VÉLOCITY 2025 gives green light for cycling

This month’s funding success offers Greater Manchester the green light for cycling…

The journey to Vélocity 2025 began earlier this year when the DfT announced the Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG) scheme on the 30th of January, with three cities set to share £30m. In mid-February guidance was issued highlighting the level of ambition required with reassuring phrases such asinclusive, high quality design“, “transformational change”, “only … for capital (works)”, “long term ambition” and “segregated infrastructure”. The document also set out the timescales – bids needed to be submitted by May 1st, and the money had to be spent by April 2015.

GMCC offered input to our bid, and all parties were in agreement that a smaller number of better quality schemes would be most beneficial. The funds were aimed at zones of up to 1m people so a target area was chosen, deliberately covering places with existing usage and potential. The tight spending timescale reduced the opportunity to include bold on-carriageway schemes where a motor-vehicle lane is reallocated to provide high quality protected cycling infrastructure, but this concept was included “where possible”. A series of ‘quick win’ schemes were discussed, many of them using canal towpaths to avoid the lengthy processes required for road schemes. TfGM and council officers proposed seven ‘spokes’ routes, along with some cycle parking facilities at stations and colleges, The bid document was compiled by Creative Concern and supported by local cycling organisations, including GMCC who stated:

“We welcome the proposals in TfGM’s Vélocity 2025 plan, especially the connected network of high quality traffic-free greenways and protected on-carriageway facilities. We agree this is the most required change to encourage more people to choose to cycle for their everyday journeys. Such a network would also allow existing cyclists to travel more comfortably and effectively, particularly during the peak hours.

“The pledge to fund a further 10 years of this transformational programme is also welcomed. We believe such a level of commitment is required to fully unlock the potential that exists in our region.”

In May a scheduled press conference was delayed but rumours that the GM bid would have been awarded £15m seemed reliable, so we waited for the official announcement, confident but uncertain. This delay has affected many smaller locally-funded schemes, as they were due to be upgraded if the bid was successful.

A drawn-out 11 weeks later the rumour mill started up again, and this time there was talk of GM receiving the full £20m applied for, meaning all of the locally pledged £11.1m would be available too.

TfGM confirmed the news with its sportily titled “Yellow Jersey for Greater Manchester“ press release (when will mainstream cycling be promoted as a form of transport?) which highlighted the four projects and long term commitment:

• A major new network of strategic, integrated and – where possible – segregated cycle routes to employment centres, schools and leisure facilities. [£17m Government funding]

• Locally funded work to ‘mainstream’ cycling – promoting it to young and old to create a cultural shift in attitudes. [£11.1m local funding]

• ‘Cycle and Ride’ stations will be developed for Gatley, Irlam, Flixton and Guide Bridge railway stations and at Prestwich, Hollinwood and East Didsbury Metrolink stops. [£2m Government funding]

• Work with a number of partner schools and colleges to improve cycle facilities so as to encourage cycling as a travel option for younger people. [£1m Government funding]

Beyond this two-year grant, TfGM and the district councils are committed to continue to deliver the Vélocity 2025 strategy by rolling out further major investment in cycling across Greater Manchester over the following 10 years.

The original Vélocity 2025 bid document set out proposals for the first seven ‘spokes’ routes [pdf p21], these being:

• Prestwich ‘City View’ Cycleway will link Manchester City Centre from Prestwich and HeatonPark through Crumpsall and IrkValley. A link to Alan Turing Way will feed into a traffic free orbital cycle route.

• Ashton Canal Cycleway will be an off-highway route from Ashton to Manchester City Centre with links into Ashton town centre, GuideBridge railway station and the National Cycling Centre.

• Mersey Valley & Stockport Cycleway will see a fully segregated cycle track linking Cheadle to the Corridor Super Cycleway and into Stockport Town Centre.

• Corridor SuperCycleway will be an improved on-highway, and largely segregated, cycle route from Wilmslow Road to East Didsbury with further links to the Trans Pennine Trail and MerseyValley cycle paths.

• Airport City Enterprise Cycleway will be a new series of improved cycle links at ManchesterAirport, adjacent to residential areas with links to WythenshaweHospital and the town centre.

• Bridgewater Cycleway will complete the final 4km of cycle route from Bridgewater Canal Towpath into Manchester City Centre. A link to Salford Quays will also be provided.

• MediaCity and Quays Cycleway will expand cycle routes to better link the Lower Broughton area via SalfordUniversity to MediaCityUK and Salford Quays.

GMCC will be asking local cyclists to join with others and “adopt a spoke” to help GMCC campaign by providing us with input and up to date local information as these spokes routes are being developed. We’ll make a more detailed announcement about this shortly, meanwhile please email contact@gmcc.org.uk if you’d like to get involved.

GMCC has also announced a special offer for new members to celebrate Vélocity 2025 – Get your #FirstYearFree if you join GMCC now!

This funding success is warmly welcomed, but there’s still a lot for GMCC to do to ensure the best value and quality for cyclists is achieved from the £31.1m. Since only 1m GM residents will benefit directly we’ll need to campaign to encourage as much as possible to be done for GM’s 1.6m other residents, and we’ll need to ensure that the pledges to continue to fund Vélocity 2025, and increase the scheme’s scope to include all of GM, will be honoured in 2015. Also, we’re well aware that the scheme does not address wider issues like Metrolink cycle carriage and parking facilities at other stations; planning regulations for cycle parking at residential and commercial buildings; and the biggest concern for most ‘would be’ cyclists – road safety issues caused by poor maintenance, legislation, enforcement and justice.

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