Mayoral hopeful Andy Burnham makes Manchester cycling pledge

Jon Snow meets Andy Burnham MP to grill him on his commitment to cycling ahead of the Manchester Mayoral elections
Labour candidate makes funding commitment to Cycling UK President Jon Snow

Andy Burnham MP pledged to build a major new cycling network if he is elected the first-ever Mayor of Greater Manchester, in an interview with Cycling UK President and Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow.

Mr Burnham, Labour’s candidate in the Metro Mayoral elections on 4 May, envisages a dedicated cycling budget for the city, new infrastructure, a bike share scheme and the ultimate goal of reaching London’s funding figure of £17 per head for cycling. This compares with current Government spending on both cycling and walking of £2.07 per person in England outside the capital, a figure which is set to drop to 72p in 2020/21.

In his role as President of Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, Jon Snow will be interviewing a series of major political figures ahead of the Metro Mayoral and local authority elections running on 4 May in England, Scotland and Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, which take place on 2 March.

Mr Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh, was the first Metro Mayoral candidate to be grilled by the Channel 4 news presenter as part of Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaign agenda – and promised he would draw up a clear plan for cycling in his first 100 days if elected Mayor of Greater Manchester. It forms part of Cycling UK's collaborative work with local and national cycling and walking groups ahead of the local elections this May around Britain.

Meeting in Condor Cycles’ central London shop, Jon Snow opened the interview expressing concern that “Britain is stuck in an obesity epidemic. Our towns and cities remain congested with traffic, and air pollution levels are spiralling out of control”.

Looking to the local elections across the UK, Snow pointed to local decision makers as having “the opportunity to right these wrongs”.

The wide-ranging discussion gave Mr Burnham the opportunity to highlight his commitment to active travel, stating: “I'm a big believer in physical activity...not just the physical health benefits but the mental health benefits. If you look at Greater Manchester, too many people are trapped in their cars. We need to make our city more liveable.”

The Manchester Velodrome has become famous for developing a host of GB cycling champions, but Mr Burnham wants to see more people cycling on the city’s streets and intends working with the cycling community “to make a real big change”.

He said: “We have been the medals factory that has kick-started so much Olympic success, but if you go out on to the roads of Greater Manchester you see very few people cycling. So we have got an opportunity here to put that right, to learn from where London got things right, where they got it wrong, and come back with a really strong plan to boost cycling across the city region.”

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has committed £17 per head investment in cycling every year.

Mr Burnham said: “My commitment at the moment – I don’t think I can get to Sadiq’s level straight away – is to create a dedicated cycling budget within the budget for transport for Greater Manchester, and to build it up over time towards that London figure.

“One of the commitments that’s been made post-Rio is that we want to see that Velodrome success taken out to the streets, and I think that is very much the role of Cycling UK – to get that enthusiasm into the wider population.”

In reaction to Mr Burnham’s comments, Cycling UK’s Chief Executive, Paul Tuohy, said: “Mr Burnham has really thrown down the cycling gauntlet to his fellow candidates with his commitment to create a dedicated cycling budget and pledge to build a major new cycling network. 

“At the moment, we’re seeing London, Edinburgh and Cardiff all making real efforts to promote cycling. Manchester is the next proving ground for cities that are fit for cycling in England. Cycling UK will be encouraging all candidates to commit to Space for Cycling during the course of this election.” 

Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaign seeks leadership from politicians and other key decision makers to create a network of safe and well-designed cycle tracks and streets to help people make positive choices towards walking and cycling as a simple transport choice.

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.
  2. The video of the interview between Jon Snow and Andy Burnham MP is available on the Cycling UK YouTube channel:
  3. Cycling UK is conducting further interviews with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Greater Manchester Metro Mayoral candidates, Sean Anstee and Jane Brophy respectively which will be published in due course. 
  4. For further information on Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaign see: 
  5. During the Metro Mayoral and other local elections in 2017, Cycling UK is working with the Bicycle Association, British Cycling, Living Streets and Sustrans as well as local campaign groups from the Cyclenation federation, such as the Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign.

Press contact information

Cycling UK Press Office
Telephone: 0844-736-8453