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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.

Please take a look at our Blog for quick updates.


May'15 Bristol Cycle Forum quick update

Avon & Somerset Police

Chief Inspector Andy Bennett, lead officer on cycling, spoke about having revised his leaflet handed out to cyclists when caught by officers breaking the Highway Code. His mantra is to educate before enforcement taking a wholistic approach. The leafet has recently been redrafted to make it more cycling friendly. Enforcement needs to be proportionate and a process of culture change is happening where officers are encouraged to use discretion when dealing with violations. The intention is to extend this approach to all road users: anything from buses, HGVs to cycles.


Cllr Gary Hopkins revealed that the tests for CycleEye (more here) have gone well and there are encouraging signs the trial will be widened out across Bristol.

Barra Mac Ruairi 

Director of Place at Bristol City Council Barra Mac Ruairi laid out his approach to making Bristol a more liveable city. For him it's about trying to get balance. He said "Cycling is very important to the city" (for the usual reasons around reducing congestion and pollution, promoting health and the economy) and that it is "not good to be scared" whilst moving around the city. His job is to look at the long term development of Bristol from funding through policy to delivery on ground. He has to balance the needs of businesses and citizens and their various transport needs. Health outcomes are taken into consideration part of what he does. Local interventions made for benefit of the whole network but things could be better joined up. When asked about why the Bearpit (St James Barton roundabout) development is taking so long to finish he reassured us that it is not in anyone's interests to drag their heels on a project, for the council officers' workload, for the politicians or for the contractors. It turns out there was an unforeseen problem with the parapet walls which were being partly removed for the stairways as these turned out to be integral to the structure of the supporting walls.

Bristol Grand Prix

A new cycle race to be held on Sat 20th June, the day before the Sky Ride (formerly Bristols Biggest Bike Ride). The idea is to bring a new audience to everyday cycling via the sport. (Though as we point out here, there is a potential downside to this). Prior to the race the Mayor will be leading a lap of honour for 'Love my Bike' and there will be events taking place on the upper reaches of Park Street. The organisers are looking volunteers to help out on the day: http://bristolgrandprix.com 

The minutes of this meeting are to be found on the Forum website when available: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/cycle-forum

Bristol Cycling digest 2015/05

Here's an assortment of articles that you may have missed over the past month about Bristol cycling. Members have put these together using the Reddit list BristolCycling

Summer of Cycling

Now that May is here all the news about the Summer of Cycling in Bristol comes pouring in.

The very wonderful Bristol Cycle Festival are back for their 6th year with a busy programme including our famous Discover Bristol Rides. Programmes should be in all your favourite venues shortly, or see the website now.

European Cycle Challenge posterAlso, Bristol Council through their Better By Bike brand announce that Bristol is again competing in the European Cycle Challenge. Anyone who rides a bike is encouraged to sign up and start clocking their bike miles for Bristol on a leader board of 39 other towns and cities across Europe.

There is also the National Cycling Challenge, from Bristol based Love to Ride which is backed by CTC and Cyclescheme. Same basic idea but UK based. Oh, and Jam Busting Challenge from TravelWest.

Meanwhile Big Green Week is promoting their Bristol Grand Prix cycle race and activities on a circuit round inner city streets. See our blog for some thoughts on this.

There is no Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride this year as it's been taken over by SkyRide. We understand that while the Portway will be closed, the three routes will be different and may well involve Bridge Valley Road and the Downs, but not Portishead or Clevedon.

Finally, this is the year of Portway Sunday Parks where the whole Portway will be kept open for all sorts of activities on five days including the Sky ride, triathlon, 10k run, half marathon and the Bristol Bath Marathon. There will also some further Cycle Sunday dates on the Downs.

One interesting aspect of the two data gathering challenges is what they can tell us about which routes people are choosing. Of course, not too much should be read into this due to the self selecting sample. As they say, "you don't choose where to build a bridge by looking at the number of people swimming".

