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28/07/2017

Chris Boardman named Greater Manchester’s first cycling commissioner

Words: Simon Wicks
Chris Boardman and Andy Burnham

Chris Boardman has been named the first cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester.

The Olympic gold medallist and cycling advocate will work across the city region to improve safety and conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, promoting both as healthy alternatives to cars and public transport.

The appointment, made by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, has been announced ahead of the launch of the Greater Manchester Moving Plan later today. The four-year plan brings together Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Sport England to get Greater Manchester’s residents more active.

Currently 38 per cent of residents are not active enough to benefit their health, at an estimated cost of £26 million a year to health services. Greater Manchester Moving aims to get 75 per cent of people active or fairly active by 2025. One of the key aims of the plan is to work with schools and colleges to integrate the recommended amount of physical activity per day into the curriculum.

Boardman, who won Olympic gold in the individual pursuit in 1992, has become a respected campaigner for more and better cycling infrastructure. In his new role, he will have senior oversight of the development of policy and investment plans for cycling.

“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,” he said. “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.

Boardman – known for his methodical approach to performance – added: “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.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I am a big believer in physical activity because it has a positive impact on both physical and mental health. Going from inactivity to activity is often one of the easiest and most positive lifestyle changes people can make.

“We need to encourage the people in our city region to move more, to cycle and walk and maximise the contribution to being a healthy society.”

Boardman becomes the UK’s second cycling and walking commissioner, following the appointment of Will Norman in London in late 2016.

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