30 April 2021 by Alan Manning
One of the very few positive developments during the pandemic has been that people have rediscovered how important walking is to our health and happiness. We have discovered local footpaths and green spaces and this has often provided a life line in these troubled times. However, this unprecedented use has placed strain on the footpath network with many local routes badly eroded and investment is urgently needed.
We also know that access to green space is unequal. In Greater Manchester a recent report showed that only 44% of people live near a park or green space. Many are also put off from visiting green spaces by heavy traffic, a lack of crossings and poor directions on routes. All these issues can be addressed.
We have made a great start in Greater Manchester as Chris Boardman and the Made to Move strategy begins to put in place the Bee Network, but we need to do much more. The ambition for the Bee Network is to create 1,800 miles of routes. We have already in Greater Manchester an extensive network of Rights of Ways and footpaths in all our urban and rural areas. We have almost 2,000 miles of additional routes, that give us an extremely valuable resource. The network should be the building block to an integrated transport network, providing links between public transport and services and providing a key component of the sustainable active travel infrastructure, as well as providing opportunities for recreation and leisure pursuits.
After decades of austerity, many local authorities have been unable to keep their path network up to standard, even before the impact of the pandemic. Indeed, many of them have been unable to even keep their plans up to date.
How you can help us
The Mayor is the lead for Transport and strategic planning in Greater Manchester, and has a significant role in the health and social care policies devolved to the City Region. We want to work with them to extend access to green space, to prioritise investment in high quality walking infrastructure and create new green routes all across Greater Manchester. This election gives us the opportunity to put these issues firmly on the next Mayor's political agenda.
Many of our members and supporters have already written to the main candidates seeking a commitment to the key points in our manifesto and working with other partners we put our questions at a recent successful hustings event.
You can help us by writing to the candidates today to show your support for more green walking routes across Greater Manchester.