Even so, the Bristol heatmap style imaging from the European Cycling Challenge, and from Strava, and from our work with Rideable Bristol in 2013 does provide evidence to support our Bristol Strategic Cycling Network.

Bristol Heatmap

Cycle Sunday returns to the Downs in June

As announced on twitter, following the successful inaugural event on 19 April, fantastic news there is to be another event on 28 June. Keep in touch through their group.

As Sam Saunders writes in his blog, on that Sunday morning in April "a section of Circular Road on the Bristol Downs was opened for people and bicycles. For a few hours hundreds and hundreds of people of all ages had a whale of a time on bikes – learning, practicing, coaching, watching, being serious, having fun and having more fun. It was a very sociable and good natured event with plenty of professional support. When I asked a medic for the casualty count as I left she said, with a big smile, that it stood at none."

Unfortunately the day was spoilt for a few people passing by on Ladies Mile who were subject to an unreasonable attitude from a police officer when riding two abreast, as Sam explains further on in his blog posting.

Goodbye and good luck


At our social evening on 22nd April we formally said farewell to Martin McDonnell who is off to Edinburgh to start a new life there. Martin has been a mainstay of the Campaign since he joined in 2008.

Martin Tweddell gave a brief speech saying "Martin has taken the Cycling Campaign from the doldrums in 2008 to the vibrant and effective body it is today. Without his dedication we would never have got to the position of producing a manifesto for cycling which has subsequently been adopted as official council policy. Quite an achievement."

Martin was then presented with a small token of our appreciation making a connection between his old and new adopted cities. The whisky tumbler in Bristol blue glass will remind him of us every time he has a wee dram...

Until our AGM on 27 May, Martin continues to be our Secretary after which he will step down.

We wish Martin all the best and hope he can do as much for cycling north of the border as he has here in Bristol.  Scotland watch out!

Active Travel Hustings - are we any the wiser?

On April 21st, Life Cycle UK organised a hustings for General Election candidates to answer questions on walking and cycling from an audience of about 60 people who themselves had mainly walked or cycled to the event.  The hustings were hosted by TLT at their 12th floor offices in 1 Redcliffe St – which has great views of Bristol.


The hustings were consummately chaired by well known journalist, broadcaster, author and cyclist Rob Penn. The following candidates agreed to attend: Thangam Debbonnaire (Labour – Bristol West), Darren Hall (Green – Bristol West), Claire Hiscott (Conservative – Bristol West), Mark Wright (Lib Dem – Bristol South), Dawn Parry (Independents for Bristol – Bristol West) and Paul Turner (UKIP – Bristol West).

Unfortunately Thangam Debbonnaire and Paul Turner were unable to make it. Thangam was able to send in her place Kye Dudd (Labour candidate for Cabot in the up-coming local council elections) and Paul was absent due to a family illness. However Claire Hiscott failed to turn up with no apology and was conspicuous by her absence. Being left with a selection of candidates who broadly agreed with each other was not great for debate or democracy.

The evening was heavy on anecdote and good intentions but light on evidence and hard policy. However there were some exceptions.

- Kye Dudd (KD) was strong on tackling social inequality and knows Bristol well. He cited Trade Union support for improvements to active travel.

- As a businesswoman Dawn Parry (DP) began her political career as a Conservative, only leaving them when she realised they didn’t share her values. Transport appears not to be her strong point but she was broadly sympathetic with the other candidates and the audience, though at one point she did propose a “cycling proficiency test for all” which went unchallenged.

- Mark Wright (MW) was by far the most informed on the subject having been a councillor for the central Cabot ward for three terms, helping to introduce 20mph and the first RPZ in Kingsdown. He is now campaigning for Bristol to have a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ), but was unsuccessful in recent years to implement workplace parking charges.

- Darren Hall (DH) was especially keen to invest in walking and cycling as an effective way to tackle climate change and health inequality.


Discover Bristol Rides - 38 cake fuelled days out in 2014

Were you one of the hundreds of people who came on one our popular Discover Bristol Rides in the past year? We did a grand total of 38 rides in the last year, supported by an Active Neighbourhood Grant from Bristol Council.

