Beelines – Chris Boardman’s plan to deliver a walking and cycling network for Greater Manchester

Following on from the publication of the Made to Move report in December 2017 by Greater Manchester’s walking and cycling commissioner, Chris Boardman. Today (27 June 2017) saw the launch of Chris Boardman’s plan for a 1,000 mile walking and cycling network with an initial 75 miles of fully protected on-road cycle lanes.

Here’s the official announcement from TfGM and the proposals can be downloaded as a PDF. If you don’t want to download the report, you can view it below. There’s also the following video introduction featuring Chris Boardman.

The network of walking and cycling routes will be known as Beelines. Now, for people in Manchester of a certain age, this will bring back memories of the Bee Line Buzz Company. Well, it does for me anyway.

The original bee line, The Bee Line Buzz Company

But as far as names go, I actually quite like Beelines. It’s a friendly name with positive connotations and has the worker bee connection to Manchester. It’s far better than some of TfGM’s recent attempts, such as the awful ‘Get Me There’ name for Manchester’s Oyster card equivalent.

So what actually are Beelines? According to the proposal they are “routes that get people from A to B, connecting up communities across the whole of Greater Manchester. They can be a fully segregated route or a network connected via a series of crossing points on quieter roads.”

The proposed network can be viewed in detail at the Beelines map at MappingGM. The map has been put together following a number of walking and cycling network planning sessions held with each of the Greater Manchester boroughs.

Nick at Banging on about bikes has covered the Bury, Rochdale and Salford meetings pretty thoroughly on his blog and the process used. This involved identifying points of severance, such as busy roads or dangerous junctions and ways of addressing those points of severance.

This is a bold and ambitious plan, and today is very much the start. I can imagine there’s going to be many difficult days, mainly due to the reliance on the Greater Manchester councils to actually deliver the plan. No doubt we’ll see some being keener than others, like what we’ve seen in London with Westminster Council. I’m already disappointed there’s no filtered neighbourhood in Trafford, surely Stretford is crying out for this?

While I’m sure there will be people critical of these plans, particularly when we get into detail (the city centre still looks pretty lacking when it comes to decent routes, Deansgate?). I’m keen that as long as the quality is there (decent segregated cycleways and filtered quite routes without through traffic), we take a leaf out of Seville’s book and get building.

We might not get everything right first time, but if we can deliver something close to a usable network of safe routes, then we will have come a long way.

I think Andy Burnham and Chris Boardman should be applauded for having the vision and commitment to come this far. I sincerely hope they get the support they need to deliver this plan and we see a true walking and cycling revolution in Greater Manchester.

Now, let’s get on and build it!

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