Chris Boardman takes role as Manchester’s walking and cycling commissioner

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Chris Boardman has today been announced as Manchester’s walking and cycling commissioner.

To be announced by mayor Andy Burnham at an event later this afternoon the role is a newly created one that will mirror the role in the UK capital held by Will Norman.

The announcement comes as the Mayor of Greater Manchester received and endorsed the four-year plan to get ‘Greater Manchester Moving’. Burnham has committed his leadership to the ambitious plan, as part of a collaborative approach with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Sport England.

The Cycling and Walking Commissioner will act as the leading advocate for cycling and walking in Greater Manchester, working with the Mayor and Transport for Greater Manchester to secure the necessary resources to develop and deliver cycling-related activity and programmes. As well as having senior oversight of the development of policy and investment plans for cycling.

He will work across Greater Manchester’s public, private and voluntary institutions to improve safety and conditions for cycling. He will also publicly represent cycling, walking and increasing activity levels in Greater Manchester to raise their profile and promote and enable equality of opportunities across communities.

The appointment of the Cycling and Walking Commissioner role will be announced at the launch event of the Greater Manchester Moving plan, held today in Exchange Street from 1pm to 4pm.

Chris will play a key role in achieving the ambitions set out in the Greater Manchester Moving initiative. He said: “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.

“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. There’s a passion from all branches of local government and health to make it happen too but we’re not going to enforce change – we will take people along with us.

“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 – and you can rest assured that they’ll be ambitious.”

Greater Manchester Moving is setting a new mission for everyone in Greater Manchester to become more active, securing the fastest and greatest improvement to the health, wealth and wellbeing of the 2.8 million residents in the city region.

This will be backed up by a new and stretching target, running over the next four years. The aim is to double the rate of past improvements and achieve the goal of having 75 per cent of people living in Greater Manchester active or fairly active by 2025.

38 per cent of people living in the city region are not active enough to benefit their health. The cost of this inactivity to health services in Greater Manchester is estimated to be £26 million per year.

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. Having taken that step, people are then more likely to make other changes – be that in smoking, drinking or diet.

“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.

“I want Greater Manchester to be the sport and physical activity capital of the world.”

Greater Manchester Moving is also asking employers to support their workforce to be more active in and around the working day by encouraging walking or cycling to work.

Lord Peter Smith, Chair of Strategic Partnership Board, portfolio lead for Health and Social Care and Leader of Wigan Council, said: “Greater Manchester is taking charge of an exciting opportunity, as well as a significant challenge to encourage our people and communities to be more active.

“We are determined to do this by helping people to take control of their own and their family’s health; connecting people to the opportunities created by economic growth and reform; tackling the root causes of poor health; focusing on improving the health of the most vulnerable; and providing excellent care for people when they need it.”

One of the key aims of the plan is to work with schools and colleges in supporting and integrating the recommended amount of physical activity per day into the curriculum, and embracing approaches such as the daily mile.

Sarah Price, Director of Population and Health and Commissioning at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, explained: “Being more active from as young as possible will help improve lives and it’s our ambition for Greater Manchester to be the best in England for children and young people from all backgrounds to grow up and have a more active lifestyle.”

Greater Manchester Moving is asking the whole of Greater Manchester to get involved in moving more each day and making their own #GMMoving pledge on social media.

Sport England’s Executive Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper, added: “Sport England’s job is to increase the amount of people across the country who are active so they can enjoy the benefits that it brings to their lives. Greater Manchester is set to benefit from lots of exciting new initiatives, from helping school children to ride a bike with confidence, making it easier for people to walk more and helping older people stay active.”

The Greater Manchester Moving launch is supported by GreaterSport, Transport for Greater Manchester and British Cycling. A range of activities will be available for the public to participate in, with coaching lessons for under-fives from Special Olympian Keira Byland.

You don’t need to be at the event to make the pledge – join key partners, including the Mayor, Lord Peter Smith and Councillor Jean Stretton in committing to your own #GMMoving pledge online.