Bristolians- Speak Up for a REAL Cycling City!!

Speak Up for a True Cycling City in Bristol!
Come to the Public Meeting this Wednesday evening October 8th from 6- 8:30pm at Fairfield High School, Allfoxton Road, Horfield!

Rusting Eyesore or 21st Century Bicycle Expressway? You decide...

Rusting Eyesore or 21st Century Bicycle Expressway? You decide...

You may have heard that Bristol is now Cycling City UK.  It’s hard to believe the hype after the last few months: the Council “forgetting” to include a single bike rack as part of the Cabot Circus development (boasting over 2500 car spaces), removal of a key cycle lane on Lower Ashley Rd., and an attempt to destroy the best bits of the Bristol-Bath Cycle Path.

Yet Bristol remains on track to receive over £11 million in funding (added to the City’s £11 million for a total of £22 million) to improve cycling in Bristol.  The “public outreach” and “consultation” has quite simply been a debacle.   This blogger recently learned that members of the public were turned away from the last public meeting on September 10th at Armada House.  Planners also told members of an advisory panel “not to tell anyone else about the plan,” less than two weeks before it gets approved by the City Council.   Now they’re finally presenting the plan on Wednesday, but they tell us “we’re terribly sorry but it’s simply too late to accept public comment.”

THIS IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.   This is £22 million of taxpayer money being spent on cycling in Bristol- truly an unprecedented amount of money, and an incredible opportunity to develop a high quality cycle expressway network in Bristol.  Yet we could end up seeing the money spent on more of the same: inadequate cycle lanes- often in the dangerous ‘door zone’ that end just when you need them the most, ill-thought-out facilities that don’t join up and abandon cyclists at junctions, and underwriting the payrolls of existing city council staff and large charities.

At the meeting on Wednesday, many of us will be asking the City Council to meet their responsibility to consult the public and make the Cycling City plan work for the people of Bristol, specifically:

1) Set aside £1 million for construction of the first phase of a Cycling Expressway that would connect St. Werburgh’s, Bishopston, Lockleaze, Montpelier, and St. Andrews directly across the M32 to Easton and the Bristol-Bath Cycle Path, via a level, traffic-free pathway along the rail line.

2) Funding development of a 10 year Cycling Plan for Bristol:  If we don’t have a plan developed in consultation with all of Bristol’s neighbourhoods, we will end up with a fragmented network and disjointed policy (more of the same)

3) A 20mph speed limit in all of Bristol’s residential areas, to encourage cycling and walking.  A pedestrian hit at 30 mph has a 45% chance of being killed, while at 20mph it’s only a 5% chance.

4) Ensure that key on-road cycle lanes are included in the plan- such as striping a continuous bike lane on the A38 (Upper Gloucester Rd.)

5) Funding of grassroots initiatives to market and promote cycling, and hiring of a visionary, inspirational project leader.

6) Key restraints on motor vehicle traffic to prioritise cycling: closure of medieval City Centre streets to car traffic, filtered permeability at key locations along minor roads (allowing biked/ peds through while creating cul-de-sacs for cars)

If the City Council is serious about truly making Bristol a Cycling City, then this is one way forward.   If we’re happy with the way things have been, we can always just let £22 million be frittered away and continue to sit in our cars spewing more CO2 and cursing the traffic.  The choice is ours.

Come speak up for a better Cycling City Plan at the Cycling City Public Hearing on Wednesday October 8th at 6pm -8.30pm at Fairfield High School, Allfoxton Road, Horfield.  For more information about this campaign, contact Josh Hart at


6 responses to “Bristolians- Speak Up for a REAL Cycling City!!

  1. spot on Josh. Since what is to be announced on wednesday is supposedly secret it is hard to be sure, but I have a feeling that we will not be punching the air with delight at the brave and incisive vision they set out before us.

  2. The timescale for the investment of potentially £22 million is ridiculously short, given that Bristol has never before taken cycling seriously as a form of transport.

    It takes time to develop the experience, expertise and imagination to handle significant levels of investment in cycling. The Council cannot conceivably develop that “culture” in just a few months or even a couple of years.

    The money involved is OUR money, not the Government’s, not Cycling England’s and not Bristol City Council’s. It is money taken from us in taxes to be spent for OUR benefit. We are entitled to insist that it is.

    With the Cycle Expressway idea I think Josh has identified what may well turn out to be the most cost effective way of investing this money under the present circumstances. The one outstanding success of the last 30 years in Bristol has been a Cycle Expressway – the Railway Path to Staple Hill tunnel and on to Bath.

    Almost everything else that has been done has been tokenistic, fragmented and compromised by the unwillingness of the Council to give cycling priority over the demands of motorists, most notably when it comes to managing car parking (imagine what could be done for cyclists is so much space on our roads wasn’t given over to provide subsidised car parking).

    Josh proposes the creation of a network based on the principles of the Railway Path – complete segregation from motor traffic; direct, level and continuous routes; pleasant green environments and good linkages into surrounding areas. We know it works, PROVIDING it is implemented by an agency committed to getting it right and not by the Council itself.

    I think this may be our one and only chance to take some control of this process. As Josh has pointed out the decision making has been deliberately kept out of our reach so far, notably by such mechanisms as the Stakeholders’ Panel where the Council even had the audacity to nominate the Bristol Cycling Campaign’s representative.

    So let’s all recognise that this is the moment to take a stand and make it absolutely clear that we will not accept the Council, whose own track record is so appalling, treating OUR money as if it were theirs to spend as they see fit and expecting cyclists to be grateful for whatever they deign to dispense on our behalf.

  3. This sounds really good. Not just the “expressway”, but also the filtered permeability, which has the power to transform streets into much more pleasant places. That could be vital to the success of the “expressway” itself as it will provide the needed pleasant links to the primary route – Dutch research thirty years ago showed that a network of routes wasn’t effective at increasing cycling unless it passed close to homes:

    I hope your council has the same forward thinking views as are being expressed here.

  4. Sadly I can’t make the meeting tomorrow, but I would like to add my experiences to the list of points. I have started taking my cycle on the train when I go to meetings. Beside the fact that there are only about 3-6 cycle spots on most trains, getting to the train station is dangerous because the connecting roads are littered with traffic lights and frustrated drivers that are focused only on getting their car into any available space. I think the plan also needs to include:

    1. Cycle lanes to the train and bus stations. The lanes should be separate from the car road. I.e., there should be kerb stones protecting the cyclists from the car drivers. I was in Berlin a few weeks ago and they have an AMAZING cycle system that WORKS! I would recommend any planners working on the Bristol project to visit Berlin to see for themselves.

    2. Signs should be placed along busy stretches of road to remind drivers to leave space for cyclists and to look in their mirrors before making erratic manoeuvres. The most dangerous time is when drivers are crawling along in traffic, and are totally zoned out from boredom.

    3. Hotwells has very few cycle lanes. There are 2 stretches that I know of that last about 100 feet around a corner where Hotwell Road meets Hopechapel Hill, and again at the end by Jacob’s Wells Road. Hotwell Road is a busy road with major traffic issues. Cars rarely leave space for cyclists.

    4. Clifton has wide roads, e.g., Whiteladies Road, but no cycle lanes.

    Please could you include these points when you address the council on Wednesday! Thanks!

  5. so what happend at the meeting?

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