Developing and Delivering Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Programme to Support the Bee Network Vision: TRANSPORT Smart Class, North of England 2024 Retrospective


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The Bee Active Network, at 2734km, is the most ambitious active travel infrastructure programme in the UKSince 2020, great progress has been made on delivering this generational change in how communities and visitors move in and around Greater Manchester:

“Active Travel is at the heart of everything we do to support Greater Manchester’s Bee Network vision”, says TfGM’s Network Director for Active Travel & CNO, Dr Richard Nickson. Set out in our local strategies and transport plans, the Bee Network will bring together walking, wheeling, cycling and all public transport modes into a single joined-up transport offer”.

In an inspirational keynote at TRANSPORT Smart Class, North of England 2024, Richard outlined how Transport for Greater Manchester are combining best-in-UK-class infrastructure delivery with other interventions, spanning policy, activation, services, innovation, community empowerment and behaviour change, in a systems-led approach to achieve significant modal shift.

His presentation also explained how TfGM’s ‘movement for movement’ underpins their approach to healthy active lives.

Summary of Richard’s keynote highlights:

  • Introducing the Bee Network – A fully integrated transport network which: Brings together bus, tram and active travel by 2025 (with rail integration to follow); Delivers a transformation in the way people travel, with integrated fares, and customer information under a single, identifiable and accountable brand; Supports people and places to thrive, as well as the sustainable delivery of new homes and employment needed to accommodate GM’s continued growth;
  • Bee Network Customer Commitments – TfGM’s customer commitments are their promise to users of the Bee Network. They set out what customers can expect from the Bee Network and how to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement – including through Rate Your Journey and the new Bee Network Customer Contact Centre…
  • Safe – “We will create a safe and secure network”; Accessible – “Everyone can use us”; Reliable – “We will deliver a reliable network”; Affordable – “We will keep the cost of travel as low as possible”; Accountable – “We will use your feedback to shape the Bee Network”; Sustainable – “We will take the lead in creating a greener, healthier Greater Manchester;
  • The Active Travel Mission – ‘Made to Move – 15 steps to transform Greater Manchester by changing the way we get around’ (A report by GM’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner); ‘Refreshing Greater Manchester’s Active Travel Mission – Doing Transport Differently’ (Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner); Delivery of the Active Travel Mission is underpinned by a structured approach to delivery – the ‘pillars’ that encompass the entire suite of interventions and workstream actions necessary to bring about sustainable travel behaviours; Winter 2024 Action Plan and updated strategy – Streets that enable people to drive less + A future proofed street network + An attractive and inclusive walking environment + A safe and connected cycling experience + A reliable, integrated and accessible public transport network + Good delivered on time with minimal impacts on local communities = Green, vibrant streets that are welcoming and safe places to spend time in;

  • Active Travel – The Glue that Sticks the Bee Network Together: Almost all (96% of) public transport trips involve walking; ‘First mile’ is especially important (44% walk to train station, 53% to tram stop); Ambition to expand cycle hire – potential to support public transport patronage; Pilot of bikes on trams; Important to improve walking/wheeling access; Cycling over longer journeys = opportunity to support/monetise this as a mode in its own right through rental services avoiding need for ownership challenges;
  • Transforming Transport – A long-term mission, not a quick fix: Restated a long term commitment to active travel as part of Bee Network; Increased focus on walking & wheeling in next phases of investment; Managing conflicting pressures for road space with need for bus priority; Political cycles continue to give challenge to delivery and national landscape uncertain;
  • Our Bee Network Vision – An aspirational walking and cycling network for delivery by 2040: Map of future walking and cycling routes;
  • The Future Focus – Walking, wheeling…and…continued investment in segregated cycle routes: Accessible neighbourhoods (routes to schools, shops & amenities, barrier removal); Adding pedestrian facilities to junctions with none; Upgrading non-compliant junctions and crossings; Tackling thousands of ‘points of severance’; Improve walking – tacking pavement pinch points, adding dropped kerbs or tactiles at side roads; Deliver major segregated routes often alongside bus and other mass transit schemes on major radials/orbital routes;
  • Integrated Delivery – There remains a need for continued, dedicated funding for active travel at current levels for the foreseeable future, but TfGM will increasingly deliver at outcomes via public transport & placemaking schemes – Why? Moving from dedicated funding pots to a devolved single settlement; Whereas before, standalone active travel schemes; Now – multi-modal corridor schemes; Town & city centres, and wider placemaking now seen to include Active Travel; More than just transport infrastructure; Need to activate/motivate behaviour change;

