Andy Burnham flies a march on London with plans for the UK’s first carbon neutral transport network


ndy Burnham sought to steal a march on London on Monday by announcing plans for the “UK’s first carbon neutral transport network” in Manchester.

He also pledged to build “the UK’s largest walking and cycling network” – although his initial plans for 130 km (81 miles) of routes are only half of the 260 km (160 m) claimed by Sadiq Khan as having been built or in progress in the capital. .

The Labor mayor of Greater Manchester is also asking permission to conduct large-scale testing of the country’s first ‘side road zebras’ – from crosswalks on side roads, at the junction with main roads.

A test found that drivers were more likely to yield to pedestrians waiting to cross the road if a crosswalk had been painted on the surface – even if they came without zigzag markings and flashing Belisha beacons.

Mr Burnham and his transport commissioner Chris Boardman, a former Olympic champion and Tour de France cyclist, believe that making walking more attractive will reduce the number of short trips by car.

Mr Burnham, who returns to the COP26 conference in Glasgow this week, believes he can cut emissions by increasing bus travel by 30% by matching low London fares and encouraging more people to walk and do biking.

His plan, presented on Monday, is for Greater Manchester’s Bee Network to integrate buses, trams, walking and cycling by 2024, and rail by 2030.

Overall, Manchester aims to be carbon neutral by 2038 – eight years later than London – but 12 years earlier than Boris Johnson’s 2050 target for the UK.

Sources have confirmed that its long-term goal is to create the UK’s largest cycle network – 1,800 miles of track and 2,400 new crossings, as outlined in its Bee Network master plan.

Mr Burnham, who was re-elected for a second term in May, wants the region’s bus fleet to be 50% electric by 2027 and 100% electric within a decade.

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan is seeking government support to electrify the capital’s 9,000 buses by 2030. Currently, around 550 buses are electric. It is believed that Mr. Burnham’s plan also relies on significant government investment.

Manchester will also launch a bicycle rental program similar to London’s ‘Boris bikes’ on November 18 – albeit on a much smaller scale than the capital.

And in May of next year, the city will launch a Clean Air Zone. But unlike the very low emission zone of London, it will not include cars but will only target taxis, vans and trucks.

Mr Burnham said Manchester’s Metrolink tram system, the country’s largest, was already running entirely on renewable energy.

He said: “Today we go further and define a new ambition to be the first city-region in the UK to provide a carbon neutral transport network, including the full electrification of our buses in the UK. over the next decade.

“We have already started building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network, with £ 70million of active travel programs completed or under construction. This investment has enabled thousands of people to change their daily lives; residents who previously had not considered walking or horseback riding can now travel without a car for safe daily commutes.

“We are one step ahead of Metrolink, now we need to apply this goal of carbon neutrality to everything we do. “

Mr. Boardman said: “Today’s commitment to a carbon neutral transportation network is once again proof of our unwavering dedication to a 10-year mission of making the city-region one one of the best places in the world to travel by public transport, on foot and by bike. “

The duo tested the new Bee Network bikes – cycling from Fallowfield, through Chorlton and Hulme to Manchester city center on Monday morning.

From 18 November the bikes will also be available at Oxford Road in Manchester city center and at MediaCityUK. The full program, operated by bicycle company Beryl, is expected to launch next June.

It will have 1,500 bicycles, including 300 electric bicycles. By comparison, the Santander program in London has 14,000 bikes, including 500 e-Boris bikes that are expected to launch next summer.

Mr Khan announced last year that the number of “protected” cycle paths had increased from 50 km in 2016 to 162 km in February 2020, although this includes side streets and other partially separated lanes.

He recently suggested, in a written response, that TfL had lost track of the amount of protected cycling space, due to the widespread use of an additional 100 km of “pop up” lanes during the pandemic.

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