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Beelines: brilliant cycling buzz with a sting in the tail3rd August 2018 Personal Injury
This just isn't cricket.
The revelation of the extent of funding for walking and cycling infrastructure for Greater Manchester was exciting. There was a real buzz around Manchester when Chris Boardman was appointed to his commissioner role. The team around him was well-constructed and was clearly impressive. Hopes were high. Greater Manchester was on the verge of something new. Something that would set us apart from other cities/regions in the country and maybe even put us on a par with cities around the world known for their all-embracing approach to cycling.
And then came the announcement about where the funding would be channelled. Chorlton. The lion's share of the initial £30m investment will go to benefit the South Manchester suburb. Chorlton is just 4 miles from the city centre. Described as leafy (a relative term) it certainly has a real attraction for a certain demographic a demographic which is densely mobile, active, environmental, professional, middle class....you get the picture. Easy pickings for cycle investment? Undoubtedly.
On a dry Saturday in Chorlton you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Amsterdam as bike after bike passes by, and bike parking is full. Many, many people already cycle in, out and around to visit thriving independent shops, cafes, bars and craft market stalls. Chorlton needs more cycling parking but beyond that the existing cycling provision is just fine. It works. It isn't inspirational. It isn't architecturally amazing. It would be lovely if it was but it doesn't need to be. It already allows many people to cycle. There is already an effective critical mass in Chorlton. So is this level of investment really needed to grow the critical mass? I would argue it would be a 'nice to have' if there is money left. But that other areas could and should be allowed to benefit first.
So now we sit and wait with bated breath for following announcements. This is a golden opportunity to really engage with those individuals who are hesitant to cycle in the city, or who are yet to embrace the joys of this wonderful activity. I for one, do not want to see it squandered.