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Why Manchester should be the first European capital of cycling

Manchester, a city with deep-seated industrial roots, is now setting its sights on a greener and more sustainable future.

We are now staking a claim to become the first European Capital of Cycling.

With a recent announcement regarding the reopening of the British Cycling Velodrome, substantial investments in cycling infrastructure, and the honour of hosting the 2023 Tour of Britain, Manchester is making a compelling case for this prestigious title.

Manchester’s Cycling Revival

Photo: Karen Wright Photography

After a two-year hiatus for a £27 million restoration project, the British Cycling Velodrome in Manchester is set to reopen its doors.

This iconic venue not only serves as a testament to the city’s commitment to cycling but also offers state-of-the-art facilities for both professional cyclists and the community.

The Bee Network: A Pedestrian and Cyclist Paradise

One of the cornerstones of Manchester’s cycling resurgence is the Bee Network, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at creating over 1,800 miles of integrated cycleways and walking paths.

This extensive network, already boasting more than 13 km of completed routes, is set to transform Manchester into a cyclist’s paradise.

And there’s clearly a local desire for the city to become more bike friendly, with a huge number of young people attending the Kidical Mass events put on by campaigners. 

They want our city streets to become some of the most bike friendly in the world.

Manchester’s Ambitious Bid for 2024 European Capital of Cycling

Manchester’s aspirations to become the European Capital of Cycling in 2024 have taken a significant step forward as the city formally submitted its bid.

This bid represents a watershed moment, a chance for Manchester to spearhead a lasting change in its communities through cycling.

In September, Manchester will welcome a delegation from ACES Europe, tasked with deciding the winning bid for the European Capital of Cycling.

This visit presents a unique opportunity for the city to showcase its dedication to cycling and the potential impact it can have on urban mobility and sustainability.

Manchester’s Grand Départ: A Cycling Spectacle at the 2023 Tour of Britain

Olav Kooij of Team Jumbo Visma Celebrating his victory in Stage 1 of the 2023 Tour of Britain in Manchester with teammate Wout van Aert of Team Jumbo Visma

Greater Manchester had the honour of hosting the Grand Départ of the 2023 Tour of Britain, marking the first time in nearly two decades.

Over 100 of the world’s elite cyclists embarked on a 163 km route through the city, showcasing Manchester’s vibrant cycling culture.

The opening stage of the Tour of Britain saw a thrilling sprint finish on Deansgate in Manchester, with Olav Kooij from Jumbo – Visma clinching victory.

The event drew an estimated 500,000 spectators, highlighting the city’s growing enthusiasm for cycling.

The Vision for Manchester: A European Capital of Cycling

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, expressed her pride in Manchester’s bid to become the European Capital of Cycling.

She emphasised that cycling lies at the heart of the city’s transport strategy for the next five years, and the accolade would provide the impetus needed to transform Manchester into a truly great cycling city.

Richard Nickson, Active Travel Programme Director at TfGM, highlighted Manchester’s commitment to making cycling safe and accessible for everyone in Greater Manchester.

“The Bee Network, a massive cycling and walking network, is set to be the longest of its kind, connecting every neighbourhood in the region.

“Additionally, initiatives such as bike libraries and cycling training courses are already encouraging more people to embrace cycling.”

A Cycling Renaissance?

Manchester’s bid for the European Capital of Cycling is a testament to its dedication to sustainable urban mobility and environmental consciousness.

The reopening of the British Cycling Velodrome, the extensive Bee Network, and the successful hosting of the Tour of Britain are clear indicators of the city’s commitment to cycling.

As Manchester continues to pedal towards a greener future, it stands as a prime candidate for the coveted title of the first European Capital of Cycling, with the potential to inspire other cities across the continent to follow suit in their pursuit of a more sustainable, healthier, and cycling-friendly urban environment.

It’s time to dust off your bike and get out on the roads! 

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