Bristol plans £35 million spend on cycleway network

£16 per head per year to get 20 percent commuting by bike by 2020

by John Stevenson   July 8, 2014  

The future of cycling in Bristol (CC BY-SA 2.0 licensed by Sam Saunders:Flickr)

Bristol City Council has unveiled one of the most ambitious plans to increase cycling of any UK town or city - plus the cash and commitment that mean it might actually happen.

Over the next five years, the city plans to spend £16 per head of population per year on improving cycling provision and implementing Bristol Cycling Campaign’s Cycling Manifesto, which has been adopted as council policy.

That £35 million investment will, it’s hoped, increase the number of people riding to work from its current level of eight percent of journeys, to 20 percent by 2020.

The project includes a mixture of what the council terms cycling freeways and quietways, including plenty of the Dutch-style segregated cycleways that are increasingly the main target of campaigning groups.

The economic benefits to the city are a major part of selling the plan. Any attempt to tinker with transport systems to encourage non-motorised travel always brings economic doomsayers (who almost always turn out to be wrong).

Bristol mayor George Ferguson said: "Cycling is good for the economy. A healthy workforce, which arrives to work less stressed and on time, is better for productivity and good health. I am confident that this document will help Bristol attract more funding to the city for improvements as it gives us the benefit of a clearly defined framework."

According to the Bristol Post’s Louis Emanuel the programme of cycling facilities will include a safe cycling link from Crews Hole to Temple Meads via Feeder Road, a Lawrence Weston to Avonmouth 'cycle street' and an extension of the Whitchurch Railway Path.

Other improvements are planned for Gloucester Road, Church Road, Whiteladies Road and from the centre to the south.

Assistant mayor for transport Mark Bradshaw said: “We can all be proud as a city that the number of people who cycle, either daily or less frequently, has greatly increased over the last ten years, I want to use this strategy to reach out to more groups who think cycling isn’t yet for them. 

“Bristol still faces challenges in persuading older people, children, women and disabled people that cycling can be part of lives. So, we must address the barriers to this wider participation which will help meet our transport and health priorities.”

Reacting to claims that the plan ignored the interests of drivers, he told the Bristol Post: "It's important to remember that a lot of people who drive also walk and cycle, so this is for the benefit of everyone. There is a huge public health benefit here which you can't put a value on.

"Changes to habits will also improve congestion.”

The bulk of the funding for the plan will come from central government grants such as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, the Cycling Ambition fund and the Revolving Infrastructure Fund. Only £5 million will come from the city’s own revenues.

“Tens of thousands of ordinary people already enjoy cycling in Bristol,” said Eric Booth, Chair of Bristol Cycle Campaign. “There are tens of thousands more who would like to join us, but they need to be confident that it’s safe and easy. We warmly welcome this strategy which is in line with our Bristol Cycling Manifesto. We’re looking forward to working with the council and local communities on making it happen.” 

The plan is open for public consultation until August 11.

30 user comments

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Bristol has a high share of cycle commuters (I'm one of them), but unfortunately a large population of "f-ing cyclists, don't pay road tax, why should I subsidise them and their toys"...

I really hope the policy does get enacted (but bear in mind that it's only out for consultation at the moment, and that the elected mayor's popularity is dropping like a stone...).

posted by brooksby [122 posts]
8th July 2014 - 13:25

58 Likes

I use the Bristol cycle infrastructure a lot and, despite the inevitable criticisms, it's pretty good with a lot of dedicated cycle paths; however where I work the cycle commuter 'gang' pretty much remains unchanged. Parking and traffic are hellish, but if you suggest cycling to someone they look at you like you've insulted their mother. These are people whose entire cycle journey could be on a path so they can't wheel out the safety excuse. The only way to get them out of their car is to prise it out of their cold dead hands. Anyway, potentially more infrastructure that benefits me and, perhaps, might convince others to get on 2 wheels.

Shades

posted by Shades [199 posts]
8th July 2014 - 13:46

57 Likes

Shades wrote:
The only way to get them out of their car is to prise it out of their cold dead hands.

