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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. Have a look at our Blog for opinion pieces.


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:

What’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.

Where differences in both speed and volumes are low, people on cycles can comfortably share streets with motor vehicles. Where actual speeds are in excess of 20mph, or where vehicle volumes exceed 2,000 a day, separated (protected) space for cycling is required.

Sharing between people walking and cycling can be relaxed, convenient and sociable in quieter spaces and pavements with clear lines of sight and low relative speeds. Where either pedestrian or cycle traffic is heavy it causes anxiety and avoidance.

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

So, the Bike Life 2015 Report for Bristol is out. 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. 

The report sets a baseline against which future progress will be judged. This is one of the weaknesses of the report in that it summarises the status of over 20 years of work without setting out what has changed recently, or what specifically is planned to enable the declared targets to be reached. A good deal of the monitoring information was already available in more comprehensive forms, as we summarised in April 2015 Cycling Trends in Bristol.

For example the target is to spend £16 per head of population (in line with our Bristol Cycling Manifesto) but in 2014/15 this was only £14.62, almost entirely due to a range of government funds (Cycle Ambition Fund, Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Cycle Safety Grant). Real political determination and leadership will be needed as current indications are that cycling is "off the agenda" in the coming 5 year spending review and is likely to lose out to road building and rail upgrade projects.

Key facts for Bristol at a glance:

  • 18 million bike trips in Bristol in a year
  • 31% of people ride a bike once a month or more
  • 8 in 10 people support increasing the safety of cycling – more than any other way of getting around the city
  • 70% of people want to see more spent on cycling
  • £28.5 million is the benefit to health in the city, in a single year, from the current level of people riding bikes
  • 11,755 tonnes of CO2 saved by people making trips by riding a bike rather than driving – equivalent to the annual emissions of around 4,629 cars
  • 67p per mile is the saving to individuals and to the local economy, for every mile biked instead of driven – which works out at over £26 million a year for Bristol at current levels of cycling

There are also Bike Life reports for Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle. You can compare the cities and find out more details on the report findings and methodology at www.sustrans.org.uk/bikelife

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. Over a thousand vehicles were checked with 18% going over 24mph.

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.

It’s not often a Caribbean carnival, a magical bike ride, wild walks and the Ambling band are combined but on Sun 25 Oct they will all be at the Portway from 1.00 – 6pm when its closed for Bristolians to enjoy lots of colourful and fun activities:  

Caribbean dance, a magical twilight cycle, guided walks, kids bike skills training and lots of music will all be combined at the last Portway Park Sunday.

It will be a chance for the people of Bristol to enjoy the autumn colours of the Avon Gorge free of traffic and have lots of fun including;

  • Experience a colourful Afrikan Caribbean procession with music and dance
  • Join in a Magical Twilight to dark cycle – a family friendly cycle for participants to illuminate their bikes with fairy lights, glow sticks and lanterns.
  • Discover the amazing geology of the gorge where there were once coral reefs, dinosaurs and diamonds!
  • Take a walk on the wild side with Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge
  • Kids learn new bike skills with Bristol Cycling Development Squad
  • Join in with Bristol’s Ambling Band and Monkey Puppets as they lead a ‘bandstand-inspired structure’, of recycled materials, to the bottom of the Clifton Rocks Railway.
  • Hear Bristol’s 800 anniversary year musical Fanfare followed by classical music from Portway String quartet playing under the Suspension bridge.
  • Have a guided tour of the Avon Wildlife centre

For more information www.portwaysundaypark.co.uk, regular updates on www.facebook.com/portwaysundaypark

We're looking to employ a special person who can help take Bristol Cycling Campaign to the next level.

Might this be you, or someone you know?

BCyC is powered by the energy of our members and activists through our working groups such as infrastructure, road justice, and rides & events. The new role of Facilitator will support effective and energised working groups. In particular, following our successful and influential Bristol Cycling Manifesto in 2013, it is now time for a big push to ensure that Space for Cycling is part of local, city-wide and regional manifestos as we prepare for the council and mayoral elections in May 2016.

We can only afford to pay for about 12 hours work a week until after the elections in May, but with the right person that will have a powerful and transformative effect. 

We know that cycling is important to Bristol, and that more people ride bikes here than in any other large UK city. We also know that two thirds of people find the roads too intimidating to even consider riding a bike. 

Details of the role are attached. To apply please send a CV on no more than 2 sides of A4, together with a statement in no more than 400 words of why you want the role. Applications should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and must be received by 5pm Thurs 22/10/2015. You should be available for interview in the week of 26/10/2015 and available to start immediately if offered the work.

Download this file (BCyCFacilitatorRoleDescription.pdf)BCyCFacilitatorRoleDescription.pdf[ ]59 kB

Between May 2013 and Feb 2015 there were 2976 cycle thefts in Bristol (LA area).  Only 3% of reported bicycle thefts resulted in a prosecution/caution/fine, so it was good to have news of the recent arrest of 5 people and recovery of £50,000 suspected stolen bikes.  

If you have ever wondered which areas are most vulnerable there's a useful map attached covering 2013 to 2015. Further information at See more at: http://www.betterbybike.info/bike-security/

Our friends at Stolen Bikes have an interesting blog using information from London looking at Bike Thieves – Who Are They? Recommended reading. No surprises that the answer to why bicycle theft is so attractive to offenders because it's a low risk, high reward crime.

