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Thursday, 14th Aug 2014 by Charlie Bolton

Cycling strategy response

Overall, we welcome the Cycling strategy along with the Bristol Cycling Campaign strategy as a positive contribution to helping the growth in cycling. 

However, it has little detail on where future funding will come from, largely just listing existing projects, and lacks a considerable amount of detail as to how it will be achieved. We would like to see a clear and detailed explanation of how the strategy intends to achieve the growth it hopes to see.

The causes of growth in cycling are complex. We believe that having a comprehensive cycle network will help fuel growth in cycling, but needs to be combined with people-based measures which help individuals to start and to keep cycling. We are concerned that the emphasis in the strategy is too much on infrastructure, and not enough on the other.

Cycling in context

The generally accepted hierarchy to be followed is

  • Walking – most important
  • Cycling
  • Bus/trains/Water transport
  • Taxis/Shared car journeys
  • Single car journeys – least important

However, this needs to be put in context. We believe that we need to maximise the numbers of people who cycle, and should set up the infrastructure and support systems to make this happen. This does not however mean that cycling takes precedence over other forms of sustainable transport (bus, train, walking) but we should seek solutions which work for all modes – and there will be occasions where a significant public transport project would take precedence over cycling).

It should also be noted that support for cycling is not ‘carte blanche’ to concrete over green space within the city. We also look forward to seeing a comprehensive walking strategy for the city.

Cycling network

It is clear that having a comprehensive cycling network is an important part of delivering increased levels of cycling. Having segregated cycle routes is a better experience for all levels of cyclist and will both encourage more people to cycle and to encourage cyclists to cycle more often.

The quality of cycling infrastructure is important.

A key feature has to be minimising the number of junctions with other road users (but especially cars, of course).  Where junctions are required, they must be obvious.

Width of cycle lanes should not be compromised.

Longer term

In the longer term, recognition needs to be given to the fact that there are different types of cyclists – specifically some who go much more quickly than others. Infrastructure may need to be added to accommodate both categories).

However it should be noted that it will be impossible to have a wholly car-free routes in the near future so other measures will be necessary to help people cycle in with other traffic.

Existing road system

Accepting that cyclists will inevitably need to cycle for some part of their journey on road. This means that we need to ensure that the road surface, particularly the bit used by cyclists is in  good condition. Cyclists have enough to be aware of on-road with all the traffic without needing to have to look down to avoid potholes. Any strategy should therefore reflect this.

Other measures

Training for all

A key part of having a cycling culture is to make sure the next generation of cyclists get started. Bikeability training should be given to all children. The mayor should lobby government to ensure it is part of the curriculum, and the council should have a strategy to get all children cycling, and certainly for them all to have cycle training. This is likely to have a consequence in terms of needing a bigger budget. Likewise, to double the numbers of cyclists, it is likely that there will be a need to double the number of adults receiving  cycle training.

Cycling should be inclusive

The majority of cyclists are white middle class men. Specific projects should be set up or extended which encourage those from other groups, including (obviously) women and those from bme communities to cycle.

Cycling should be accessible

Measures should be taken to ensure that those on low incomes should have access to cycling. Schemes which enable this (such as at the Bristol Bike Project  Earn-a-bike project or Life Cycle’s Bike Back scheme) should be supported.

Cycling should be lifelong

We are pleased to see reference to ‘Target cycle promotion at those at a point of life transition– we agree that measures should be taken to start people cycling but also to keep them cycling.

Importance of cycle parking

It is vital that we continue to increase the supply of cycle parking to meet the increasing demand for cycling. This should be both on and off the public highway, for business and for residents. If levels of cycling are to double, there is  a need to double – or at least significantly increase - the supply of places to securely park bicycles around the city.

The council should also be producing guidance for producing the best solutions for new  developments and the existing housing stock, and offering cycle parking solutions within residential areas.

Celebrating and supporting existing cycling projects

There are many community and grass roots organisations who contribute to Bristol’s cycling culture. The council should both celebrate these and support them. It’s role should be to enable them to carry on.

Identifying the needs/views  of all parts of the cycling community

It is not clear that the bike shops or bike clubs have been consulted or included in this strategy. If not, they should be contacted and their views sort.

Respect

It is clear that there are some issues with some cyclists regarding cycling on pavements and through red lights. We believe all people should treat all others with respect – and this includes cyclists. It is suggested however that a top-down imposition of ‘respect’ simply won’t work – an approach the other way round might.

Enforcement

All road users should be subject to the same level of enforcement by the Police. Last winter there was a major campaign by the Police to fining cyclists without lights, going through Red lights and anti social pavement cycling. This was not matched by fining of motorists in ASL's and a zero tolerance of mobile phone use. 

For all road users to respect each other, they also need to expect the same likelihood of enforcement against them regardless of their mode of travel.

Clearly, the police need to be major stake holders in such a strategy.

‘Normalising’ cycling excellence in all infrastructure projects

We are aware of the campaign run by Bristol Cycling campaign 'Stop pinching bikes' .

http://www.bristolcyclingcampaign.org.uk/campaign/infrastructure/127-stop-pinching-bikes

This campaign highlights features of highway design implemented by the council which make cycling more difficult. We believe the strategy should include processes to ensure cycling is not hindered(and should be helped) by other infrastructure decisions .

Commissioner and team

We believe there is a case for having a ‘Cycling commissioner’. There is definitely a need for a team to implement a cycling strategy.

Openness

The council should have a culture of cooperating with and being open with the cycling community.

Expenditure

We agree that levels of expenditure should be increased significantly in order to deliver a comprehensive cycling network and the softer measures.

Conclusion

We have made a number of comments on the strategy, some of which may be seen as criticisms. However,  we stress that we support the overall aim of the strategy and welcome its production.

Friday, 14th Feb 2014 by Charlie Bolton

Letter to the editor: Cycling in Amsterdam

Dear Sir

I note that Tory councillor Richard Eddy describes cyclists as 'afflicted with a sense of self-righteousness, superiority and entitlement' (the Post letters, 'Cyclists behave badly in Amsterdam as well', 11/2/14). I was surprised, because I thought the Tories had cornered the market in those particular attributes.

He further describes a friend whose visit to Amsterdam was a 'confusing mix of users ( tram lanes, buses, cars and bikes)'. Well, I can only recall my own experience of visiting Amsterdam. The trams were fun, the cycling pleasurable, the infrastructure good to see, the cyclists - there were lots of them. Overall I had a great time.

As far as I'm concerned, having an extensive cycle network in Bristol, combined with policies to maximise levels of cycling is exactly what Bristol needs to do. But more pertinently,  I would point out that we could introduce an entire cycle network for the whole of Bristol for less than the price of the a couple of the proposed bus rapid transit schemes - and to do so would have far greater benefits for the city as a whole.

Yours

Charlie Bolton
Green Party candidate
Southville

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