I would suggest the only way is to make driving virtually impossible, to make it cost too much, to be too inconvenient. Say build a new cycle path that cuts a road in half, you can get round this with a driver dismount sign, it'll be fine... maybe some chicanes across the M32 and some speed humps? maybe introduce phoneboxes in the carriageway? How about the odd one of putting pedestrian and cyclist signs in the road way? All seem to help cyclists so I am sure drivers won't mind a bit of reciprocation?

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1126 posts]
8th July 2014 - 14:06

70 Likes

I'm already pretty happy with my commute in Bristol, but I welcome any changes that bring more people into the cycling community.

My workplace is in Aztec West business park and lots of folks commute over from Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Patchway, all of which are well served by cycle paths already, but for some reason most of them seem to be happy using a car, despite it being substantially slower during peak hours. Hell, I commute here from Westbury and I think that's still faster by bike than by car (certainly on the way home, maybe about even on the way in). I wonder if better employer investment in cycle facilities, up here, might make more of a difference in this area than more road investment.

On the other hand I know my wife would really appreciate some improvements on Gloucester road. Given the amount of bike traffic that already use that route it is surprisingly awful for cyclists.

posted by pikeamus [32 posts]
8th July 2014 - 14:07

57 Likes

For this to get people out of their cars, they need to design the road system so cyclists get direct routes but motorists don't as shown in this video:

http://youtu.be/PJhGSxDb5wQ

That way you make riding a bike the most convenient and direct method .... i.e. it needs to be the most attractive solution and especially more attractive than driving or nothing will change.

It's far from rocket science but it means re-designing the roads to make car travel more complicated. Then people can still drive if they want to, but it will take them longer than cycling, so people will ride instead of using their car (it'll save people a ton of cash on transport too and mean less need for 2nd cars & car parking if done well).

It's all about design and quality of infrastructure - but it's different thinking than any English speaking country uses right now. All the health benefits, reduced pollution, congestion etc are just fantastic by products.

My cycling blog: http://girodilento.com/

posted by girodilento [30 posts]
8th July 2014 - 14:20

53 Likes

girodilento wrote:
For this to get people out of their cars, they need to design the road system so cyclists get direct routes but motorists don't as shown in this video:

http://youtu.be/PJhGSxDb5wQ

That way you make riding a bike the most convenient and direct method .... i.e. it needs to be the most attractive solution and especially more attractive than driving or nothing will change.

It's far from rocket science but it means re-designing the roads to make car travel more complicated. Then people can still drive if they want to, but it will take them longer than cycling, so people will ride instead of using their car (it'll save people a ton of cash on transport too and mean less need for 2nd cars & car parking if done well).

It's all about design and quality of infrastructure - but it's different thinking than any English speaking country uses right now. All the health benefits, reduced pollution, congestion etc are just fantastic by products.

Brilliant video. Particularly as it proves the lie "There is nothing we can do as [insert city/town of your choice] has a medieval street layout that means that we can't do anything to accommodate cyclists."

Why are we always looking to the continent for good ideas and not the other way round? At Wits End
http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/07/the-greatest-urban-experiment-right...

posted by levermonkey [368 posts]
8th July 2014 - 15:02

38 Likes

With regard to increasing bike uptake by making cycling the easier option, to be fair to Bristol planners - they have successfully making driving more and more excruciating for years now Wink

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [423 posts]
8th July 2014 - 15:13

48 Likes

fukawitribe wrote:
With regard to increasing bike uptake by making cycling the easier option, to be fair to Bristol planners - they have successfully making driving more and more excruciating for years now Wink

Mind you walking from Temple Meads into the city centre isn't exactly pleasant either!

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1126 posts]
8th July 2014 - 15:21

44 Likes

What happens in 5 years time? Or 10 years? Or 30? How will these routes be improved, linked and extended?

posted by teaboy [164 posts]
8th July 2014 - 17:40

42 Likes

girodilento wrote:
For this to get people out of their cars, they need to design the road system so cyclists get direct routes but motorists don't as shown in this video:

http://youtu.be/PJhGSxDb5wQ

quote]

Ah, transported to nirvana watching that video .

posted by Scrumpymonkey [4 posts]
8th July 2014 - 19:57

35 Likes

teaboy wrote:
What happens in 5 years time? Or 10 years? Or 30? How will these routes be improved, linked and extended?

Blimey - that's a bit of a wide ranging question.. was there a particular point behind it or just a general sort of wondering-about-things ponder ?

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [423 posts]
8th July 2014 - 20:05

41 Likes

mrmo wrote:

Mind you walking from Temple Meads into the city centre isn't exactly pleasant either!


Go out the side exit, straight on to the harbour ferry stop, turn left, down the slope under the first bridge, cross at the second bridge, down steps on the left and walk alongside the water and into castle park. On a bike, turn left after the steps, ride up the slope and turn left into the park at the corner.

What's unpleasant about that walk? Seems like one they already got right.

posted by a.jumper [704 posts]
9th July 2014 - 8:11

29 Likes

fukawitribe wrote:
teaboy wrote:
What happens in 5 years time? Or 10 years? Or 30? How will these routes be improved, linked and extended?

Blimey - that's a bit of a wide ranging question.. was there a particular point behind it or just a general sort of wondering-about-things ponder ?

I'm just continually frustrated by the short-term tokenism of this country's attitude to infrastructure projects. This funding if (and it's still quite a big if) it happens will be for 5 years. Those in charge have set the target of 20% of commutes by bike. When they miss this (because they will - it's unrealistically high for such a short timeframe), what happens to the project? Is it continued, or deemed a failure and any future money spent on cycle infrastructure will be seen as wasted?

What would be better is to aim for 5% of journeys to school to be by bike in 5 years time, rising to 20% in 10 years time, coupled with the increased budget to support and reach these goals (including a decent percentage of the transport budget from now on to be spent on cycle infrastructure). This forces you to acknowledge that setting a goal is not the same as planning for one. It builds from the ground up, creating people who have always travelled by bike on infrastructure safe enough for everyone.

posted by teaboy [164 posts]
9th July 2014 - 8:40

29 Likes

fukawitribe wrote:
With regard to increasing bike uptake by making cycling the easier option, to be fair to Bristol planners - they have successfully making driving more and more excruciating for years now Wink

Ah, so all those cars driving a handful of miles into town with a single occupant at the wheel belong to planners, then?

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
9th July 2014 - 8:41

26 Likes

a.jumper wrote:
What's unpleasant about that walk? Seems like one they already got right.

The ferry is a cracking way of getting out of Temple Meads. I used to use it occasionally the other way, from Cumberland Basin to Castle Park, to get to work as although it was not really much faster than walking and slower than bike, it is a lovely way to travel and give a decidedly different view the city. Used to have a fair amount of commuters on there, going to London and elsewhere. Glad it's still going, it's had it's wobbles.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [423 posts]
9th July 2014 - 11:44

30 Likes

teaboy wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
teaboy wrote:
What happens in 5 years time? Or 10 years? Or 30? How will these routes be improved, linked and extended?

Blimey - that's a bit of a wide ranging question.. was there a particular point behind it or just a general sort of wondering-about-things ponder ?

I'm just continually frustrated by the short-term tokenism of this country's attitude to infrastructure projects. This funding if (and it's still quite a big if) it happens will be for 5 years. Those in charge have set the target of 20% of commutes by bike. When they miss this (because they will - it's unrealistically high for such a short timeframe), what happens to the project? Is it continued, or deemed a failure and any future money spent on cycle infrastructure will be seen as wasted?

What would be better is to aim for 5% of journeys to school to be by bike in 5 years time, rising to 20% in 10 years time, coupled with the increased budget to support and reach these goals (including a decent percentage of the transport budget from now on to be spent on cycle infrastructure). This forces you to acknowledge that setting a goal is not the same as planning for one. It builds from the ground up, creating people who have always travelled by bike on infrastructure safe enough for everyone.

While I agree with pretty much everything you've said, you could go and have a look at, and comment on, the plan. There's some decent stuff in there, as well as some silliness - but I think you're a wee bit previous in condemning it so completely. Short term thinking is a blight on this country, has been for at least a few decades now, but lets not tar everything with that brush (This is one thing George Ferguson has, despite the flack, actually been trying to do - however badly managed.)

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [423 posts]
9th July 2014 - 11:51

33 Likes

Mr Agreeable wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
With regard to increasing bike uptake by making cycling the easier option, to be fair to Bristol planners - they have successfully making driving more and more excruciating for years now Wink

Ah, so all those cars driving a handful of miles into town with a single occupant at the wheel belong to planners, then?

More general incompetence, the bizarre old planning for the centre from Prince Street through to the Haymarket and the comments from some of them about deliberately making things harder for cars.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [423 posts]
9th July 2014 - 11:55

28 Likes

I cycle to work everyday on the B2B cycle path. One of my colleagues has taken to telling me about all the near misses between pedestrians and cyclists on shared cycle paths and cyclists jumping red lights or ignoring pedestrian crossings etc.

I sympathies with him and agree there are a sizable number of cyclists who flaunt the rules of the road and don't pay enough care to pedestrians.

But it occurs to me that this is exactly the mentality of motorists to cyclists on the road. It would not surprise me if the less well behaved cyclists were previously motorists.

The other thing that occurs to be is that a lot of the cycle paths appearing we once footpaths were cycling was forbidden until one day someone painted a picture of a bicycle on them and said 'away you go'.

I don't think bicycles should have to be relegated to dedicated lanes except in extremes like the network of mammoth roadabouts around Temple Meads for instance.

posted by earth [81 posts]
9th July 2014 - 13:58

25 Likes

I really don't think you can blame the current crop of planners. They are dealing with the fallout from their 1960s predecessors, who thought it was a good idea to use the M32 and assorted trunk roads to funnel loads of traffic into a city centre which is rife with pinch points at bridges, rivers and bits of the city that are too nice to be messed up with yet more roads (even though they've had a good go in the past - does anyone mourn the loss of the dual carriageway from Queen Square?)

In the meantime there's been a failure to come up with an effective public transport system which is largely due to the refusal of other local authorities to create an integrated transport authority, or explore expensive but worthwhile options like light rail. The best we can come up with is the BRT system, a glorified Park and Ride which they keep trying to shoehorn in alongside cycle paths, parks and allotments.

The proposed cycle network is the one glimmer of hope in all of this - I really hope it can be delivered without being too watered down by the NIMBYs who don't want to give up their on-street car-dumping.

There's a good summary of Bristol's transport issues here, if anyone's interested:

http://www.bristol247.com/2013/11/08/bristol-transport-another-depressin...

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
9th July 2014 - 14:14

35 Likes

Mr Agreeable wrote:
I really don't think you can blame the current crop of planners.

Agreed, mostly, and with the rest of what you said. There have been recent changes which were apparently made with half an eye on making private car use less appealing, which is good if it comes with good alternatives such as more pedestrian and cycle routes but much was, as you say, inherited.

...and, no, i've never met anyone who mourned the road through Queen Square going either.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [423 posts]
9th July 2014 - 15:03

27 Likes

The Bristol post covered this story yesterday as well. The comments beneath the story there were pretty depressing. One of the relatively civil replies suggested that cyclists don't use the paths they're given anyway, citing Hartcliffe way as a road where they are held up by cyclists that aren't using the path.

Does anybody here use Hartcliffe way? I had a brief look on googlemaps and it seemed like a frustrating path at the top, with around 4 occasions where a cyclist would need to give way for a side road, followed by having to cross at some lights when the path changed sides, shortly before the path disappeared into some back streets and I couldn't figure out which way it was supposed to go.

I would have liked to relay this information to the person making the comment on the article in the post, but that website is pretty terrible and it didn't seem to want to accept my comment.

posted by pikeamus [32 posts]
9th July 2014 - 16:59

27 Likes

Why does the behaviour of cyclists even enter these debates? No-one ever says "We'd build a road here but we're worried joyriders might use it".

The last bit of your comment is also a tad contradictory. If we're sharing pavements with pedestrians, these are not "dedicated cycle lanes". The first project being built under this scheme, on Clarence Road, is a 3 metre-wide kerbed-off cycle lane - with a nice wide pavement next to it.

If the network can all be built to this standard, complaining that you're expected to use it will be a bit like moaning about how matches have robbed you of the pleasure of creating fire by rubbing two sticks together.

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
9th July 2014 - 17:18

22 Likes

Pikeamus, I've seen far more people cycling along that track than using the "30 mph" road next to it.

