The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has this evening announced that Chris Boardman will be the city's cycling and walking commissioner, a newly created role. Boardman, a gold-medal-winning Olympic cyclist and now a TV cycling pundit, is British Cycling's policy advisor.
In a statement released today, Boardman commented: “My first priority will be to pull together all the people who need to be involved in making cycling and walking viable, attractive and important part of the transport network in Greater Manchester.
“Cycling isn’t currently a big part of how people get around in the region but surveys have showed there is real desire to ride more, if we create an attractive, safe environment. There’s a passion from all branches of local government and health to make it happen too but we’re not going to enforce change – we will take people along with us.
“With my background in sport, I’m a big fan of setting targets, being measured and being held accountable for results. I’m going to spend several weeks talking to people to understand the landscape for cycling in Greater Manchester before setting a number of goals we want to achieve and timescales – and you can rest assured that they’ll be ambitious.”
Many cycle advocates have called for Boardman to be made the government's "cycling Czar", a role that Boardman is believed to have only countenanced if the powers of the role were sweeping. (Nationally, they never are.)
At the mayor's questiontime Burnham said: “This is a real coup for Greater Manchester. [Boardman] is coming in to make a serious difference and I want him to make a serious difference.
“We’re renowned as ‘the medals factory’ for cycling and have a great record for elite cycling, but if we’re honest we’re not so great at helping everybody in the population get onto their bikes. Chris will be doing that alongside promoting walking and better facilities for pedestrians, so a big step forward and a big name to help us take that step forward.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Gilligan, London's former cycling Csar, has said: "Delighted to confirm I'm doing report for National Infrastructure Commission on how to boost cycling in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes."