I’ve been in Bristol almost two weeks now and am really enjoying adjusting to life in a new City. Although Bristol apparently has the highest car ownership levels in the UK, there is a groundswell of pro- environment and anti-car sentiment here in spite of that (or perhaps because of it). I’ve become involved with a group of UWE students called People and Planet, who put on this ride (above center) to help Freshers (first years) get around by bike in Bristol. They are helping get the word out about the Bristol Critical Mass leaving from Arnolfini (a cinema and gallery) this Friday at 6pm. On Sunday I went on a ride with the Bristol Cycling Campaign to protest plans by the Bristol Council to build a new South Ring Road through green fields and neighborhoods. Along with the Bristol Airport expansion plans, these are the two major developments that Friends of the Earth and others are opposing strongly, mainly based on a climate protection rationale. On Saturday, there was a local celebration of car-free day, where they closed down Corn St. (above left).
Later on Sunday, I got a pleasant surprise when my friend Melanie, who has been riding with the Superheros through Ireland doing good deeds, dropped in for 24 hours before her flight back to SF. It was fun showing her my favorite parts of Bristol, including the railway path to Bath, St. Werburgh’s City Farm and self-build eco village (above right), and Montpelier, a dense mixed use neighborhood with wonderfully narrow streets close to the city centre.
I started my Masters course in Transport Planning at the University of the West of England last week- it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to learn how they do things in the UK. At the induction speech by the dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment, climate change was at the top of the list of challenges and considerations, so it is clear that we are quickly entering an era where the business of planning will not be carried out as usual. The increasing concentration of carbon in the shallow film of air that is called our atmosphere requires nothing less than a revolution in planning, travel and consumption patterns….