Making a Beeline for church
08 October 2018 IN: Parish News
The Church of England in Greater Manchester is encouraging its churches to welcome cycling by offering bike racks, cycling cafes and safety courses. It’s all part of supporting the new Beelines project, which is a radical plan by Chris Boardman and Transport for Greater Manchester to transform Greater Manchester into Britain’s first ‘cycling city’. The move also supports the aim for Manchester to become an Eco Diocese.
Beelines is a plan to connect every neighbourhood in Greater Manchester by offering a network of cycling and walking routes. Beelines aims to enable the two thirds of people who currently use their car as their main mode of transport, to walk or cycle. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise the way people get around the city region.
Many churches within the boundary of Greater Manchester may soon find that they are on a 'Beeline': over 1000 miles of a fully joined up cycling and walking network. The diocese has produced an interactive map on its website to help churches find where they will sit on the network.
The Diocese of Manchester commissioned Church Times artist Dave Walker to create a cartoon encouraging churches to welcome people who cycle.
As the work on improving the city’s infrastructure gets underway, churches can begin to make provision for people on bikes. As well as welcoming potential new members to their congregations, as cross-city travel becomes easier, healthier and safer, churches can embrace opportunities to invite passing foot and bicycle traffic in through the church doors, as tourism and car-free activity increases.
Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester Cycling and Walking Commissioner, encourages the churches’ support of Beelines. He said, "Churches are a fantastic hub that can bring people together. By supporting cycling they can help people get around in a more ecologically friendly, healthy and pleasant way."
The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said “Beelines is all about making it easier to get about the city, on foot and by bike. We’re really excited about it because it will improve people’s health and it will help people to get about. Our churches are ideally placed in every community to offer a welcome for cycling. It fits well with our desire to become an Eco Diocese, which means taking seriously our care of God’s creation.”
British Cycling Policy Manager, Nick Chamberlin, said: “The support of the local community will be absolutely vital in making Beelines as successful and transformative as we believe it can be, and it is fantastic to see the churches leading the way and lending their support. We look forward to working with them over the coming years to help as many people as possible – from children learning for the first time to those who just haven’t ridden for a while – discover the benefits of riding a bike.”
Artist Dave Walker, who created the cartoon, said, “This has been a brilliant project to be involved in, not least because bicycles and church goings-on are two of the things I know how to draw. I love cycling as a healthy, quiet, non-polluting and sustainable way of getting around. It’s great to see the Diocese of Manchester taking a lead in encouraging churches to make a particular effort to welcome people who cycle.”