Let’s not re­peat the same cy­cle

Macclesfield Express - - YOUR PICTURES - SARAH ROE

IF your child were grow­ing up in Copen­hagen, Am­s­ter­dam or Utrecht, the chances are they would cy­cle to school.

A main road like the A6 run­ning close to their house or school would prob­a­bly have a sep­a­rate cy­cle lane wide enough for a whole fam­ily to go on their bikes to­gether, away from traf­fic, and there would be lots of quiet, low-speed link­ing routes with space for every­one to cy­cle along­side other ve­hi­cles.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that Copen­hagen has one of Europe’s top air qual­ity rat­ings and low lev­els of child­hood obe­sity.

In Greater Manch­ester it’s a dif­fer­ent story. Although most pri­mary age chil­dren live an av­er­age of 1.6 miles away from their school only around 2 per cent cy­cle. The main rea­son is that par­ents are un­der­stand­ably wor­ried about fast roads with lit­tle or no cy­cle routes.

You are priv­i­leged if you live near a traf­fic-free path like the Fal­low­field Loop or the Trans Pen­nine Trail, and most cy­cle lanes on roads are painted stripes.

Peo­ple of­ten feel there is lit­tle choice but to take the car to school or work.

There are some ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ments for cy­cling lo­cally, such as a ‘Dutch­style’ sep­a­rate cy­cle lane down Ox­ford Road, but fund­ing for these high pro­file projects is set to dry up soon.

With­out the link­ing routes from res­i­den­tial ar­eas or schools to these main cy­cle cor­ri­dors, most peo­ple, in­clud­ing young fam­i­lies, are un­likely to con­sider cy­cling as a safe and sen­si­ble travel op­tion.

Last week the sus­tain­able trans­port char­ity Sus­trans sub­mit­ted its re­sponse to the govern­ment’s con­sul­ta­tion for the Cy­cling and Walk­ing In­vest­ment Strat­egy.

Cy­cle groups were un­der­stand­ably ex­cited about the Strat­egy when the govern­ment first an­nounced it in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

It promised a long-term le­gal com­mit­ment to fund other types of trans­port apart from cars, help­ing to give more peo­ple a healthy choice of travel and to make our cities cleaner.

At the same time there was heady talk that min­is­ters aimed to dou­ble cy­cling lev­els in the next 10 years.

Sadly, cam­paign­ers have been dis­ap­pointed.

Although cen­tral govern­ment an­nounced a £15bn road build­ing strat­egy in the Novem­ber Spend­ing Re­view, cy­cling and walk­ing will re­ceive only £316m, which equates to just £1.35 per head, far short of the £17 per head which Sus­trans cal­cu­lated is needed to reach 2025 govern­ment tar­gets for cy­cling, or around £20 per head for cy­cling cities like Copen­hagen.

MPs around the coun­try, in­clud­ing six in Greater Manch­ester, signed a let­ter to Sec­re­tary of State Patrick McLough­lin to ask for more in­vest­ment in cy­cling and walk­ing routes and net­works.

His­tory tells us that build­ing more roads only encourages more peo­ple to drive, so why not di­vert some of that money for cy­cle paths and cre­ate a health­ier, cleaner city where peo­ple want to live?

Sus­trans is a na­tional char­ity which helps more peo­ple cy­cle, walk or use pub­lic trans­port for their ev­ery­day jour­neys. Find out more at www.sus­trans.org.uk

Livia Lazar

●» Chil­dren can be en­cour­aged to ride into school if they are given safe routes to fol­low

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