Manchester commuters learn to love bikes, not traffic jams

In a drive to get more Manchester commuters on their bikes, a campaign launched Tuesday promotes cycling as "better for your health, better for your wallet and better for getting you to work on time" across the city's billboards and back-of-bus ads.

The “Love Your Bike” campaign targets commuters stuck in traffic with the message that cycling cuts congestion, aiming to cut the number of cars at peak times, especially those with only a single occupant.

Sustainability, fighting air pollution and climate change are all implicit, but the campaign chooses to highlight the practical benefits of cycling with the feel-good message of “love every minute, love your body, love your city.”

“We are targeting an audience we would normally not reach out to. People who are aware of climate change issues are probably cycling to work already,” Graeme Sherriff of Manchester Friends of the Earth, the environmental group running the campaign together with Manchester City Council, told edie.

“Cycling to work isn’t just for die-heard environmentalists and seasoned cyclists – it is a low cost commuting option and an excellent opportunity for anyone to fit exercise into their daily life. Plus, as congestion isn’t a problem for cyclists, more often than not, cycling to work is quicker than driving,” he said.

Britons are driving short distances that they could easily cycle, FOE says: half of all car journeys are short enough to be cycled, and if they were car mileage would go down by a sixth.

Cycling has been falling since the 1970s, even though more people now own their own bikes, the Love Your Bike campaign website ( points out.

The campaign, which will see 20 billboards and 100 back-of-bus adverts strategically placed along key routes into the city centre, is part-funded through the Manchester City Council’s Local Strategic Partnership.

Manchester councillor Neil Swannick said: “Car ownership continues to grow nationally and within Greater Manchester and we recognise that steps need to be taken to tackle the volume of traffic on our roads.”

“By showing people that there is a convenient alternative to sitting in slow-moving traffic jam every morning, we hope to make them think about getting their bikes out – at least once in a while – if not daily.”

The campaign is also pushing for better facilities for cyclists in the workplace – including cycle parking and changing rooms – and is working closely with the Cooperative Bank on this.

Manchester’s cycle lanes and other provisions for cyclists could be described as “gradually improving”, said Graeme Sherriff. “They just haven’t been rolled out across the whole city yet.”

“We’ve been collecting stories people’s cycling experiences through the website. Once people start talking about this hopefully things will improve.”

“Friends of the Earth is a network of local groups, which learn from each others’ experience. I would hope other groups make use of the Local Strategic Partnerships to push for sustainable transport,” he said.

By Goska Romanowicz

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