There were some similar comments on the Bristol 24/7 article, again relating to a cycle path with dodgy side road crossings and a non-existent entry/exit. I wish British traffic planners would pull their socks up* and sort these out.

*Magically overcome decades of bad design guidance, local authority apathy and open hostility from people who think cyclists are all Special Brew-drinking handbag thieves.

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
9th July 2014 - 17:25

11 Likes

mrmo wrote:
Shades wrote:
The only way to get them out of their car is to prise it out of their cold dead hands.

I would suggest the only way is to make driving virtually impossible, to make it cost too much, to be too inconvenient. Say build a new cycle path that cuts a road in half, you can get round this with a driver dismount sign, it'll be fine... maybe some chicanes across the M32 and some speed humps? maybe introduce phoneboxes in the carriageway? How about the odd one of putting pedestrian and cyclist signs in the road way? All seem to help cyclists so I am sure drivers won't mind a bit of reciprocation?

If national government ensured that motoring cost what it costs - in other words, that it wasn't heavily subsidised out of general taxation - that might well do the trick.

posted by Paul M [311 posts]
9th July 2014 - 20:50

16 Likes

a.jumper wrote:
mrmo wrote:

Mind you walking from Temple Meads into the city centre isn't exactly pleasant either!


Go out the side exit, straight on to the harbour ferry stop, turn left, down the slope under the first bridge, cross at the second bridge, down steps on the left and walk alongside the water and into castle park. On a bike, turn left after the steps, ride up the slope and turn left into the park at the corner.

What's unpleasant about that walk? Seems like one they already got right.

As every time i leave TM i go out the front door, past the taxi ranks, across a dual carriageway and am then faced with the pleasant! walk along main roads, i wasn't even aware there was an alternative. I am not a local, so if paths exist being obvious helps.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1126 posts]
9th July 2014 - 22:19

13 Likes

mrmo wrote:
I am not a local, so if paths exist being obvious helps.

I'm a local and I didn't know about that route either, so you're not alone.

ride slow, ride far, ride often

posted by mzungu [33 posts]
9th July 2014 - 23:12

18 Likes

mzungu wrote:
mrmo wrote:
I am not a local, so if paths exist being obvious helps.

I'm a local and I didn't know about that route either, so you're not alone.


After you exit through the ticket barriers, there's a big (six foot or so) sign listing different ways to the city centre: left to the buses and taxis or straight on (out the side exit to Temple Quay) to the ferry or by foot. I remember it because it doesn't mention cycling, surprisingly for a so-called cycling city. You can see it in the background of the photo at http://www.bristol-culture.com/2014/07/03/volunteer-hosts-welcome-visito...

Once you get outside and across the car park, there's a map pillar and you can either head to the harbour path or turn left to follow the "Brunel mile" to Queen Square. I'm sure the city council would love to hear of how to make it more obvious.

posted by a.jumper [704 posts]
10th July 2014 - 3:50

12 Likes

Cheers - will def look for it next time Smile

ride slow, ride far, ride often

posted by mzungu [33 posts]
10th July 2014 - 11:23

1 Like

pikeamus wrote:
The Bristol post covered this story yesterday as well. The comments beneath the story there were pretty depressing. One of the relatively civil replies suggested that cyclists don't use the paths they're given anyway, citing Hartcliffe way as a road where they are held up by cyclists that aren't using the path.

Does anybody here use Hartcliffe way?


I do when heading from that side of town. I understand the frustration of drivers if there are cyclists in the road as the pavement on both sides is shared use. There's really no excuse not to use them, especially as the one on the right going up is really wide, well marked and usually dead quiet.

I can't bear to read Post comments if bikes are mentioned. Obviously whatever the tenuous link you can predict Mr(or Miss, or Mrs) Angry will be along with the 'fact' that ALL cyclists jump red lights, ride on the pavement, never use lights and mow down any pedestrian in their path. Ironically they want us all off the road (and presumably into a car in front of them in the congestion, but their limited brain power doesn't extend that far).

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
10th July 2014 - 12:59

1 Like

For anyone interested in the detail of what they're planning to do, the slides from the launch event are now up here (PDF, 20 MB): https://t.co/sDLHmEhTXC

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
11th July 2014 - 12:56

1 Like