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Boardman calls on GMCA to give £1.5bn to cycling and walking

Chris Boardman, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) cycling and walking commissioner, has called for a 10-year £1.8bn infrastructure fund to be created for the region.

The former gold medal winning cyclist presented his ‘Made to Move’ report to authority leaders last week in a bid to improve air quality and tackle congestion and public health.

The proposals would deal with the next 10 years in Greater Manchester, but also look to build to 2050.

They include a 15-point plan which outlines the new fund and proposes to publish a detailed 2018 Greater Manchester-wide walking and cycling infrastructure plan – as set out in the Greater Manchester Strategy.

Describing the proposals, Boardman commented: “There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly ambitious but wholly deliverable plan to get Greater Manchester moving by bike and walking.

“The mayor of Greater Manchester tasked me with thinking creatively, challenging assumptions and pushing the boundaries of what should be possible. My proposals, the product of many months of work, will ease congestion on our overcrowded roads, improve our general health and wellbeing and help us breathe cleaner air in a greener city-region.

“It will require significant support but the decades of improved living that we, our children and grandchildren will be able enjoy will make it worthwhile.”

GMCA mayor Andy Burnham, recently announced a major overhaul of public transport, with the creation of a Strategic Transport Board which will monitor projects to ensure decision-making is joined-up.

Responding to Boardman’s new plan, Burnham stated: “When I appointed Chris, I asked him to produce a bold and challenging plan to get people cycling and walking. This report more than meets the test set, and together with Greater Manchester’s 10 council leaders, we are ready to rise to the challenge. It is now urgent, with Greater Manchester being asked to produce plans to tackle illegal air pollution.

“Chris has identified the need for substantial investment in our cycling infrastructure and in response, we are aiming to create a challenge fund of around £50m a year from 2019 to 2021, which will be able to be accessed by our 10 districts if they are building to the required standard and meeting part of the costs.

“This will go a considerable way towards meeting the required funding challenge and we will provide initial funding next year to get things going. Investing in cycling and walking will not only improve the air that we breathe, it will help tackle our crippling congestion problem and improve our health, wellbeing and environment.”

Air quality is now recognised as one of the most important challenges facing the region, with air pollution, caused mainly by road traffic, linked to up to 2,000 premature deaths each year.

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