Looking back the team of enthusiastic volunteer ride leaders can be justifiably proud of the range of unusual and interesting opportunities they created to get on your bike and Discover Bristol. Favourites were the Pub Pitstops, the Tea and Cakes rides, and a ‘Coffee House’ series, as well as exploring historic buildings and lovely local routes such as Coastal Clevedon, Chew Valley Lake or Strawberry Line Rides.

We've just fixed the programme for May and June so make a date in the diary to join us. Read the report of the programme here.

Third closure of Bristol Bath Railway Path

Some are calling it a conspiracy, but a third closure of a section of the massively popular Bristol Bath Cycle Path has been announced.

Unlike the first one at Staple Hill for tunnel repairs, this one will improve things for users.

Unlike the second one for resurfacing between Bitton and Saltford, there will be a signed diversion. [NEWSFLASH: "Alternative routes will be posted whilst maintenance work is carried out between Bitton & Saltford"]

This one is for an £80,000 improvement scheme to double the width of the narrowest section of the path from two metres to four metres on one of the busiest sections of the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path in Lawrence Hill. Work is due to start on Monday 20 April and is expected to be closed for about 10 weeks.

It's going to be worth it as this section has always uncomfortable for all users with pedestrians and cyclists being forced to squeeze past each other in the narrow space.

Vote Bike!

With election fever building now is the time to review what we know about each party's position on cycling. The Guardian says "With a couple of honourable exceptions, the main parties show depressingly little vision or ambition in their election programmes" which is disappointing as if you followed the Big Cycling Debate, an event in March involving transport spokespeople from the three main parties, you’d be forgiven for thinking policies on cycling would at least be relatively prominent in the election. Sustrans have set out their response to the party manifestos.

Meanwhile CTC has statements on cycling from 9 of the parties. They've also been busy pressing all candidates to respond to five questions on cycling through their interactive website VoteBike.org.uk. You can find out if candidates in your constituency have responded yet and take action to find out.

Finally, our very own Lifecycle UK has organised General Election Cycle Hustings for Bristol candidates on Tuesday 21st April. There are still places if you hurry. We'll hope to have a report.

Here are the five questions from CTC to parliamentary candidates:

1. Ambition. Will you support measures to increase levels of cycling to 10% of trips by 2025 and 25% by 2050?
Read more about ambition here

2. Funding. Will you support an average government spend of at least £10 per person per year on cycling?
Read more about funding here (PDF)

3. Design standards. Will you support action to create consistently high design standards for cycling in all highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned road maintenance work?
Read more about design standards here

4. Safety. Will you support measures to improve cycle safety by strengthening road traffic law and its enforcement and revising the Highway Code?
Read more about safety here

5. Positive promotion.  Will you support the positive promotion of cycling, including cycle skills training, for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities?
Read more about positive promotion


Cycling Trends in Bristol

There's been quite a bit of interest in our article about Gloucester Road cycling (here, here and here for example). Our aim was to draw attention to a new set of data from DfT, and to make the point that even on a road where nothing has been done to make it better for cycling, numbers have risen to make this one of the most heavily used routes in the city. We think this is evidence that when really good 'Triple A' (All Ages and Abilities) end-to-end provision is provided, we can confidently expect dramatic, rather than gradual, growth.

We thought it might be helpful to share further data and graphs from Bristol Council about general trends, and the A38 Gloucester/Cheltenam Rd in particular (note that an upgraded permanent cycle counter network was installed in March 2015 here that will give much better information).

There is an excellent summary paper on the census cycling data, with useful headline figures about cycling in Bristol as a whole. The census provides a very robust measure. The Quality of Life Survey of 2014 shows 9% of people cycled to work in Bristol in 2013 (transport pages attached below).

Bristol is also one of 7 cities working with Sustrans to produce Bicycle Accounts in 2015 and 2017 containing a range of statistics about cycling in the city. The first report is due to be released in October this year.

