Bristol councillor says £35m set aside for cycling would be better spent on rail

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

by Simon_MacMichael   July 16, 2014  

Better Cycle infrastructure in Bristol (CC licenced by tejvanphotos:Flickr)

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.

41 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

“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.

posted by HKCambridge [140 posts]
16th July 2014 - 11:45

76 Likes

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.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
16th July 2014 - 11:53

63 Likes

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...

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
16th July 2014 - 12:18

60 Likes

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...

posted by seanbolton [139 posts]
16th July 2014 - 12:19

67 Likes

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.

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
16th July 2014 - 12:57

37 Likes

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...

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
16th July 2014 - 13:04

67 Likes

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.

posted by dp24 [191 posts]
16th July 2014 - 13:07

57 Likes

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%.

posted by georgee [139 posts]
16th July 2014 - 13:19

56 Likes

please all write to her...

claire.hiscott@bristol.gov.uk

posted by georgee [139 posts]
16th July 2014 - 13:20

38 Likes

With just 965 million pounds extra, on top the existing 35 million, they could have an 8.7 mile long tram system like Edinburgh

posted by ribena [140 posts]
16th July 2014 - 13:45

53 Likes

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.

posted by Quince [146 posts]
16th July 2014 - 14:32

63 Likes

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.

posted by pikeamus [32 posts]
16th July 2014 - 15:15

59 Likes

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.

posted by rojre [21 posts]
16th July 2014 - 16:15

35 Likes

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.

posted by levermonkey [368 posts]
16th July 2014 - 17:36

41 Likes

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.

posted by HarrogateSpa [95 posts]
16th July 2014 - 20:45

38 Likes

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...' Smile

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
16th July 2014 - 22:48

25 Likes

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.

Redvee's picture

posted by Redvee [70 posts]
16th July 2014 - 23:10

26 Likes

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.

posted by MuddyPete [3 posts]
16th July 2014 - 23:21

19 Likes

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?



Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1294 posts]
16th July 2014 - 23:56

23 Likes

Quote:
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.

Maybe they could consider spending a couple of hundred quid on a plane ticket for Councillor Hiscott to visit Copenhagen, to see how much worse investing in cycling infrastructure makes a city Rolling Eyes

posted by graham_f [96 posts]
17th July 2014 - 8:46

16 Likes

The new rail station in my home city will have a big underground bicycle parking, with a direct stair connection to the rail platforms. Of course, this is not in the UK, but in The Netherlands, where we know that cycling is complementary to rail.
Old city bike at one end, another old one at the other. Voila. Your commutes just got a ton faster, since you don't need to use the bus or walk.

posted by Aapje [168 posts]
17th July 2014 - 9:45

11 Likes

Redvee wrote:

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

I'm pretty sure the big square building on the corner is the old generating station.

http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-379462-former-tramway-generat...

You can also see some of the tram tracks in Castle Park, near the fountain.

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
17th July 2014 - 10:19

10 Likes

Aapje wrote:
The new rail station in my home city will have a big underground bicycle parking, with a direct stair connection to the rail platforms. Of course, this is not in the UK, but in The Netherlands, where we know that cycling is complementary to rail.
Old city bike at one end, another old one at the other. Voila. Your commutes just got a ton faster, since you don't need to use the bus or walk.

In the UK, at a minor station, you are lucky if there is any bike parking. Most trains around bristol are fitted out to allow either 2 or 4 bikes, but that actual range of how many may be let on is probably between 0 and 8, depending on how busy the route and how flexible the conductor is. Zero happened more often than 8 on my old route.

