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Conservative standing as MP at next year’s general election says plans “unrealistic” and “too proscriptive”

A Conservative councillor in Bristol has said that £35 million earmarked to be spent on cycling in the city would be better invested in improving local rail services instead.

The southwest city last week unveiled ambitious plans to get 20 per cent of commuter trips there undertaken by bicycle by 2020.

Bristol City Council will spend £7 million a year over the next five years, the annual equivalent of £16 per head of its population, to try and realise its vision.

But Councillor Claire Hiscott, parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party in the Bristol West constituency at next year’s general election, has described the council’s cycling strategy as “too proscriptive” and “unrealistic,” reports the Bristol Post.

She said: “Personally, I am very enthusiastic about cycling and welcome more being done to promote it and the creation of segregated routes across the city, to enable all those who choose to get around in this way to feel safer.

“However, I think we have to face the reality that cycling will never suit a majority of commuters or provide a solution to Bristol’s traffic congestion, and I fear the wholesale implementation of this plan might even make matters worse.

“The whole tone and tenor of this draft document also reads rather too proscriptive.

“Sadly, I think the idea of spending £7 million per year on cycling is unrealistic – particularly should problems arise in securing future government grants or external funding.

“If the mayor has money to spare in his transport budget, then I would prefer this was put towards greater investment in urban rail – a far more practical means of mass transit than the bicycle,” she added.

The plans announced last week aim to improve cycling provision in the city, as well as implementing Bristol Cycling Campaign’s Cycling Manifesto, formally adopted as council policy.

They include implementing ‘quietway’ and segregated cycle lanes, and are aimed at providing an economic stimulus for the city.

Mayor of Bristol 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."

The Bristol cycling plan remains open for consultation until 11 August 2014.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

42 comments

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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So, to support cycling she's going to defund the projects? Councillor logic at its best.

Wonder if £35m even buys a complete train set nowadays?

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ct [165 posts] 2 years ago
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Out of interest, what is Urban Rail? I thought that Bris shelved the SuperTram system and the Guided Buses...

I am guessing it is traditional heavy rail...

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therevokid [948 posts] 2 years ago
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f'ing Tories !!!!!!

yet another attempt to change some of the cycle routes into
tramways ... grrrrr

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pikeamus [48 posts] 2 years ago
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To make the Bristol rail network useful for commuters you'd need to spend a lot more than 35m. Currently there are large swathes of the city that are not served by the rail network in a way that is useful for commuting. Just in north bristol you'd need to open the Henbury loop line, which would be an incredible investment in itself.

Then we get the issue that commuting by rail is expensive, comparable to going by car, and also typically slow and unreliable. Plus the city centre station involves a non-insignificant walk (about a mile to BS1 on googlemaps) to actually get to the centre. I don't really see anyone choosing to go from driving to using the train without the entire system being replaced.

Throw in that you don't get the benefits of a healthier population that comes with cycling, and I really don't think it would be sensible to divert money that way. I'd like to see the trains here improved, but that should not involve taking away funding from the most sustainable (outside of walking) and beneficial means of transport.

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girodilento [32 posts] 2 years ago
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So more government by anecdote?

It'd be interesting to see the research and evidence from other countries and cities that she's based her comments on. Surely she's done her homework before speaking about such a major investment?

Could Road.cc (or anyone) follow up with her and share the research and evidence behind her comments?

Cycling is the only proven way to reduce congestion that I've found, I must have seen different analyses.

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bendertherobot [1073 posts] 2 years ago
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She's right. that £35 million will almost certainly stretch to a pre consultation about the possibility of a feasibility study into the potential for urban rail in an urban setting.

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
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The guided buses are still very much alive and well, I'm afraid. So far the BRT2 project alone has cost £13 million and all they've done is dig up a bit of the river bank. http://stopbrt2.org.uk/

Bristol's tram network has been dead for decades, although you can still see signs of what used to be, like the old power station at Finzel's Reach, now being converted into trendy flats.

Jacknorell, the Portishead line is definitiely reopening, but they're still trying to fund the cost of £55 million. For one station. That makes £35 million on a comprehensive cycle network for most of the city look like pretty good value to me.

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mrmo [2076 posts] 2 years ago
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why do people like cars?

Is it because they isolate the user, is it because they travel from door to door, is it because they appear cheap at the point of use?

Now consider the train, you have a time table, you have to have a way of getting to the train station. At the point of use they aren't particularly cheap, and finally they are full of other people.

Then think about how to travel and how far your traveling. Clifton into the city centre, Is a train really a viable approach, or is the councillor out in South Gloucestershire where a bike ride is a bit far and wants a better train service, afterall a long way from Temple Meads to the city centre!

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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I'll tell you what, Give her the £35 million to spend on rail. So long as cycling can take a couple of BILLION from the white elephant that is HS2.....

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userfriendly [562 posts] 2 years ago
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A Tory fishing for petrol head votes in the most obvious way. What else is new?

Sounds like the mayor himself seems very much in favour of spending the monies on cycling regardless of what comes out of her face, so it's all good.

