Update: Bristol to remove parking bays that replaced National Cycle Network bike lane

Deputy mayor concedes "we got this wrong"

by John Stevenson   October 8, 2013  

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

Bristol City Council has replaced a bike lane that’s part of the National Cycle Network with five car parking spaces that are expected to earn the council £20,000 per year in charges. And then changed its mind - see the update at the foot of this story.

Blogger ‘wheelsonthebike’ reports that at a recent meeting of the Bristol Cycle Forum, Terry Bullock, Bristol City Council’s traffic manager said that a section of lane on Colston Street had been replaced with the five parking spaces in August.

Mr Bullock was speaking as part of a discussion of Bristol Cycling Campaigns ‘Stop Pinching Bikes’ campaign which is attempting to get the council to implement proper quality assurance on road schemes so they do not create pinch points that endanger cyclists.

The new parking spaces on Colston Street are opposite a bus stop and the combination of parked cars and a stopped bus creates a pinch point that forces cyclists riding uphill out into the traffic.

Mr Bullock said that mistakes had been made before the quality assurance process had been fully implemented but said that things were improving.

Wheelsonthebike claims that the council’s actions are not matching its words.

Responding to Bristol Cycling Campaign's concern about pinch points in the city, Alistair Cox, Bristol’s city transport service manager wrote to Martin McDonnell of the campaign in July to say:

“It is of course not council policy to narrow a road to the extent that it disadvantages cycling, neither to expect cycling to share roads with heavy and fast traffic nor to build facilities that are obstructed by parked vehicles. It is completely understood that such conditions are a serious barrier to cycling by all except the few swift and brave enough to ‘take the lane’. These features can never form part of a comprehensive network suitable for all 8-80 years and it is our intention to build such a network.”

Update: Bristol backtracks

In response to a reader drawing this story to his attention, Bristol deputy mayor Mark Bradshaw this afternoon tweeted "we got this wrong re Colston St & I've asked for the pay & display bays to be removed."

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

well now there's a surprise .... cycle lane or parking cash ... Thinking

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [914 posts]
8th October 2013 - 11:16

13 Likes

Facepalm

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [189 posts]
8th October 2013 - 11:17

18 Likes

Very disapointing reading.

posted by Matt eaton [674 posts]
8th October 2013 - 11:49

14 Likes

posted by Faroon [22 posts]
8th October 2013 - 12:29

17 Likes

All too often cycling is seen as sport or leisure, but not as serious Transport, this is the fundamental problem. Cars are seen as transport, even though they are the most inefficient form of urban transport ever invented. Until we start to seriously promote the bicycle as transport, which can be used by everyone, this sort of thing will continue...

posted by Kim [194 posts]
8th October 2013 - 12:43

15 Likes

Bristol Cycling Campaign is probably up there with Cambridge and Oxford for promoting cycling as transport. Sustrans started there, even if some of their recent officer outbursts seem more Suspicious of Transport cycling (=safely but at a reasonable speed) than Sustainable Transport! There's a bike-friendly mayor. Now if only the Councils that Used to Be Avon (CUBA) could get kicked into line and stop doing stupid contradictory things like this!

posted by a.jumper [802 posts]
8th October 2013 - 12:57

19 Likes

Easy, just cycle in the road and cause congestion. The more cyclist, the slower the traffic gets...better all round as driving folk will realise and get on their rusty Halford Apollo's and do the same.

We're all entitled to a reasonable opinion!

posted by Guyz2010 [298 posts]
8th October 2013 - 12:58

10 Likes

My gast was well and truly flabbered when the man from the Council admitted this. His defence of the decision was dogged - apparently the income from the spaces is very useful and it could even be used to improve cycling elsewhere in the city At Wits End .

The lane was on a really popular route for cyclists and is in fact part of Sustrans route 4.

posted by Bristolbybike [12 posts]
8th October 2013 - 13:08

12 Likes

Does anybody take Sustrans seriously anymore?