Interesting that most thefts are during the day. They are possible because people rarely challenge suspicious behaviour. This astonishing video from Avon and Somerset Police of one of their PCSOs cutting various locks in every more brazen ways was filmed right in the middle of Broadmead. If you see something dodgy, do everyone a favour and ring 101 (or 999 if you're sure someone's beloved cycle is being nicked).


We've got a page on Bike Security with that may help you and your bike have a long and happy life together.

News comes through that there are now speed awareness courses for those caught speeding in 20mph areas. Drivers speeding between 24 and 31mph can now be required to attend the 4 hour 20mph Speed Awareness Courses at 8 venues across Avon and Somerset, South Wales, North Wales and Gwent Police Authorities.

This follows the adoption by the Police and Crime Commissioner of Road Safety as an additional priority (we prefer a Road Danger Reduction approach). The police are actively seeking to set up more Community Speedwatch schemes and their CSW June Newsletter is attached with details about how to contact them.

We have heard reports that this new course is highly effective at making the case and changing minds on why 20mph is such a good idea in residential and retail areas. We do wonder if those opposing Bristol's innovative city-wide adoption of 20mph might be offered places, without the need to get caught speeding first.

Top tip from the course (yes, we know someone who's been on it)? Never go above 3rd gear when in towns. The sound of the engine naturally keeps your speed down.

Bike Hanger - Windmill Hill (photo: Sam Saunders)Do you regularly use a bicycle? Are you frustrated that it’s sometimes difficult to find a secure and accessible space to store your bike?

If the answer is yes, then you’re probably not alone. Since 2003 the population of ‘greater’ Bedminster (Southville and Bedminster) has risen by 22% and the number of people regularly walking and cycling has also risen significantly. 

Greater Bedminster has the third lowest levels of car availability in the city. As many as 31% of households have no car (the Bristol average is 29%) and this area has the fourth highest proportion of people who travel to work on foot or by bicycle at 39% (the Bristol average is 27%). Source Greater Bedminster Neighbourhood Partnership Statistical Profile 2014, Bristol City Council http://www.bristol.gov.uk/…/NP10%20Bedminster%20Southville%…

Cycling is a convenient and healthy way to make short journeys to work, to the shops or for leisure. However, many people in greater Bedminster live in terrace houses where storage for bikes is limited and awkward. Some people have invested in secure bike storage boxes in their own gardens, but many people don’t have the space in their gardens or the resources for these. 

In 2015 a trial on-street ‘bikehanger’ storage box was installed in Eldon Terrace, Windmill Hill. The bikehanger is installed on the road and takes up approximately half a parking space. It can accommodate six bikes securely. The purchase and installation of the bikehanger was funded by a local transport grant and each bike space is rented to a bike owner for £25 a year (equivalent to about 50p a week). Local charity LifeCycle administer the renting of the bike hanger spaces. For more info. see http://www.cyclehoop.com/…/ma…/first-bikehangar-for-bristol/

If you would be interested in having a bikehanger near you or in your street please complete this short survey to help establish if there is demand and sufficient interest for more bike hangers to be installed in greater Bedminster.

Bike Hanger - Windmill Hill (photo: betterbybike.info)

As construction work starts on the various Metrobus routes we can expect considerable disruption to some key cycling routes through the city. In some areas this is a worthwhile inconvenience to get some valuable improvements. In others the outcome is less clear. There's a useful website with all the various projects at metrobusbuild.info.

Key points at present include:

  • Ashton Avenue Bridge by Cumberland Basin will be closed for a year (a full 12 months!). We are told that "The diversion does not use the road. Cyclists and pedestrians will be segregated and protected from the traffic by safety barriers. Temporary cycling improvements to both Ashmead Way and McAdam Way will be provided to complement the main diversion whilst the bridge is closed." Further information on betterbybike.info

  • Work on the Centre will start mid-September and will include segregated cycle routes.

  • Redcliffe Roundabout has been resurfaced and widened, with barely a nod to helping cyclists across this difficult, and now faster, roundabout.  Nor any improvement to the congested and overused shared use Brunel Mile, already a point of unnecessary conflict between pedestrians and cyclists.

  • South Goucestershire has works at Stoke Gifford and Bradley Stoke way. Hambrook Lane will be closed to motor vehicles for 38 weeks from Wednesday 2nd September which could be very pleasant while it lasts. In other areas there's little evidence of benefit for cycling.

  • South Bristol Link road is also underway. This will improve some cycle trips, but the new road and the new traffic it generates is likely to make cycling in South Bristol even more challenging.

Of course there's also other things going on such as Princes Street Bridge closed to cars, and Strawberry Line temporary closure.

As an example of the kind of problems likely to arise the section of cycletrack/footway along Winterstoke Road was closed for several days for ground tests recently with no provision for those unfortunate enough to try to cycle there. This is a main route to Ashton Park School and will probably be closed again but for a longer when the main works begin. The working assumption seemed to be that it is not a cycle route at all, perhaps as anyone trying to use it now would be quite lost without pretty detailed local knowledge due to existing poor signing. As all the works are being lead by different contractors it's as if the everyday management of the road system live in parallel universes as far as walking and cycling as concerned.

We'll be doing our best to press for proper provision and alternatives for those cycling while these works are going on. Do get in touch if you spot something that can be improved or if you can help make things better for others.

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