As mentioned in my previous post about Chimp Management I’d gone down to Manchester for the latest course which was held at the National Cycling Centre which also houses the velodrome and BMX track that were built for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Whenever I am in a new city I like to compare transport and travel facilities as both my partner and I get around town on bike and foot a lot and due to not having a car would use public transport links as an alternative.
I was impressed with Manchester’s extensive tram network having taking the tram back from Sport City to Manchester Piccadilly station. The tram ride seemed a bit pricey at £2.50 for a single journey. Edinburgh introduced a tram to the city roughly 2 years ago but it will require a network for it to really be successful. I also feel Edinburgh’s trams are bit too long – they seem longer than the trams in Manchester.
The other very interesting thing I spotted in Manchester were free electric buses that would cover the wider city centre area. I thought that was pretty wow. There also seemed to be a decent amount of cycling infrastructure. I was surprised though that there didn’t seem to be many cyclists. My train back to Edinburgh was due to leave just before 9am which gave me the opportunity to have a walk around a small part of the city centre during rush hour and it was notable how few cyclists there were compared to the number you would find on the streets in Edinburgh at the same time of the day. There clearly seemed to be something missing and I suspect it are the links to get there as traffic didn’t seem all that busy in the immediate city centre.
I roughly put the above observations on a Facebook post and got some interesting comments in return. Some were in favour of the trams, some were against or had comments of improvement. Other comments were complaints about improvement for infrastructure for cyclist and others were in favour of these. There was also a discussion about a congestion charge that had been put to the people of Manchester in a referendum. It was voted down.
There was one comment that intrigued me in particular from a Facebook friend of mine who is a runner, an outdoor person and coaches kayaking/canoeing and gymnastics. I highlight these things as her comments were both against the congestion charge, against the cycle improvements and against the trams with everything being in favour of the car. The reasoning – which I can to some degree understand – being that she has be transport a kayak and lives on her own.
If the negative comments had come from a non active person then I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid but these made me think as I was of the opinion that in the main active people and people who support and work with in sport would be in favour of measures to improve sustainable and active.
For people working towards improving the sustainable transport infrastructure this is an interesting hurdle to overcome. I have in the past often wondered why when I am out cycling I sometimes get cars with bike racks on them – sometimes with bikes – passing surprisingly close, thinking that they should know better. But what if they don’t know what it feels like when being passed to close. There are a large number of ‘cyclists’ who neither ride on the roads nor commute by bike. They are either out on trails or on track and some of those probably have surprisingly little interest in sustainable or active transport.
The key word here is transport so the means of getting to work, getting around, getting to the shops. This isn’t sport related but active. Interestingly you’d think that people doing sport would want to use healthy and active ways to get around too if they were put in place.
Looks like the active people need equally convincing that sustainable active transport is a good thing just as much as the inactive people need to made aware of this. Travelling actively will go a long way to a better, healthier and leaner body.