There are always two sides to every story, and Bristol has many tragic transport tales to tell. On the first day of my Transport Planning masters course at UWE, I needed to take the bus, as my bike had a broken chain. I waited over 45 minutes at the bus stop, with about a dozen other frustrated students. Then we sat in gridlock for another 45 minutes- a whole hour and a half to get from my St. Andrews home to Frenchay Campus, a distance of only 2 miles which takes about ten minutes on a bike. On top of that, it costs £2 (about $3.75) for a single ticket. Needless to say, I got my trusty “push bike” fixed the next day, and have sustained a bus “bikecott” ever since.
The deregulation of the bus industry (in the UK outside of London) has apparently resulted in more expensive and less reliable service. No doubt this state of affairs has led many to the driver’s seat, exacerbating an already bad situation.
It is a sad tale of congestion, frustration and woe every rush hour in “Brizzle,” with Chelsea Tractors (SUV’s) and a queue of single occupant vehicles crammed into narrow lanes and oversubscribed ring roads. There is an epidemic of pavement (sidewalk) parking in Bristol, forcing mothers with strollers and everyone else into the path of speeding cars, and choking neighborhood walkways.
Added to a proposed south ring road in Bristol, ambitious and destructive plans to expand Bristol International Airport, artificially low parking fees (and ample parking lots) at UWE, the rejection of light rail up the Gloucester Road, a real lack of cycle parking in front of stores, and the highest car ownership rates in the UK, and suddenly the green sheen of Bristol starts to lose its luster.
Quite a hefty burden for a transport planner to deal with really. One of my fellow Transport Planning students, Nick, when presented with a series of transport prediction models the other day, asked why these were necessary when we know what we have to do, and that is get cars off the road. “It’s a bloody emergency, how can we sit around fiddling with models when the planet is burning?”
We don’t have to be led like lambs to slaughter. We can restore true transport choice, create livable, safe, beautiful communities, and escape the vicious cycle of fossil fuel dependency, all while improving quality of life.
We just need to come together and agree that is what we want– then build the cycle paths, the rapid accessible transit networks, homezones, and wind turbines that will make living carbon neutral lives so much more possible.
Do we really need that new plasma TV or that cheap cardigan made in China? That cheap flight to the continent? That new BMW X5 with onboard navigation? We need it like we need flooded cities, 500 million refugees, and an atmosphere gone haywire, a home in space we can no longer depend on.
To put it bluntly, If the wealthiest people and nations wish to carbonize the atmospheric commons more than the rest of us, they should have to purchase carbon credits from those of us who pollute less. As energy cuts become ever more urgent, a carbon rationing market will have to emerge, bringing the true costs of energy to bear, and perhaps bringing social equity to a world desperately in need of it.
Thank god the following organizations are riding a wave of popularity at the moment and promise to bring transport sanity back to Bristol- please give them your full support:
The growing campaign to Stop Bristol Airport Expansion –The airport wants to TRIPLE flights by 2030- scientists say we need carbon CUTS of 70% by that year- there is a disconnect here people….
An Alliance Against the South Bristol Ring Road is fighting a new road through open space and greenbelt in the South of Bristol
Bristol Cycling Campaign reminds local politicians we need more resources and attention to those on two wheels
And a colorful group setting the record straight about Bristol’s TRUE history:
An eerie similarity between addiction to nicotine and gasoline (DON”T MISS!)
George Monbiot, populist climate change leader holding their feet to the fire on climate change: Turn Up the Heat- George Monbiot