Oldham Council has unveiled a new plan to create 65 miles of new cycling and walking routes as part of a proposal for Greater Manchester to create the UK’s biggest network.
As well as the new routes, 80 new or upgraded crossing points are being proposed to better connect every community in the district and to make cycling and walking a real alternative to the car.
One ‘filtered’ neighbourhood is also being proposed in Oldham town centre, where the movement of people is prioritised with places to sit, play and socialise.
The plans are part of a new 1,000 mile long network – named Beelines– which will be the largest joined-up network in the UK and has been developed with all 10 of the local authorities that make up Greater Manchester.
The proposals, announced by Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, are subject to formal approval by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) on Friday 29 June.
Around 250 million car journeys of less than one kilometre are made per year in Greater Manchester; the equivalent of a 15 minute walk or a five minute bike ride.
Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “As a council we want all of our residents to be fit and healthy.
“Not everybody has the time, or inclination, to go to the gym or exercise classes but cycling and walking can fit easily around most people’s daily routine as a mode of travel.
“For these to be an option for more people it’s essential that we make it as easy as possible for our residents to make their journeys on foot or by bike, which is why Beelines is such a good idea.
“We’re doing our bit by improving and upgrading routes and opening cycle hubs across the borough, for example. Please do your bit if you can – leave your car at home and also help improve the environment.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I have no doubt that Chris Boardman and Oldham Council will do us proud and make journeys on foot or by bike the first choice for local trips.
“This will help to tackle congestion and it will help to tackle poor air quality, as well as boosting people’s health and fitness levels. We have £160m to get us started and we have a plan that has something in it for every single person in Greater Manchester.”
Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “I have been massively impressed by the political will of Oldham Council to come together to make this plan a reality.
“It’s not really about people using bikes and walking; it’s about making better places to live and work by giving normal people a real choice about how they travel. In doing so, we will make the city region healthier and more prosperous.”
Maps showing the proposed plans for each local authority in Greater Manchester have been published on Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)’s website.
The proposed routes and crossing points have also been published on open data website mappinggm.org.uk,where interested members of the public can collaborate on the plans for their area.
The plans represent the first iteration of the network that could be expected to be delivered over the next four years. A second iteration of the map will be published later in the year.
Chris Boardman added: “Planners, engineers and most importantly, local people in each district led on creating the first draft of these plans, which will evolve in the months and years ahead.
“By involving local people from the very first stage, and enabling them to inform the details of each proposed route and crossing, we will get the outcome they need, not what we think they need.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, made the decision in March to allocate £160 million of the government’s Transforming Cities fund to the project which brings the total spend on cycling and walking in Greater Manchester to around £15 per head.