Green Councillors have accused the Council’s Labour administration of presiding over a catalogue of failures in cycling and active travel which they say is making the city unsafe for cyclists, risking the council’s future transport funding, and contributing to the city’s persistent traffic problems by discouraging people from switching away from private cars.
After promising to look again at a controversial diversion put in place for the Concorde way cycle path in, the Mayor has since confirmed to local councillors that he won’t be making any changes, saying he prioritised keeping local parking spaces over a safe cycle route on busy Muller road and the planned bus lane (that does not yet exist) “remains the key modal shift to support developments in Lockleaze”. In his response the Mayor said “the diversion for cyclists, while not optimal, does provide an alternative route.”
A local resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told local Green Councillor Heather Mack:
“I am not able to cycle with my two year old daughter as the redirection route is literally not possible. We do not feel safe on Muller Road with the other cars, as there is no space for a bike and we cannot fit around the cycle restrictors on boiling wells lane as the turning circle is restricted by the bike seat on the handlebars. Also the dirt and mushed leaves along with how steep it is means it is not safe with the extra weight on my bike. We used the Concorde Way weekly and are now being forced to drive.”
David Wilcox, Lockleaze councillor and co-shadow cabinet member for Transport and Active Travel, said:
“Of course Greens support the new train station but the diversion of Concorde Way is not fit for purpose. It brings pedestrians and cyclists into conflict on a shared pavement and through Boiling Wells cyclists must dismount because it’s so steep. If we’re going to reduce traffic and tackle the Climate Emergency, we need to be making it easier, not harder, for people to walk and cycle to work. This diversion – which is expected to be in place until at least November – undermines the Council’s own policy aims and will only encourage more people to drive, causing more pollution and congestion for all of us.”
The Green Councillors say Labour’s track record on transport is reflected by a cars-first attitude that “belongs in the 1960s” which has left Bristol falling behind other core cities and led to worsening traffic as the city’s narrow and crowded streets are filled with private cars, and could result in the city getting less funding for transport schemes in the future. The opposition councillors pointed to a long list of issues they say demonstrate this lack of ambition on transport, including failures to improve dangerous cycling infrastructure, removal of bike lanes and failure to maintain them, Labour plans to remove transport design powers, poor parking enforcement and a limited rollout of new cycle hangars (see full list in notes below).
Group Leader Emma Edwards, who shares the shadow cabinet role with David, said:
“The failure to address this dangerous diversion for Concorde is part of a worrying trend we have seen of late, with this Labour Administration not only not improving things for cycling in Bristol, but in many instances actively making things worse. Far too many decisions by Bristol Labour – whether it’s removing cycle lanes, projects that don’t meet official standards (risking future funding), or simply dragging their heels on basics like new bike hangars – seem calculated to show contempt for cycling and walking.
“The Concorde way diversion is merely the latest in a long list of similar issues that this Labour administration have presided over – just last week they decided to re-open a pedestrianised road to through traffic, ignoring the council’s own policies to put cars before pedestrians and cyclists. And the Mayor’s plans to scrap key transport and city design teams and hand those powers to WECA risks completely taking away our city’s ability to implement its own walking and cycling schemes in the future, which could make matters worse.”
“Labour’s car-centric approach belongs in the 1960s – it’s getting us nowhere fast. With our buses in a state of near-collapse, and constant steps backwards on active travel, it’s not surprising Bristol is consistently one of the worst UK cities for traffic under this administration. Our city deserves better.”
List of active travel issues raised by Greens: