New Bristol Cycling City boss gives some facts about the figures plus promise of openness

… like Bristol included money already being spent in the match funding totals

by Rebecca McIlhone   March 27, 2009  

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Criticism of Bristol's progress as England's first Cycling City have been met with a pledge of more openness and accountablility from the City Council.

The commitment is made by Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Rogers, Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability, who took over from Labour’s Mark Bradshaw after the Labour group sensationally quit at the end of February.

In an interview with road.cc he sets out in the way he intends to continue by admitting the total Cycling City investment of £22.8million over three years actually comprises just £14.4 million of new money. 

The £22.8million total comprises £11.4 million from Cycling England plus £11.4 million match funding from Bristol City and South Gloucestershire County Councils. But the match funding takes into account several existing projects and actually comprises just £3 million in extra cash.

Cllr Rogers told road.cc: “There was work already going on on a number of projects. They were all part of the original bid. The additional money that Bristol and South Gloucestershire have had to achieve is somewhere around £3million new money.”

The investment is intended to pay for improvements to cycling services and infrastructure with the aim of doubling the number of people cycling in the Greater Bristol area by the June 2011 deadline. This includes the creation of 13 miles of new track, 18 miles of improvements to existing off-road track and 21 miles of improvements to on-road cycle routes into the city.

However, road.cc reported that since Bristol became England’s first Cycling City, progress has seemed slow. It was six months before the council advertised for a project manager and that post has just been filled by Ed Plowden, who took over from interim project manager John Roy two weeks ago.

Cllr Rogers says one of the first things he has done is call for an earlier April review of the closure of one side of the Prince Street swing bridge in Bristol making it accessible to pedestrians and cyclists only. There have been questions over whether this is of any benefit to cyclists, and problems with cyclists having to cross the traffic to access it.

Cycle campaigner Chris Hutt this week levelled more criticism at the project as a whole after analysing the proposals in detail on the GreenBristolBlog. Having waded through a list of PDFs on the council’s website about specific elements of the plans, he identifies only a few of potential benefit to cyclists.

Cllr Rogers commended Hutt for speaking out over the plans. He said: “The general view seems to be we let people know what we want them to know. People like Chris Hutt have encouraged that by Freedom of Information requests which shouldn’t be necessary with something as positive and important as Cycling City.

“Hopefully you’ll see a higher profile and a clearer statement of what it is we’re trying to achieve,” he said.

“The objective is clear. We’re trying to double the number of cyclists on Bristol’s roads and cycle paths in two-and-a-half years by creating safer cycling and improving the infrastructure, training in schools and developing work place travel plans.”

A full list of proposed infrastructure schemes for Bristol can be found here

For regular updates on Bristol's Cycling City plans email cycling.city@bristol.gov.uk

4 user comments

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Chris Hutt's piece is well worth reading, imo.

As I've said before, councils can't do this alone - if there's a genuine wish to make would be cyclists feel safer, they have to start punishing drivers who overtake closely, exceed speed limits, ignore ASLs etc etc.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [413 posts]
27th March 2009 - 14:54

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Thanks Rebecca

You attribute to me more knowledge than I claim for the funding streams, but certainly a number of the projects pre-date the winning of the Cycling City bid.

Although I was not involved in that bid (which was submitted with cross-party and cross unitary authority support in Spring 2008) I am aware that the success of the bid was partly attributed to the clear aspirations already present in Bristol and South Gloucester to encourage and promote cycling.

That vision was shared by many residents, businesses and local and national organisations.

I had a positive meeting with Cycling England chairman Phillip Darnton this morning. He has great enthusiasm tempered with realistic wisdom! I liked his description of an "interdependent relationship" with the DfT, preferring "interested people" rather than "stakeholders" and "taking part not taking sides"!

I want to see more "taking part" and less "taking sides" in Bristol! Chris H please note! Jon

Cllr Jon Rogers

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posted by Jon Rogers [3 posts]
27th March 2009 - 21:03

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Just checked out the original Press Release Feb 5th 2009 from the Council unveiling their "big plan"...

"Cycling England awarded £11.4 million to Bristol and South Gloucestershire Councils which is matched by the authorities’ existing financial commitment to cycling bringing the total to £22.8 million."

My bold

Have a good weekend one and all.

Jon

Cllr Jon Rogers

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posted by Jon Rogers [3 posts]
27th March 2009 - 21:13

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Jon, the Bristol City Council Press release of June 2008 says "This funding (£11.4 million) will be matched by Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils and their partners creating a total scheme value of £22.8 million over the next two and a half years".

That seems to imply that that is the total amount of new money. At least that is what the local media seemed to think if you look at contemporaneous reports.

As for "taking part not taking sides", I've always taken the side of the city's cyclists, but the Council seem to dismiss them (us) as unimportant because we're already cycling. It's that attitude on the part of the Council and indeed Cycling England that has caused so much disquiet among cycling interests.

Up until now the Council have gone out of their way to restrict involvement, or "taking part", by cycling interests as I think you know. If that's now changing then we'll see what overtures the Council make.

posted by Chris Hutt [1 posts]
29th March 2009 - 20:09

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