Can anybody take Sustrans seriously anymore?

posted by farrell [1839 posts]
8th October 2013 - 13:22

13 Likes

Actually I don't think it will cause too many problems on this part of Colston Street. The road is wide enough there and I have never needed to ride up it on the far left. As a cyclist you normally get a clear run up the middle of it with no cars ahead of or behind you.

posted by chokofingrz [386 posts]
8th October 2013 - 13:57

4 Likes

chokofingrz wrote:
Actually I don't think it will cause too many problems on this part of Colston Street. The road is wide enough there and I have never needed to ride up it on the far left. As a cyclist you normally get a clear run up the middle of it with no cars ahead of or behind you.

It's really more of a political issue than a practical one. Replacing cycle infrastructure with car parking sends a certain message about the political priorities of the local authority. In reality, most people reading this will be confident road cyclists (ie confident on the roads, not necesarily roadies) and riding on the road, taking the lane etc. is not much of a problem and these changes won't affect them much.

It's all about perception and this sort of cycle infrastructure serves to make many people feel safer. I always say it but think about the school run mum with the bike trailer and 5 year old riding along side and consider if the infrastructure is suitable for them.

posted by Matt eaton [674 posts]
8th October 2013 - 14:20

16 Likes

posted by Mr Agreeable [160 posts]
8th October 2013 - 16:02

10 Likes

Applause

posted by Ad Hynkel [64 posts]
8th October 2013 - 17:18

10 Likes

I was under the impression that NCN routes had some legal status and could not just be deleted willy nilly. Rather they must be rerouted. Has this happened in this case?

andybwhite's picture

posted by andybwhite [241 posts]
8th October 2013 - 18:40

11 Likes

Presumably the NCN Route 4 continued and it's just the cycle lane that has been erased. NCN Routes go through all sorts of madness, as I'm sure Warrington Cycle Campaign has highlighted in their long-running Facility of the Month series. This (temporary?) loss just below Sustrans's HQ is particularly bad, though.

posted by a.jumper [802 posts]
8th October 2013 - 19:47

4 Likes

farrell wrote:
Does anybody take Sustrans seriously anymore?

Can anybody take Sustrans seriously anymore?

I never have, the NCN around Surrey is a joke.

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
8th October 2013 - 21:36

9 Likes

chokofingrz wrote:
Actually I don't think it will cause too many problems on this part of Colston Street. The road is wide enough there and I have never needed to ride up it on the far left. As a cyclist you normally get a clear run up the middle of it with no cars ahead of or behind you.

The addition of parking spaces means that one now has to move out into the flow of traffic to get around the cars leaving car-door space as you go. Not always an easy manoeuvre especially on what is not a quiet road (at least it isn't when I've used it) and local authorities should be aiming to make life easier for cyclists not harder.

posted by Bristolbybike [12 posts]
9th October 2013 - 12:48

9 Likes

I'm with you on this. I don't see what the fuss is about. Colston Street has never been a problem to cycle up or down regardless of these spaces.

Whiteladies Road on the other hand is a right mess now.

posted by egb [43 posts]
9th October 2013 - 13:30

7 Likes

Regardless of your view on Sustrans, what does it say about this country that for years the need for and, often, implementation of a cycle network has been lead by a charity? Not the government who you'd think would have an interest in reducing congestion, environmental impact and a growing health problem for the NHS to deal with.

Every Sustrans person I've ever dealt with actually rides a bike. For all purposes, in all conditions. Unlike the local authority engineers who design highway schemes, local councillors who make the decisions and the embarrassing embodiment of modern life that is MP Eric Pickles.

At least Bristol have the ability to compare existing cycle facilities with parking. Most of us don't yet have that luxury.

Well done all those in Bristol for putting this right and, yes, that includes any councillor for admitting they were wrong as that is a rare quality in politics.

posted by Big Les Wade [5 posts]
9th October 2013 - 15:12

8 Likes