  • Starling Bank Bike Hire – Over 750,000 total rides amounting to nearly 2,000,000 km total distance travelled; In 2024, 2.2 rides per E-Bike per Day/1.2 rides per Bike per Day; Average Ride Distance – 2.9km for E-bikes, 2.35km for Bikes; Average Ride Duration – 15.8 mins for E-Bikes, 13.9 mins for Bikes; Rides and active users per month Nov 2021-May 2024;
  • Complementary Measures Programme – Access: Cycle Training, Access to Bikes, Cycle Parking, Grants, Journey to School; Activation – Cycle & Stride, Scheme Activation, Campaigns & Comms;
  • Network Delivery Tracker Example: D1 – Length of Network delivered; D2 – % of Bee Active Network delivered to standard; D3 – Number of signalised junctions without signalised pedestrian crossing facilities; D4 – Pedestrian delay/service time at crossings;
  • Vision Zero – Almost 10,000 people have been killed or suffered life-changing injuries on Greater Manchester’s roads in the last 10 years; In 2022 alone, 852 killed or seriously injured with 64 of those being fatalities; The GM 2040 Transport Strategy – Reduce deaths and serious injuries to as close as possible by 2040; In the GM Mayor’s 2021 Manifesto there was a commitment to have a Road Danger Reduction Action Plan; Supported by the Active Travel Commissioner TfGM committed through the RDRAP to produce a Vision Zero Strategy and Vision Zero Action Plan; Zero is ambitious but it is the only goal TfGM can aspire to, helping with other aims and ensuring the building of a safe road transport system for all;
  • Vision Zero Progress – In January 2024 GMCA approved the draft Vision Zero Strategy and the process to get an approved Vision Zero Strategy and Action Plan; 12th Feb-10th March – Public engagement on the Vision Zero draft strategy, including online questionnaire with public and stakeholders; 16th May for 8 weeks – Public engagement on draft Action Plan, including online questionnaire and face to face engagement sessions; Approval at the November GMCA to coincide with Road Safety Week and World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims;

  • Bold Visions Becoming Reality Case Studies – Stockport Interchange, Chorlton local centre before/after, Brooks Bar before/after;
  • A Movement for Movement – GM Moving TfGM’s partnership for Active Lives: Funding through Sport England’s; Supported by local health board; Broad based ‘system’ change approach to both strategic leadership across diverse partners and also local empowerment and enablement through place centred Active Partnerships. TfGM is a board member and their active travel policies and plans directly support the local objective of making GM a great place to grow up, get on and lead a fulfilling life; Demonstrably effective in improving activity levels (although challenges remain); Why is it relevant to transport? Inactive people don’t walk, wheel or get the bus and we know that healthier, more active populations are more economically and socially successful; Addressing poor mental health and issues around obesity and cardiac health is vital.

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at The Stoller Hall, Manchester, for the live in-person event on June 6th, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Richard’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, programme managers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public transport operators; regional transport partnerships, sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; highways authorities and road operators; government and supporting national transport agencies; non-governmental organisations; fleet operators, parking operators, prime contractors etc.

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TRANSPORT Smart Class, North of England 2024

On June 6th we will be casting a spotlight over the North of England, hosting our speakers discussions on how the latest digital innovations, strategies and best practices can help overcome the transport and mobility challenges faced by city-regions of the Northern Powerhouse and beyond.


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