Cycling news from Bristol and beyond

BCyC meets Deputy Mayor Mark Bradshaw

We had a useful meeting in on March 26th with Deputy Mayor (as he was then) Mark Bradshaw in his role as cabinet member responsible for transport. Also in attendance were Jodi Savickas (Strategic City Transport, Place Directorate) and Ed Plowden (Sustainable Transport Service Manger).

We made use of our BCyC briefing for Deputy Mayor Mark Bradshaw which identified five key point for discussion.

Issue 1: Safe Roads for Everyone – Road Danger Reduction. We have had a series of meetings with the Chief Constable and senior officers through our Road Justice campaign. The two recently published strategies from the police and council had much in common. However it is clear that the police are not currently using the collision data produced by the council to undertake targeted, intelligence-led enforcement nor are they an integral partner in delivering the council’s objectives.

Action: BCC needs to have a Road Danger Reduction forum to coordinate implementation of its action plan. The forum needs to involve the police’s lead on road safety matters, Superintendent Richard Corrigan, as well as representatives of vulnerable road users.

Discussion: We highlighted that the BCC and police pay a lot of attention to ‘The Fatal Four‘ (drink & drugs, mobile phones, speeding, no seatbelts) but none of the incidents examined in our Glos Rd study involved the Fatal 4. Overwhelmingly it was simply drivers not paying attention, and a road design that meant this had serious consequences on those walking and cycling. Also discussed how to get more Community Speedwatch schemes running and noted that it was often those who cycle who put in the most volunteer time.

Issue 2: Skilled Delivery team. Council engineering and project management resource are stretched to deliver the current programmes. There appears to be little capacity for the extra effort involved in achieving higher standards or more optimal and inspirational solutions. We believe there needs to be greater depth of experience of designing for cycling. Internal barriers remain between council departments and lack of support for innovation or quality outcomes. Outsourcing seems to produce ‘pragmatic’ and ‘deliverable’ designs that inevitably fall short of best practice.

Action: We need a Deputy Mayor or councillor to cut through issues as cycling champion / commissioner. Staff should be encouraged to join our 2015 study tour as part of their professional development.

Discussion: Mark Bradshaw expressed his disappointment at the lack of PR/engagement from Metrobus and undertook to talk to them via WoE Transport Group. He said that Ed Plowden has been his “enforcer” at trying to get more transparency and better results from schemes affecting cycling. We mentioned the importance in having a high level of inspiration and ambition across the council and that one officer had been on the 2014 BCyC Study Tour to Netherlands. Mark said that travel abroad was difficult and he thought it more effective/efficient to see good UK examples (if only we could find more than the occasional piecemeal schemes).

Issue 3: MetroCycle – Delivery plan for the Cycle Strategy. We feel Bristol should adopt the approach of the Welsh Active Travel Act through an audit of the ‘as is’ network, set out the ‘to be’ aspirations, and a phased delivery plan to get us there. Cycling must be prioritised at the same strategic level as public transport and roads within Bristol and West of England LEP strategic plans. At present important schemes and areas are currently considered ‘too big and too hard’. We also feel cycling lacks a compelling brand and marketing, as was achieved with Cycling City.

Action: Set up a “MetroCycle” programme within the West of England LEP and Joint Transport Board with a 10 year plan and investment programme. Bristol to lead this.

Discussion:  Mark agreed that the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP) needs a refresh. He is now chair of Infrastructure and Place LEP group which will be the place that this will emerge from. The Old City was highlighted as a good example of local plans and how special planning processes are being used. The Pithay showed how doing things in small steps without making too much fuss can be successful – taxis and drivers etc didn’t get too upset. Major Projects with long-term funding provision are needed to tackle the harder issues such as Park Row/ Inner Loop. Other areas such as Bedminster Roundabout will need to “wait till after Metrobus”. 

There was agreement on some key principles that should apply to all schemes, namely that they:

  • fit with the Strategic Cycle Network

  • provide for extensive “Home Zones” to build on 20mph and residents’ parking (RPS)

  • show ambition for “Dutch” infrastructure to be demonstrated in Bristol, specifically roundabouts; green phase junctions; segregation

Issue 4: Neighbourhood Partnerships. Every month decisions are made locally that affect the cycling environment (often negatively) through maintenance or small works by Neighbourhood Partnerships / Forums (NP/NFs). They make little contribution to strategic aims and may work against them. In addition council collision data is not shared with neighbourhoods so the evidence base for possible measures is not robust. To bed in the benefits of 20mph areas it is time to start addressing through traffic in residential and retail areas.

Action: BCC to enable each Neighbourhood Partnership to have a Local Sustainable Transport Plan setting out how they will improve walking, cycling, public transport.

Discussion: We made the case that each NP/NFs needs to be working towards delivering Local Sustainable Transport & Mobility Plans. In Greater Bedminster there is progress with walking and cycling routes and people-friendly streets. BCyC is working through local cycling groups in Cotham/Redland/Bishopston, Clifton & Cabot. We feel there is a lack of Council promotion/PR in selling the vision of sustainable transport and supporting measures such as 20mph and RPS.  Mark reports a 20% increase in bus travel. The Traffic Choices site good and especially tracker should help a lot in identifying and prioritising issues. Each NP is already tasked to produce a plan and this could say “must include chapter on sustainable travel (plan)”. There are also 5 areas that have Statutory Plan (Old Market, Old city, Kings Weston, Redcliff, Lockleaze). 

We asked if more could be done as part of schemes other schemes such as RPS eg cycle parking/crossings – Mark will talk to the team but already complicate enough with TROs and residents but may give some more benefits that resideants woulld appreciate. 

Issue 5: Cycle Forum. As a strategic and neighbourhood vision for cycling emerges within a sustainable transport system, the Bristol Cycling Forum should be a key element of engagement with neighbourhoods and businesses. Regular attendance or chairing by the Mayor or Deputy Mayor may help. As may including the delivery of the Walking Strategy as part of a broader ‘Active Travel Forum’.

Action:  The Cycling Champion should ensure an effective Cycle Forum.

Discussion: Mark is not comfortable in the role of “Cycle Champion” as he can’t cycle for medical reasons, but he warmed to the idea of Commissioner and said it was pretty much what he did already. We made the point that this role was not about getting more people to cycle, but about making Bristol attractive and welcoming to those who might consider riding cycles. It’s fine to use schools or other individuals to encourage others but that’s not the issue at hand. 

Mark said the council should work work together with BCyC to re-define the role of the Bristol Bike Forum – maybe as Active Travel and that a commissioner role might fit with this.

Overall it was a positive and encouraging meeting and Mark will respond to our paper in consultation with officers.