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Shades [294 posts] 2 years ago
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Not quite sure what else you can do with the current Bristol rail structure. My journeys are by train, bike or a combination and, despite the traffic getting worse, parking charges going up etc, I haven't seen an increase in the number of passengers; however, I would say I've seen more bikes being used. I'm always amazed at the increasing levels of misery drivers are prepared to endure when there are other transport options available. I was on 'new territory' yesterday in Bristol and had 2 near misses; so spend the money on cycling! I was in Bristol 'pikeyville' so shouldn't have been too surprised!  3

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HKCambridge [222 posts] 2 years ago
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“Personally, I am very enthusiastic about cycling and welcome more being done to promote it and the creation of segregated routes across the city, to enable all those who choose to get around in this way to feel safer."

This is it. She cannot imagine that anyone who doesn't already cycle will do so. As if cyclists arise at random, unbidden, rather than being shaped by conditions.

Why won't it suit the majority of commuters Cllr Hiscott? It's fast, cheap and healthy. Make it safe too and you're on to a winner.

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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Whist I don't agree with Councillor Claire Hiscott I can see her point of view and the logic in her reasoning.

Many people travel into Bristol every day to work and travel in the city is very car-centric. It's a pretty typical state-of-affairs but many of us now live substantial distances from our places of work and travel by bike is not a realistic option. Better rail routes and services however would provide a viable aternative to the car.

To give a personal perspective, I live about 30 miles from Bristol and would certainly consider Bristol as a place to work. For me, 30 miles is too far for a cycle commute and as enticing as a metric centry every day might be the travel time would just be too great. I would be able to get a train to Bristol and then ride to my place of work so the presence of a good rail service is actually the key to being able to leave the car at home; the roads might be hostile for cyclists but they aready work.

My big worry when I hear of earmarked cycling budgets is that we end up with more useless segreagted lanes that de-prioritise cycling and make the roads even more hostile for those of us who choose not to behave as glorified pedestrians. Let's hope that this money is well spent on meaningfull infrastructure.

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

To give a personal perspective, I live about 30 miles from Bristol and would certainly consider Bristol as a place to work. For me, 30 miles is too far for a cycle commute

To give an impersonal perspective, for nearly half the UK population, the commute to work is 3 miles, not 30.

http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/wiki/cycling-not-practical-most-people...

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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Another anti-cyclist who always starts their justifications with "Personally, I am very enthusiastic about cycling....".

From the 2011 Census 55% of part-time workers commute less than 5km, and 38% of full-time workers commute less than 5km.

The most effective method for commuting a distance of around 5km is by bicycle.

Spending £35 million on cycling infrastructure is the most cost effective way of tackling the commuter and congestion problem.

It is a no-brainer.

I would also support train & bus investment, but £35m is chicken feed for significant rail projects. The planning application will cost that, and any build probably 10 to 20 times that.

Ref: ONS census data, 2011, Commuting

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/distance-trave...

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mbrads72 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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pikeamus wrote:

Plus the city centre station involves a non-insignificant walk (about a mile to BS1 on googlemaps) to actually get to the centre. I don't really see anyone choosing to go from driving to using the train without the entire system being replaced.

You're right. I work in BS1 and regularly host visitors from outside the city arriving by train. They invariably get in a taxi.

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mbrads72 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

To give a personal perspective, I live about 30 miles from Bristol and would certainly consider Bristol as a place to work. For me, 30 miles is too far for a cycle commute and as enticing as a metric centry every day might be the travel time would just be too great. I would be able to get a train to Bristol and then ride to my place of work so the presence of a good rail service is actually the key to being able to leave the car at home; the roads might be hostile for cyclists but they aready work.

Before I moved to an eminently cyclable 5 miles from my workplace I too believed cycle commuting into Bristol to be too great a distance. But then I saw a number of hotspots around the circumference of the Bristol urban areas where people were clearly parking their cars, unloading a bike and cycling the last few miles. Same prinicple as your train+bike but requiring no investment in trains and gets around all the lack of convenience arguments above. Worth considering?

On this basis surely allowing cyclists to use the Park & Ride car parks would help? I believe you're supposed to get on a P&R bus and buy a ticket if you use the 'free' P&R car parks...

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dp24 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

Whist I don't agree with Councillor Claire Hiscott I can see her point of view and the logic in her reasoning.

There isn't really any logic though.

She claims the cycling strategy is 'unrealistic' - what exactly does she think £35m is going to get in the way of 'urban rail'? The first phase of Manchester's Metrolink, built 25 years ago, cost £150m for 20 miles of what was primarily conversion (and not a particularly good one in places) of existing heavy rail lines.

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georgee [162 posts] 2 years ago
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Rail supporter in Bristol are still peeved that the bristol to bath cycle path was created 25 years ago on the old railway line, there is a perfectly valid view that this could have been a new train/tram line done but the costs are not in the slightest bit comparable.

This comes back to ambition, London cycling modal share 2% target by 2020 5%, Berlin's target 35%!

Well done Bristol for setting 20%.

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georgee [162 posts] 2 years ago
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please all write to her...

claire.hiscott [at] bristol.gov.uk

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ribena [179 posts] 2 years ago
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With just 965 million pounds extra, on top the existing 35 million, they could have an 8.7 mile long tram system like Edinburgh

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Quince [382 posts] 2 years ago
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Wouldn't providing safe, efficient, quick access to and from Rail Network hubs (for example, via a well thought out inner-city Cycle Network) improve the experience of using the rail system more than tinkering about with the rail system itself?

No matter how shiny and spangly the rail system is, it's redundant unless people can easily access it in the first place. Especially, as a previous poster has noted, if the the main Railway Station and the city centre are already quite far apart.

Or more simply; is providing a safe, efficient and pleasant-to-use city Transport Network not of the upmost priority and needs all the money it can get?

The fact that The Netherlands provides ample evidence that "the reality that cycling will never suit a majority of commuters or provide a solution to Bristol’s traffic congestion" is complete narrow-minded, ignorant balderdash doesn't really help her case either.

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pikeamus [48 posts] 2 years ago
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Quince wrote:

No matter how shiny and spangly the rail system is, it's redundant unless people can easily access it in the first place. Especially, as a previous poster has noted, if the the main Railway Station and the city centre are already quite far apart.

That's well put. Even if they reopened the Henbury loop line in north bristol then that would only bring my current home (on the edge of Westbury-on-trym) to within 1 mile of the nearest station (currently it's 2 miles for me). If I needed to commute to the centre, would I be better off walking a mile, taking a train, then walking another mile on the other end, or just cycling the 4 miles into town? Clearly the second in my opinion: it's both quicker and cheaper.

Now if I wanted to commute to where I actually work (Aztec west business park) I'd have to walk a mile, catch a train, make a change to another train, and then walk over a mile from the nearest station to the business park. Or I can just cycle the 4 miles.

I could hypothetically cycle to the station I guess, but previous experience of being left at the platform because the train was too full makes that seem unattractive as an option, and most people who don't want to cycle 4 miles without any infrustructure improvement wouldn't want to cycle 2 miles either.

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rojre [37 posts] 2 years ago
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Some cycle paths / tracks / lanes are more trouble than they are worth in terms of keeping some fluidity to a ride but ok, some are down right necessary. A lot of money has been wasted creating any little bit of a run for the sake of saying some thing has been done The cycle bridge in Copenhagen on the road cc vid looks great, and there was something like it once for cars back in the 70s and 80s in-between the top end of Victoria Street and Temple Meads. It would be great down around Lewins Mead and the Hay Market.

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levermonkey [664 posts] 2 years ago
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mbrads72 wrote:

On this basis surely allowing cyclists to use the Park & Ride car parks would help? I believe you're supposed to get on a P&R bus and buy a ticket if you use the 'free' P&R car parks...

Now there's a thought.

Just because you've bought a bus ticket doesn't mean you have to use it. Win win situation all round.

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HarrogateSpa [358 posts] 2 years ago
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I've just about had enough of politicians claiming to be in favour of cycling, but doing precisely nothing about funding infrastructure.

Claire Hiscott is a hypocrite, claiming to be enthusiastic about cycling, then trying to derail a good plan to provide proper funding. She is also wrong that cycling cannot suit commuters. In Utrecht, 33% of all journeys are by bike, so why not Bristol? She demonstrates a failure of imagination or research, because she looks around and doesn't see mass cycling, so she assumes it's impossible.

Good on the Bristol mayor. Shame on Claire Hiscott.

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mbrads72 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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levermonkey wrote:
mbrads72 wrote:

On this basis surely allowing cyclists to use the Park & Ride car parks would help? I believe you're supposed to get on a P&R bus and buy a ticket if you use the 'free' P&R car parks...

Now there's a thought.

Just because you've bought a bus ticket doesn't mean you have to use it. Win win situation all round.

Or even 'just because you've parked in the P&R car park doesn't mean you 'have' to buy a bus ticket...'  1

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Redvee [238 posts] 2 years ago
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Mr Agreeable wrote:

although you can still see signs of what used to be, like the old power station at Finzel's Reach, now being converted into trendy flats.

Thought it was an old Courage Brewery, not a power station.

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MuddyPete [4 posts] 2 years ago
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Sounds like the prospective Tory MP is seriously "off message". Last year the DfT set up the Transport Systems Catapult (https://ts.catapult.org.uk/10-challenges) to integrate modes of transport and make travel slicker for everyone.

Bristol sounds like an ideal candidate for a bit of government & EU transport systems funding.

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Leviathan [1986 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

I'll tell you what, Give her the £35 million to spend on rail. So long as cycling can take a couple of BILLION from the white elephant that is HS2.....

The HS2 will be passing within 200m of here, thats right under Palatine Road [birth place of Factory Records.] Just cause it isn't near your gaff doesn't make it a white elephant. Why not vote for the Scottish Government to pay for an extension from Newcastle to Edingow?

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