10 November 2021

Manchester’s active travel scheme will not go the same way as Mobike – Burnham

10 November 2021

Andy Burnham said his plans for a network of bikes to help Mancunians shift to active travel will not go the same way as the doomed Mobike scheme.

The Greater Manchester mayor recently unveiled a plan to shift Manchester’s transport network to net-zero by 2030, including a system of hire bikes.

Manchester made headlines in 2018 when Chinese firm Mobike pulled out of the city, citing unsustainable levels of theft and vandalism of its bikes.

Speaking on “transport day” of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Mr Burnham said: “We’ve definitely learned from that experience.

“When Mobike came in, it wasn’t a planned scheme that we brought in – they just came in, and we tried to work with it, but it was a very different scheme.”

He told the PA news agency: “It wasn’t a managed scheme, basically, whereas the scheme we’re bringing in now has people who are operating the scheme, they’re managing it.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on one of the new Bee bikes (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Burnham added that, crucially, the new scheme involves docking stations and the bikes are of a much higher quality.

“We will learn as we go, we won’t say ‘This is it and we won’t make any changes’ – if we need to make changes, we will.”

Mr Burnham said a sense of ownership will also ensure there is a future for the bikes.

“I’d say to people, look, let’s… all of us look after them because this is about the city’s infrastructure, and it’s about helping everybody get around more cheaply,” he said.

“We’ve brought the costs of the Bee bikes down as low as we can possibly make it so they are truly affordable for everybody.

“So, if you damage a bike, you’re maybe taking away somebody’s opportunity to get around and do that in a much better way than jumping in a car.”

Elsewhere, he warned the Government is in danger of missing the opportunity to use Cop26 to spell out to citizens how the drive to net-zero can improve their lives.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading back to Cop26 on Wednesday (Steve Reigate/Daily Express/PA) (PA Wire)

As Boris Johnson heads back to the summit on Wednesday, Mr Burnham said: “I would say I’m glad that the Prime Minister is coming here today – that’s positive – but I would say this should be the whole Cabinet coming today.

“It should be a whole Government operation, sending the message to the rest of the world that the UK is trying to lead this.

“It doesn’t look to me like we’re really driving the leadership necessary here to get that big agreement that we need across the world and time’s running out.”

He said the fact two major fossil fuel projects – the Cambo oil field and the Cumbria coal mine – could soon be under way shows the Government is not practicing what it preaches.

“One of the things that has undermined Cop has been a lot of preaching, but the actions of people haven’t matched up to the words,” he said.

Mr Burnham said he is still waiting for the green light from the Government to start on a plan to cut a million tonnes of carbon from the Greater Manchester economy over the next three years.

“I feel the frustrations – we’re saying ‘Just let us go, let us do it and hold us to account for that’.

“Then Britain will have the leadership necessary to be able to then convince other countries to do the same.”

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