Greater Manchester have just announced plans for a massive overhaul of the city's cycling network to make it comparable with some Scandinavian cities. It's a great bit of news, spearheaded by the outspoken Olympian Chris Boardman. As is pointed out in this article in the Guardian, and countless other studies, papers, websites and think tanks, it's a no-brainer: too much priority has been given to cars and not enough to pedestrians or cyclists. Ofo Bikes landed in Sheffield city centre in January this year and have been hugely popular. Ride data has shown that when the weather turns bad Sheffield residents continue to use the bikes unlike most other cities, but that there is also a higher degree of vandalism than elsewhere. You only need to head out into the Peak District on a weekday evening to witness the sheer numbers of people taking to their bikes. But those riders are doing so at not inconsiderable risk to themselves. I make the ride into Sheffield from Grindleford a couple of times a month for meetings in town, and very rarely do I finish the 40 minute journey without at least one vehicle having buzzed too close to me, often at speed. And once in the city, attempting to follow any of the signposted bike routes is beyond laughable. It feels as though the task of implementing the cycle routes was given to a local primary school!
Wouldn't it be great if The Outdoor City, with our new charismatic mayor Magid Magid, took on Manchester's plans as a challenge to overhaul our own routes and make it a safer, greener, healthier place to live. We need the Steve Peats and Downing Brothers' of the city to stand up and fight for it.