Remember the time you first managed to ride a bicycle? I’m almost certain the majority of the population will remember that magical moment. A true achievement: an important skill for life learned. Now here’s another question. When was the last time you actually used this ‘skill for life’ for any practical purpose?  


In a world with a worsening climate outlook and in a country with a demand for more fitness activities: cycling should be bigger than ever, but there are too many dormant cycle lanes, sometimes even with several cars – the bicycle’s eternal enemy – lazily and defiantly parked on them. This has been an especially large problem in Greater Manchester, one of the most car-dependent regions of the UK and Trafford has largely suffered from this - in the 2021 Census, only 19.3% of households claimed to not own a car. 


However, in the past few months, Trafford Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have introduced several new initiatives to get people pedalling. One of these is the news of rental bicycles coming to Trafford, partially funded by the sponsorship of Starling Bank (hence the name Starling Bank Bikes) and run by the service Beryl. These are gradually being rolled out now across Trafford as well as Salford after having been introduced in the centre of Manchester in 2021. These bikes work by paying a standard rate of 50p to unlock a bike from a docking station on top of a 5p per minute rate, these charges being doubled for the e-bikes that are offered. The updated and expanded scheme has backing from Mayor of Greater Manchester and has previously been used by 72,000 active users. Although, some of the docking points are still suspended after a spate of petty theft and vandalism. 


Other recent projects to encourage active travel as of late have included the installation of new cycle lanes, the new school streets designed to help the increase of biking to school, and even recently turning the entirety of Stretford into one big game, called Beat the Street which involves walking or of course cycling between ‘beat boxes’ half a mile apart. It’s not yet obvious how much impact this has had, but Labour has recently claimed that physical activity in Trafford with 68% of people completing the recommended 150+ minutes of exercise per week.  


However, the Trafford Conservatives have been sceptical of Labour’s policies saying Labour’s policies haven’t done enough to address the poor quality of roads in Trafford, with leader Nathan Evans saying in his budget response: “who in their right mind would choose to cycle here?” They have also criticised Labour for going ahead with the controversial coning off of the A56 which 62% of residents voted down. 


Trafford Council claim to be committed to repairing roads in the latest budget, but with added Conservative pressure and the need for clean transport only increasing, regardless of whether Labour are on the right track or not, there is work still to be done.