A year ago the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) declared a climate emergency after pressure from activists and Greens, pledging to invest in cleaner transport and make the region carbon neutral by 2030. The move was welcomed by Bristol’s Green councillors and met with a standing ovation and cheers from the public gallery.
A year on, Green councillors say WECA must “walk the walk not just talk the talk” to deliver on its climate and transport promises. They have said they are disappointed that WECAs cycling and infrastructure plan “lacks urgency and ambition”.
Councillor Martin Fodor said:
“WECAs cycling and walking plan is a missed opportunity that lacks urgency or ambition. Yes the plans are a step in the right direction, but they are woefully inadequate considering the scale of the emergency we face. Some of the changes will not be in place for another sixteen years – by that time today’s five year olds will be twenty one. They will have grown up without the infrastructure so desperately needed to move people out of cars and into active travel.”
“The most recent reports to Bristol City Council notes that transport contributes 539kt CO2e annually to Bristol’s carbon emissions. However, this figure has decreased over the lockdown period. If we want to maintain these lower levels of CO2, then WECA’s changes to cycling and walking infrastructure needs a serious boost, and as I said to them in a statement in March they need to redirect the massive roadbuilding budget that will take us further in the wrong direction.”
Councillor Jerome Thomas said:
“Lockdown has seen fewer cars on the streets and more people than ever get on their bikes for the first time or start walking. This is a window of opportunity to help make our roads safer and more inviting to walkers and cyclists. I am disappointed that action hasn’t been taken with greater urgency and urge WECA to show more ambition – they should walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”
“We need a city and region where there are safe and integrated cycling and walking routes. Where people feel comfortable walking to work and teaching their kids how to ride a bike. We must prioritise space on roads for cyclists and pedestrians over space for cars, in order that people feel more confident walking and cycling.”
“Shifting away from car use is crucial if we are to address the climate emergency we face, but to do so we need those in power to show real leadership and action not just words.”