Also, I used the "secure overnight" bike parking at a station in Bristol once, to lock up a cheap, 15 year old, bright pink, bike. I did this because it was snowing so heavily that I didn't feel safe riding it home. It was gone the following morning. Sigh.

posted by pikeamus [32 posts]
17th July 2014 - 10:44

13 Likes

pikeamus wrote:
Aapje wrote:
The new rail station in my home city will have a big underground bicycle parking, with a direct stair connection to the rail platforms. Of course, this is not in the UK, but in The Netherlands, where we know that cycling is complementary to rail.
Old city bike at one end, another old one at the other. Voila. Your commutes just got a ton faster, since you don't need to use the bus or walk.

In the UK, at a minor station, you are lucky if there is any bike parking. Most trains around bristol are fitted out to allow either 2 or 4 bikes, but that actual range of how many may be let on is probably between 0 and 8, depending on how busy the route and how flexible the conductor is. Zero happened more often than 8 on my old route.

Also, I used the "secure overnight" bike parking at a station in Bristol once, to lock up a cheap, 15 year old, bright pink, bike. I did this because it was snowing so heavily that I didn't feel safe riding it home. It was gone the following morning. Sigh.

For the UK I think that folding bikes are the best bet for cycle/rail travel. They also overcome the problem of limited parking facilities at your place of work and if it comes to the crunch can be taken on buses or taxis.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
17th July 2014 - 11:09

14 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:
For the UK I think that folding bikes are the best bet for cycle/rail travel. They also overcome the problem of limited parking facilities at your place of work and if it comes to the crunch can be taken on buses or taxis.

Agreed, but the reason I was using that particular bike at the time was because it was free (my mum's old bike) and money was tight. Folding bike's can be a bit too much of an expense for some people (especially if they are paying through the nose for the train fares).

posted by pikeamus [32 posts]
17th July 2014 - 13:17

5 Likes

In an ideal world it woudn't be a problem to take a regular bike on the train and I wish the operators would get thier act together in this respect. Folders can be costly and it's not easy to pick up a decent one second-hand for a small sum in the same way that it is with regular bikes.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
17th July 2014 - 13:41

8 Likes

Mr Agreeable wrote:
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/

BRT2 wants to land grab the bridge by the Create Centre. Also known as "the only bridge to get you from the Pill Path onto the Chocolate Path", also known as "part of the grand Festival Way". Cycle paths are seen as an easy target - god forbid that any roads are sacrificed...

posted by brooksby [115 posts]
17th July 2014 - 13:46

8 Likes

Mr Agreeable wrote:
Redvee wrote:

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

I'm pretty sure the big square building on the corner is the old generating station.

http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-379462-former-tramway-generat...

You can also see some of the tram tracks in Castle Park, near the fountain.

The Finzel's Reach development was only a success because the developer went to the council and said "You know all that section 106 money we said we'd spend on infrastructure around our shiny new development? Here's the thing, if we actually spend that then the development won't be profitable so we might as well throw in thr towel and not bother." Bristol CC promptly said, "Well, OK, then, don't bother paying for the additional infrastructure, that can just come out of the council's budget." and lo and behold, the development got finished. (Allegedly).

posted by brooksby [115 posts]
17th July 2014 - 13:50

6 Likes

Surely if you get a load of commuters off the roads onto trains, that would leave more room for cyclists?

In Guildford there is a network of rail tracks but only one station in town and one on a branch line. It has been suggested many times for at least 30 years (I know 'cos I did in the local paper) that stations be built along the various branch lines on the periphery of the town and extinct lines re-opened to bring people into town.

posted by bobdelamare [19 posts]
18th July 2014 - 20:49

1 Like

Well how about spending some of the £35 million on putting guards wagons back on trains ?.

Going by bike on a train is a right PITA, and near impossible during the rush hour even with a Brompton so only the most die hard cyclists even attempt it.

A proper guards wagon (or cycle carriage!) setup for easy and quick on off bike access would encourage more bikes onto trains.

For those not old enough to remember, guards wagons were special carriages where freight, bikes etc were loaded and also where the guard used to eat his sarnies.

posted by BigglesMeister [17 posts]
19th July 2014 - 11:18

2 Likes