Nearly one million residents of Greater Manchester have rejected by ballot a London-style congestion charge that could have lead to massive investment in cycling throughout the area. Only 21 percent voted in favour and 79 percent against.
Multi-million pound 'yes' and 'no' campaigns included wide-ranging arguments both for and against the introduction of a charging zone over 80 square miles of the greater urban area - around 10 times the area of the original London congestion charge.
Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, speaking exclusively to BikeRadar, highlighted how a 'Yes' result could have led to an application to the government's Transport Innovation Fund for the following (alongside huge public transport investment programmes such as tram line extensions):
- Over 2,500 cycle parking spaces at rail Metrolink and major employment areas, including secure parking.
- 125 miles of safer and more convenient cycle routes.
- A city cycle centre with staff that provides secure parking, showers and changing facilities, lockers, cycle repairs and information.
- Cycle training and advice on routes and cycle maintenance for the general public.
- A cycle hire scheme that includes 1,500 bikes available on street at modest charge – and free for the first half hour.
Daniel Cadden of GMCC said, "Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign is disappointed by the results of the public vote on the Greater Manchester Transport Innovation Fund proposal. GMCC supported the congestion charge primarily because of the modal shift it would have generated to more sustainable travel including cycling. GMCC will continue with its aim to get more people cycling more often more safely."
GMCC is affiliated to the Manchester organisation, Clean Air Now, set up to support a Manchester Transport Innovation Fund bid.
Friends of the Earth commented, "Greater Manchester has missed the opportunity to develop a clean, fast and efficient transport network. But Manchester's loss could be another's gain. Government cash is still up for grabs and local authorities across the country now have the chance to bid for their own low-carbon transport systems."
Long-time 'No' campaigner and MP for Blackley in Manchester, Graham Stringer, said, "It's a brave politician that goes forward with such a scheme, unless it is an extraordinarily good scheme that virtually everybody benefits from. It is a pity we have had to waste three years on this ill-thought out scheme which the public have seen through."