Greater Manchester’s Bee Network of walking and cycling routes is transforming the borough’s sustainable transport scene.
In 2019, we were the first area within GM to complete one of the schemes at the Bridgewater Canal in Astley, formerly known as the ‘Muddy Mile’.
More routes are coming soon and here, with an exclusive column for Borough Life Plus, former Olympic cyclist and GM transport commissioner Chris Boardman tells us everything we need to know.
In 2018, I launched the Bee Network. A plan to completely revolutionise travel across Greater Manchester, to make active travel the number one choice for travelling to work, to school and to the shops.
We have a 10-year plan to create over 1,800 miles of safe routes, including 2,400 new crossings to connect every neighbourhood, community, school, high street and transport hub across the entire city-region. To date, we’ve got 108 schemes from the 10 GM Local Authorities in the development pipeline as part of the Mayor’s Challenge Fund, a total investment of more than £500 million.
We’re also well into the delivery phase, with 55 miles of safe routes and 17 Active Neighbourhoods planned to be constructed before the end of this year, including some schemes in Wigan, Leigh and Astley. By giving more people the choice to walk or ride to the shops/school for those shorter local journeys, we hope to change travel habits for good, improving our health, cleaning up the air we breathe and making us fitter and happier.
Our roads were originally designed to be places where people lived, played, grew up and grew old, but in the last decade alone before the pandemic we saw road traffic increase by 30%, most of that on local "residential" roads.
However, when we went into the first lockdown in March last year, and traffic was effectively turned off, we returned that space to people... well people went out and walked, and cycled, and listened to the bird song. Across the UK we saw more than a 300% increase in people riding bikes. Since then, half of people living in Greater Manchester have said they plan to travel more on foot or by bike post-COVID after their positive experiences during lockdown.
We know there is an appetite to keep active travel as part of their daily habit, and we intend to make sure they have the safe space to do it through delivery of the Bee Network.
We have a fantastic website, activetravel.tfgm.com (external link) with an interactive map, which shows people the new street improvements and routes that are completed, under construction or out for consultation. It also highlights the destinations that are within a 15-minute walk and a 15-minute bike ride of their front door. So, make sure you visit TfGM’s one-stop-shop for all things walking and cycling. Let’s enjoy the journey.