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News from the world of Bristol cycling. You might also want to look at the BristolCycling Reddit social news aggregation site. Our Blog has opinion pieces. The best way to keep up to date is to subscribe to our e-News mailing list. Past issues can be found here

Would you like to see what Space for Cycling looks like?

Since 2006, many hundreds of transport planners, campaigners, cycling co-ordinators, politicians and interested individuals have learnt about cycling and infrastructure for cycling in the Netherlands on cycling Study Tours organised by David Hembrow.

BCyC organised our first tour in 2014, and now we’re going back. This is for anyone interested in learning what works from those who’ve already made most of the mistakes! It is particularly recommended for those wanting to refresh their energy and interest in how a focus on cycling as a mass transit system delivers benefits for everyone.

What do you get from it?

The tour is based in Assen with some of the best cycling provision in the Netherlands.  The final day is a visit to see how Groningen, a city very alike to Bristol, went from car choked in the 1970s to the cycling capital of the world.

In the late 1970s Groningen was much like Bristol is now, with cars ruling the road and cyclists condemned to the gutter.

Experience the bad as well as the good infrastructure, including ‘the most dangerous junction in the Netherlands for all users’. The Netherlands isn’t perfect, so learn from their mistakes — Bristol continues to repeat them!

Who is it for?

The short answer is, anyone with an interest in how Bristol could become more people friendly. It's not just about cycling, nor is it just for those with a technical or professional interest. On our last tour there were a couple of cycle campaigners, a council cycling officer, someone with a particular interest in travel to school - and someone who just came along for the ride and didn't expect to be quite as interested as they were!  We can promise you that everyone will get something, and most will get a lot!

The tour

David Hembrow says “Our tour really is a tour. A short presentation explains some aspects of what we look at and offers a chance to present questions in a more formal setting. However, because

Download this file (Informationfor2016DutchStudyTourV2.pdf)Informationfor2016DutchStudyTourV2.pdf[Briefing Sheet for BCyC Dutch Study Tour 2016]431 kB

We strongly recommend watching the whole 14 minutes or so about the much loved Bristol to Pill path. Lots of separate issues are raised. As a one-person effort by Andy Price it's pretty impressive and deserves a wide audience. We'll be doing what we can to get the issues up the list of priorities of North Somerset Council, Bristol Council, and Sustrans.

Following a hard fought campaign Space for Cycling emerged as the clear winner of the Bristol 2016 elections, securing not only the mayoralty, but also 63% of all the Councillors.

Mayor Marvin Rees (who also represents Labour) said "I support cycling. Not only does it have obvious health benefits in keeping people fit and improving the air quality, but it has social benefits too, getting people out and about, talking to each other, experiencing life."

Following a very positive meeting with BCyC about the S4C Manifesto for Mayoral Candidates before the election, Mayor Marvin was absolutely resolute in saying, "I want to make cycling an ordinary part of everyday life. That means safety and space on roads. It also means developing the image of cycling and changing the nature of the conversation from competitive to co-operative."

Just like most of the tens of thousands of people who ride everyday in and around Bristol, Mayor Marvin said, "I ride my bike everywhere but do not describe myself as a cyclist. And I do not want pedestrians pitted against cyclists who are pitted against car drivers. We all inhabit the same city and should work together to make Bristol better for everyone."

In taking up the challenge of making Bristol a great cycling city he will have the strong support of a new Council dominated by Space for Cycling councillors. In fact, 45 of the 70 councillors are part of Space for Cycling, with 23 also representing Labour, 11 representing Greens, 8 Liberal Democrats, and 4 Conservatives.

Elected Councillor support chart 2016 05 08Each of the 45 S4C Councillors made a statement in response to the S4C Manifesto for Council Candidates (along with 69 candidates who didn't get elected). These show just how much support there is across the city to get serious about cycling. Statements included the following remarks: 

20% cycling by 2020 could be a minimum not a target if we work together and have the right leadership in City Hall! (Labour)

Driving into the city is a mis-use of time and energy. I prove time and time again that the quickest way around Bristol is by cycle. Especially on short journeys into the city. (Conservative)

There is still much more to do in Bristol so we can reach a genuine tipping point where the cyclists and walkers set the agenda rather than the cars. (Green)

Driving in Bristol is becoming a more and more unpleasant experience and having good cycle routes will help the city to become a safer place for cyclists. (Lib Dems)

Bristol Cycling Campaign looks forward to working with Mayor Marvin Rees on the strategic changes to deliver Space for Cycling. We will also be working with Councillors and Neighbourhood Partnerships across the city to produce Neighbourhood Good Transport Plans. 

