With the death of Cycling England, the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund has become the main source of funding for any cycling projects that local authorities want to carry out in England. Applications are now being made to the £560m fund and Greater Manchester has become the latest metropolitan authority to unveil its plans.
Under the title of the Greater Manchester Commuter Cycle Project, Greater Manchester aims to increase present levels of cycle commuting into the city and in local regional towns that make up the Greater Manchester conurbation.
At the core of the project, being put forward by the 10 councils that are part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, will be seven bike centres or cycling hubs. The centres will in total house 650 covered cycle parking spaces across different venues in the region. The bike centres will also have lockers, toilets and showers.
Greater Manchester is also planning 450 cycle parking spaces, again in secure compounds, though they won’t have shower or changing facilities. Lockers however will be provided to store clothing. These compounds will be targeted at shorter-distance commuter cyclists.
Both facilities will be operated on a paid membership basis and access to them will be via a swipe card entry system. Corporate membership will also be available with local businesses being able to purchase a number of spaces for their employees.
The bike centres will be built through a combination of newly built bespoke cycle centres, re-fits of an existing retail/commercial units or by making an employer’s existing, in-house facility available to a wider audience.
A third pillar for which the Combined Authority will direct funds into will be investment into a range of cycling information, training and promotional support to encourage more people to cycle to work.
The Greater Manchester Commuter Cycle Project is part of a greater £45m Greater Manchester Combined Authority bid for money from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
Local contributions from public, private and voluntary sectors will also be sought to fund the cycle project alongside the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. If all goes to plan and funding is received from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund work on the bike centres could begin in 2013/14.
The Combined Authority hopes the cycling project will double the commuter mode share for cycling into Manchester itself and a 50% increase in other conurbation towns. This will deliver over 7,000 additional commuter cycle trips per day into the region.
Current cycle to work data suggests that about 2% of employees across Greater Manchester cycle to work in comparison to a national average of 3%.