Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Conflict resolution - can it tackle cycling-motoring tensions in Bristol?

Bristol mediation hopes to help road users be more 'mindful' of one another, but won't discuss the evidence behind using conflict resolution on the roads...

A company more used to resolving neighbour disputes has turned its attention to Bristol's roads in a bid to ease tensions between people in cars and those on bikes.

Launched in June, the Road Sharing Restorative Approach Programme is running a consultation, at a cost of £10,000, on why the city can be such a hostile place to travel. 

The Bristol Mediation Group (BMG) is talking to those who drive, those who cycle, parents, disabled people, teenagers, taxi drivers and lorry drivers. It hopes understanding the issues will help get more people on two wheels during Bristol's year as 2015 European Green CapitalHowever, when asked by for evidence behind using conflict resolution methods on a large scale the BMG refused, due to recent "distorted reporting" of the programme by the media. 

Bristol bike lane bollards: "If they're stopping cars they're doing their job"

Annali Grimes, one of two co-ordinators of the Road Sharing Restorative Approach consultation, told the Bristol Post: "What we are doing is promoting a non-confrontational, restorative approach to the issues we have surrounding our road usage in Bristol.

"This is something which affects every single person in the city from parents who are too scared to let their children walk to school because of traffic, to people who do not want to take public transport because of the cost and reliability factors.

She told the Post the project, which is being funded by Safer Bristol, a police and council partnership, is about looking at the wider picture. She said "everyone contributes to the problem and everyone is a victim", from those who drive their cars too fast to those who cycle on pavements.

However, when asked by to comment on the potential effectiveness of such interventions on a wider population and for evidence of its effectiveness, Grimes refused to give details. She would not comment on whether she believed infrastructure was a contributing factor in tensions on the roads, and only said due to some media outlets publishing "very distorted versions of the project, resulting in adverse publicity for Bristol Mediation and Bristol City Council" the group would not comment until the project had finished.

She said: "We are therefore not engaging with any more media contacts until the project publishes its report in March 2016." 

A debate will be held on the consultation in February, after which a report will be submitted, offering solutions to some problems, one of which, Grimes says, could be teaching lollipop ladies and men conflict resolution skills. Grimes told the Post she hopes the outcome will be greater mindfulness, empathy and respect between road users.

In Bristol air pollution kills around 200 people per year with a post-war road system that favours mass movement of motor traffic. Bristol is also the most congested city in the country, but in 2013 and 2014 the city received millions of pounds to spend on cycling from government grants.

Latest Comments