Here's a tweet by tweet summary of the transport part of the Mayoral hustings on Weds 20th April 2016. 

All the main candidates have now responded to our Space for Cycling Bristol Mayoral manifesto. However, the level of measureable commitment varies!

The next Bristol Mayor faces huge challenges in addressing our chronic problems of congestion and pollution. Support for cycling as a mass transport solution has huge public support as shown by the Bristol Bike Life 2015 report where 7 in 10 people want to see more spent on safer cycling infrastructure.

Recent experience from London shows that investing in Space for Cycling not only increases road capcity overall, but motor traffic moves more freely. The Mayor of London has just published HUMAN STREETS: THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR CYCLING THREE YEARS ON where he says: "Our original painted lanes were revolutionary at the time. But knowing what I do now, we would have blasted ahead with our new segregated cycle lanes from the beginning".

The learning from the London Mayor applies just as much to Bristol "The key factor is political leadership. Everyone supports cycling – until it involves doing anything meaningful. ... So for years in this country, we did half-hearted cycling schemes that upset nobody but also, bluntly, helped nobody and changed nothing".

This is why everyone in Bristol is looking to the new Mayor to offer something more than words. Our Mayoral manifesto identifies two key priorities that are the key to unlock the potential for Bristol to become a true Cycling City. As you consider the statements of the candidates below, and at the mayoral hustings on transport tonight, 20th April, consider these questions:

  1. Will you create protected Space for Cycling on the Gloucester Rd?

  2. Will you support a Living Heart for Bristol by removing through motor traffic from Anchor Rd, Park St, Haymarket, Baldwin St and Prince St?

Extracts from candidate statements

Kay Barnard – Lib Dem
I support the Space for Cycling campaign to improve facilities and infrastructure for cyclists in Bristol.  I am myself a cyclist but rarely cycle in Bristol because of the poor infrastructure and lack of safety.Full statement from Kay Barnard [Lib Dem]

Tony Dyer – Green Party
It is my intention to rebalance Bristol's transport network by improving public and active transport – the latter includes both walking and cycling. By providing a range of attractive travel alternatives to sitting in a car stuck in a traffic jam breathing in car fumes, I believe that we can deliver a far cleaner, less congested, much healthier, city. A city fit for the 21st centuryFull statement from Tony Dyer [Greens]

George Ferguson - Bristol 1st 
I am one hundred percent behind the cycling manifesto. In my first term we have continued to deliver an enormous amount, including cycling ambition funding for more segregation and are currently building new paths and increasing the number of cycle stands. Full statement from George Ferguson [Bristol 1st]

Charles Lucas - Conservative
I wholeheartedly support safe cycling for all including segregated cycle lanes where practical and possible, as part of an integrated transport policy but not at the expense of all other road users. A balanced approach is required at all times. Full statement from Charles Lucas [Conservative]

Marvin Rees - Labour
I support cycling. Not only does it have obvious health benefits in keeping people fit and improving the air quality, but it has social benefits too, getting people out and about, talking to each other, experiencing life.   I want to make cycling an ordinary part of everyday life. That means safety and space on roads. It also means developing the image of cycling and changing the nature of the conversation from competitive to co-operative. Full statement from Marvin Rees [Labour]

Whatever the current  level of commitment by each candidate whoever gets in will need give greater priority to cycling infrastructure (as London is successfully doing), walking and public transport  if the city is to reduce the congestion and future proof the city as its population continues to grow.



dublincycling.ie bike theft survey resultsBike theft is a huge issue in Bristol and there can few bike owners who don't have a story to tell. This is a great infographic from Dublin Cycling Campaign that applies just as much to Bristol.

Some of the key points from survey:

  • 1 in 6 (17%) who have a bike stolen don’t replace their bike 
  • A further 1 in 4 reduce the amount they cycle following their bike being stolen 
  • Over 40% of stolen bikes were locked with a cable lock 
  • Underground car parks and homes are as bad as streets for theft.

As DCC say "This is just one example of the how campaigns that we run can improve the cycling experience in Dublin. It all relies however, on people taking personal responsibility for changing things. The more people we have involved, the more we can do."

Read the full article here Bike Theft Survey Results | Dublin Cycling Campaign

DutchTour2014 Cheerful man protected pathWhen the government wants to announce something quietly, it has several weasely methods for ensuring that the media is looking the other way. It can issue the announcement on the Friday just as Parliament is closing, it can issue it when the Prime Minister is out of the country and unable to be questioned, or it can wait for an opportune moment like a terrorist attack to distract attention. What news could possibly be so bad that it uses all three, but even worse than issuing the news when Parliament is rising, it issues it on a bank holiday weekend?