DfT and Council Counts

Let's start with the differences between the sets of data from the Dept for Transport (DfT) and those from Bristol Council (BCC). Bristol has been recording traffic annually in a series of cordons around the centre for many years. Some of these are shown in the map below. For our purposes we're looking at the BCC counts from the point on Cheltenham Rd just north of Arley Hill, while the DfT sampling point is just north of Claremont Road, about 700m apart.


Cycle Sunday - this Sunday!

Cycle Sunday road closed signOur friends at Cycle Sunday have managed to get a large section of the Downs opened for bikes and families on Sunday (we helped with their application). We really want this to be a great success so that everyone can see this is the way forward for this icon Bristol leisure destination. Do make the effort to drop by, even if only passing through on your Sunday outing.  Here's their latest update:

Dear all,

We can’t believe that Cycle Sunday is only a few days away now and wanted to send you all one last message before the big day.

There has been a brilliant response on Eventbrite with 1,300 people already signed up. Do sign up if you are planning on coming, as it’s a huge help for us and means we are able to email people with last minute info about the event: www.cyclesunday.eventbrite.com

We wanted to let you know that the two most senior members of the Downs Committee are arriving at 9.00am for a photo call and bike ride with a group of children. The fact that they want to be publically associated with the event is a real coup for us. It would be fantastic to have as many people as possible already there order to make them feel welcome.

The weather forecast is great for Sunday, so whichever cycle tribe you belong to, and whether you have little people in tow or not, do come up for a quick ride round the Downs. Come and support us in making a very positive statement about the status of cycling on the Downs and how it needs to change.

Just to let you know, there won’t be any coffee/tea for sale out by the Seawalls. So, if like us, you need caffeine to kick start your day, then pop to Café Retreat (by the water tower) en route or bring a flask!

Lastly, please do keep sharing the petition with your friends and family: 


Thanks so much and hope to see you at Cycle Sunday,

Vicki and the Cycle Sunday Team



New Bristol Pound note to feature cycling

Lovely to see cycling featuring in the new set of Bristol Pound notes, as reported in the Bristol Post.

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  2. Building on success - lessons from Gloucester Road
  3. Petition to extend the Strawberry Line
  4. Why are recent plans for cycling so awful?
  5. BCyC briefing for Deputy Mayor Mark Bradshaw
  6. Bristol Cycle Campaign Dutch Study Tour 2015
  7. Bristol Cycling digest 2015/03
  8. Another section of Railway Path closed
  9. General Election Cycle Hustings
  10. £19m Cycle City Ambition Grant awarded to West of England - now confirmed
  11. Portway Sunday Park dates announced
  12. New Great Western trains can carry up to 10 cycles
  13. John Grimshaw speaks at February meeting
  14. Women on Wheels film night and Bristol Cycle Festival
  15. Bristol Cycle Strategy published
  16. Bristol area bids for West of England Cycle Transformation
  17. Community Speedwatch in Bedminster
  18. What we learned on our Dutch Study Tour
  19. New Year Consultation Fever
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  24. November meeting has talks on 'Roads were not built for cars' and Green Capital
  25. Annual Cyclenation-CTC conference 2014
  26. Merchant's Dock Consultation Response
  27. Full house at campaigners training day
  28. Majority of under 35s in employment in Bristol choose not to commute by car
  29. More irrelevant cycling 'infrastructure'
  30. Council calls for halt to 20mph speed limits
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  35. Clarence Road "Dutch-style" Cycleway - update
  36. Bristol Bike Forum on 18th Sept 2014
  37. New Cycling related Consultations and Planning Applications
  38. How the Draft Bristol Cycle Strategy can be better
  39. National recognition of BCyC Road Justice campaigning
  40. Bristol council debate our Cycling Manifesto
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  42. Penny on Discover Bristol rides during the cycle festival
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  44. Bristol Cycling Campaign Dutch study tour
  45. London Cycle Campaign interviews George Ferguson
  46. Bristol Cycling Campaign response to TRSGD consultation
  47. Our New Committee
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