirs quickly enough. Who’d have thought we’d be in a position where there’s outrage about not getting enough cycling and walking infrastructure?
“But planning for the Chorlton scheme was already underway when we started – we’ve just massively enhanced it. We will build good infrastructure anywhere people want it. That’s why there’s a consultation.
“If you want cycle lanes in a particular area and the council will do it to the standard we’ve outlined – so it’s suitable for a 12-year-old or someone to push a double buggy – we’ll pay for it and build it.
“We are changing the way things are done in Greater Manchester. If you don’t get a scheme in the first quarter, we can do more in the next, and the one after that.”
Boardman also gave short shrift to criticism of the planned layout of the junction between Barlow Moor Road and Wilmslow Road.
“Cars having to wait is the point,” he said. “If we don’t give people the opportunity not to use their cars they will continue to use cars.”