The answer is the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) which was finally issued over the Easter weekend (background). The first three words of the title, cycling and walking, are accurate, but the final two words, investment and strategy, are so economical with the truth as to make austerity look like a generous uncle handing out tenners to all and sundry.

The case for investing in walking and cycling is inarguable, and many studies, including that of the Parliamentary All Party Cycling Group, called Get Britain Cycling, show that it is many times better value for money than any other transport spending, with staggeringly high payback of at least ten to one. Compare that to road schemes which are regarded as good value with a payback of 1.5 to one, but only if you make some dodgy assumptions about the value of drivers’ time. More cycling means better health, reduced obesity, less congestion, less pollution, less danger, improved environment and sustainability, and according to NICE, getting more people cycling would be the best way of achieving the government’s health targets. The same is likely to be true for walking. There is no better transport investment than active travel, walking and cycling, so, being acutely aware of their fiscal responsibilities to the nation, the government has decided on this strategy, and the Prime Minister himself has said that he will be starting a “cycling revolution”.

They are “investing” £42bn into HS2 and £15bn on the roads strategy, neither of which have an economic case, with the latter increasing congestion, pollution and danger, so the investment into cycling and walking must be more than both of those put together surely? The answer of course, is no. Over a five year period, the government will be kickstarting the cycling revolution with £300m, which might sound a lot, but is, compared to other transport investment, not even a single peanut. The Get Britain Cycling report called for initial spending of £10 per person, rising to £20 per person, to achieve the target of 25% of journeys by bicycle by 2050. The amount proposed in the CWIS is £1.38 per person outside London, and it will take until the 23rd century to achieve its targets, according to CTC’s Policy Director Roger Geffen. This is kickstarting by a man with no legs.

If getting more people cycling and walking was anathema to government policy, then the failure to invest in them might be understandable, but the government is fully committed to increasing them, with any number of supportive statements, like that of Mr Cameron, but the investment still goes to schemes with vastly inferior returns on every conceivable criteria. To show their confidence that this strategy is so overwhelmingly, inarguably, impeccably correct, they issued it on a Bank Holiday weekend, when the Prime Minister is on holiday and when there have been big terrorist attacks. There can be no clearer demonstration that this government doesn’t care about the nation’s health, global warming, death and injury on our roads, congestion or basically anything apart from pandering to the car lobby and big business which gets the contracts for road and rail infrastructure.

BCyC imageWorrying news from cabinet papers published yesterday that Prince Street Bridge, and the streets on either side, may become as congested and hostile for walking and cycling as before (which is to say 'business as usual' and a missed opportunity).

It is our view that this should be closed to motor vehicles so that two new iconic 'plazas', one at each end, can be established at the heart of the Harbouride (A Modest Proposal #3: Inner Loop Proposal). It's plain to see that the level of use for walking and cycling, and the importance of the public space, mean that through traffic can no longer be accommodated.

The bridge has been closed for repairs since August 2015 and it's been found the condition is worse than thought. An option was considered to "refurbish the existing bridge with a lighter deck only suitable for pedestrians and cyclists, [although] the potential cost saving is small as a percentage of the overall estimated cost of the work and [it] represents a good investment in network resilience".

The decision has been made to return the bridge to its previous carrying capacity although the report says "this does not preclude a future policy decision on what traffic the bridge may carry if overall traffic conditions in the City were to change". 

The report says that "Prince Street Bridge forms a vital link enabling pedestrians and cyclists to cross the City Docks."

No argument about that.

It goes on to say "It is also an important route for light vehicular traffic and the consequences of the bridge not being available for such traffic can be felt in several locations on the highway network".  The level of use is apparently "6,000 pedestrians and 2,500 cyclists wishing to cross the City Docks at this location, along with well over 4,000 vehicles each day".

BCyC imageThe Bristol Cycling Campaign is proposing to organise a 2016 study tour this June (7th-9th) with the world renowned Hembrow Study Tours. We will again be making use of the very detailed and insightful tours from David Hembrow, taking in the Northern Dutch cities of Assenand Groningen. These locations boast some of the best cycling infrastructure in the world (and also some that would not look at all out of place in Bristol 5 years ago).

As with the first study tour in 2014 you we'll help with travel options but you're free to make your own  arrangements. The price of the tour itself will depend on the number of participants but should be around £250* per person including accommodation. Travel to Assen is additional but will be £150-£200. Bike hire is very convenient and cheap from the station.

The Euro currently low against the Pound so now is a great time to take advantage of such favourable rates.

For the moment we would like to get an idea of the numbers of people interested. Therefore if you would please quickly fill in the following Doodle poll (no login required) with either Yes (interested), [Yes] (maybe) or No (not interested) that would be extremely helpful: http://doodle.com/poll/x63429kc4fkypb43

Anyone considering what might be learned should start with this video How the Dutch got their cycle paths. And then follow that up with this 5 minute summary of a 3 day tour.

We are strong supporters of Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR) and they have just launched an online rail travel survey to feed into the
WEP Joint Transport Plan and inform their campaign strategy – see the FOSBR website or follow the link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LWQBS7T

The national Association of Train Operating Companies is interested in learning more about travel by cycle-rail. Here's what they're after: 

The number of cycle-rail users is growing each year and so it’s important that the Association of Train Operating Companies, understand how best to provide you with helpful information when you’re planning a rail journey with a cycle.

They want to make your cycle-rail journey as simple as possible with the view to clarify information around station cycle facilities, hire schemes nearby and cycle restrictions on board trains.  Take their short survey which will take between 10-15 minutes to complete. As a thank you for your time all completed surveys will be entered into a free prize draw where four lucky winners will win £25 worth of Amazon gift vouchers each. The survey and prize draw will close on 31st January. Details of how to enter can be found at the end of the survey.

The link is: http://bit.ly/PlusBike5

We had this interesting response to the article A Modest Proposal #4: Clanage Road Roundabout and the Festival Way. It goes to the heart of the main dilemma of cycle campaigning.

Do we press for what's achievable and encourage/enforce use of less desirable routes and facilities?

Or should we always insist on full Triple A standards (All Ages and Abiltities) providing proper Space for Cycling?

Come along to the monthly meetup, or join one of our actions groups to be part of the debate.

I have read the proposals for the proposed improvements around Clanage Road and Ashton Park School and thought I would give my opinion on this.

Brace yourselves!  A absolute blizzard of major consultations is here.

This is a big shout out for your help!

If you have views to share, or want to be part of the discussions, you need to get stuck in right now.

Here's the plan:

  1. You help tell everyone what's going on and ask them to comment

  2. We put comment together into a pithy response, using our famous Red/Amber/Green rating

  3. We publish the response with a call out to our thousands of supporters to send responses supporting us 

Your chance to help make a difference to cycling in Bristol - find out how, bring ideas and enthusiasm to the ideas and planning meeting for Space 4 Cycling Bristol campaign 2016 –– Boston Tea Party Park Rd, upstairs, Mon 7 Dec, 5.30pm

Fed up with:

  • Cycle lanes that just stop, vehicles parked in cycle lanes,
  • Having only 1 mile of dedicated cycle lane (compared to nearly 600 miles of road in Bristol city),
  • No dedicated space for cyclists on ‘shared ‘paths e.g. centre of city, getting to Temple meads
  • Trying to find somewhere to park your bike

Do you:

  • Want your kids to be able to cycle safely on the roads?
  • Want to be able to ride safely to get to mountain bike tracks?

If you want any of these then here is your chance to help make change.

BCyC imageIt's very good news that the planning application for a cycle route along the Avon Valley through Crews Hole at the ‘Conham Gap’ has now been approved. We were strongly supportive of the proposal as it received a rare 'five green' score against our five criteria.

It's been two years since the last proposal was rejected following angry, misinformed and disappointingly managed meetings where BCyC members felt intimidated for advocating that walking and cycling should be enabled on this important link. 

This now leaves the small problem of funding the works. We hope it will form part of the programme for the Cycle City Ambition Fund 2 funding

At the Bristol Cycle Forum on 19th Nov we heard about proposals for finally starting to open up the Downs for better access by people walking and cycling. At the moment due to the dominance of cars there is limited space and inadequate provision for the growing numbers wishing to travel to and use the downs by walking and cycling.

Vicki Cracknell (of Cycle Sunday fame) spoke to urgently ask that we comment on on the Place and Movement Framework for the Downs (10.6MB PDF! Full of pictures and ideas but takes a while to download). This is being presented at the AGM of the Downs Committee for 'consideration' although detailed proposals are a way off yet.

At the Bristol Cycle Forum on 19th November there was news of two big and important topics. Firstly, finally, there seems to be some movement on opening up The Downs for more walking and cycling. Secondly, James Coleman of Bristol City Council took us through proposals spending the next round of Cycling City Ambition Fund (CCAF2). This is the main source of government funding for the next couple of years. It is now proposed to be spent on:

Bristol Cycling Campaign Logo transparentPNG w250pxWhat’s the issue?

The Bristol regional cycle network is almost entirely made up of shared space with motor traffic, or shared use with pedestrians. Both are essential and useful where appropriate, but otherwise can create conflict and anxiety about safety from more vulnerable users, whether perceived or actual. The Bristol Bike Life 2015 Report rated shared pavements and bus lanes as the least popular measures.

Concerns about safety is the major factor preventing more people cycling. A safe, direct and convenient cycle network is the key factor in making cycling so easy that everyone feels able to do it.

BCyC position

Cycling, walking and driving need different networks with specific design requirements. These may overlap and be shared in specific circumstances. While comprehensive and suitably separated networks exist for walking and driving, there is little real Space for Cycling for a city with aspirations for 20% of trips by cycles.

Download this file (BCyCPolicy-SharedSpace.pdf)BCyCPolicy-SharedSpace.pdf[BCyC Shared Use and Shared Space Policy]86 kB

The Bike Life 2015 Report for Bristol is out, and attached below. Inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, this is an assessment of cycling development including cycling conditions, new initiatives and satisfaction with various aspects of cycling. 

Overall this is an interesting and useful report which will be of great value in making the case for cycling improvements. It's no surprise that the lack of safe and comfortable cycle routes is the main thing that stops more people riding. When asked what measures will help them cycle more, people say they want real Space for Cycling - protected lanes and traffic-free routes. It appears they weren't asked about 20mph and slower speeds but we know these are very popular and already cover 80% of Bristol streets.

Bristol people also have a very positive view of cycling with nearly three quarters already thinking positively about people riding bikes. There is a big mandate for change across the city. The survey of 1,100 also confirmed strong support for more investment (70%).

We are particularly pleased to see that it's now been calculated how much cycling is worth to Bristol. For every mile cycled instead of driven there's a benefit of 62p in savings to the individual and local economy (wipe that annoying smug look off your face, just feel it inside). This works out at over £26 million every year at current levels of cycling. Then there's a further £28.5 of benefits to health in the city, every year. 

Download this file (Bike-Life-Bristol-2015.pdf)Bike-Life-Bristol-2015.pdf[ ]1756 kB

There are a number of Community Speedwatch groups helping to make the 20mph areas in Bristol more effective. The group in Greater Bedminster is made up of BCyC members and they have shared the results of their observations. Figures from 2014 showed that 20mph limits were having an effect but with some specific problem areas.

In 2015 over a thousand vehicles were checked with 14% going over 25mph (including one at 46mph!). There is a noticable improvement over 2014, however the threshold for recording has increased in 2015 from 24 to 26mph. The group is not going to monitor Raleigh Road any more as a new speed table appears to have had a significant effect.

There are occasional training sessions run by the police for those who wish to join or set up a Speedwatch group. You can find out more from the police website.

Date Time Duration Location Total Vehicles Speeding % Average of speeders
31/03/15 09:05 30 North Street 113 20 18% 27.7 mph
15/05/15 15:30 30 Duckmoor Road 107 26 24% 28.8 mph
02/02/15 09:00 30 Duckmoor Road 80 19 24% 28.3 mph
27/04/15 09:25 15 Duckmoor Road 123 9 7% 27.8 mph
15/05/15 15:30 30 Duckmoor Road 107 26 24% 29.0 mph
29/10/15 09:00 30 Raleigh Road outbound 43 4 9% 26.3 mph
05/11/15 09:05 35 Duckmoor Road 82 21 26% 27.6 mph
26/11/15 08:50 35 Bedminster Parade 136 11 8% 27.4 mph
12/12/15 09:45 25 North Street 176 6 3% 29.3 mph
17/12/15 09:15 30 Bedminster Parade 114 7 6% 26.9 mph
        1081 149 14%  

On 25 October four BCyC members joined campaign groups from across the country to share ideas and hear from professionals and politicians at the 2015 CTC-Cyclenation conference in Liverpool.

It seems the UK is waking up to the benefits of cycling for all, albeit very slowly. And it's up to us to keep pushing that message to politicians and policy makers. We need to be framing the message in broader terms than just cycling. To get their attention we need to be arguing that making our streets better for cycling makes them better spaces for everyone.

Here's a running story of the day. Presentations can be found here. Don't miss the astonishing Propensity to cycle tool', or Building high quality space for cycling (including junction animations), or Brian Deegan on the  pace of change in London. Finally, everyone interested in cycle campaigning should reflect on Matt Turner's Effective Campaigning.  There's also a detailed report of the conference from Birmingham Push Bikes.

Opinion pieces and musings. Note that views expressed may not be supported by Bristol Cycling Campaign.