Making Bristol better for cycling

Downs Loop consultation – please show your support

Our friends at Cycle Sunday are currently running a public consultation on their proposal for the Downs Loop. This includes wide accessible paths to welcome all users, new raised crossings, and traffic calming (around Circular Road). Vicki Cracknell, from the Downs Loop campaign shares an update: We have been so inspired by a young woman called Eleanor who describes herself as an adaptive cyclist meaning she is unable to ride a traditional two-wheeled bike. She has attended all six car-free Cycle Sunday events and is passionate about creating new opportunities for people to enjoy cycling around the Downs. For…

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Liveable Neighbourhoods for Bristol campaign launches

Bristol Cycling Campaign has been busy leading on a campaign for Liveable Neighbourhoods for every area of the city. Working with other Bristol organisations we have published an open letter to the city council, asking it to roll out ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’ across Bristol by May 2024. To find out more about the campaign please visit the website, read the press release and follow on twitter. Liveable Neighbourhoods are residential neighbourhoods that contain traffic filters such as bollards or planters at strategic locations. The filters stop cars, vans and lorries from the…

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Road safety – why don’t we take it seriously?

Many of you will have seen the tragic rail crash in Aberdeenshire on the news where three people have sadly died. These are the first fatalities due to a derailment in the UK since 2007. Despite this very safe track record, a full and thorough investigation will be carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch. The investigation isn’t about assigning blame or making prosecutions – it will result in safety recommendations being made to both the infrastructure manager and the train operator to prevent or mitigate such an event in the future. Similar investigations occur in air travel,…

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King Street shows the way on pedestrianisation

One of Bristol’s most historic streets has been pedestrianised after a campaign by local businesses. Tom Swithinbank of Bristol Cycling Campaign finds out how the businesses of King Street helped to make it happen. It’s the home of the Old Vic and some of Bristol’s best-loved pubs, bars and restaurants. Now, after years of campaigning, cars no longer rumble over the cobbles of historic King Street in Bristol’s old town. It has taken six years of lobbying and considerable effort by local businesses to get to this point, not least by LDA Design who created the plans. But the…

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CyclingWorks Bristol campaign launches

CyclingWorks Bristol is a new campaign to bring together employers across our region to voice their support for infrastructure to enable safer commuting by bike. It is based on a successful model used in London, that was influential in the delivery of its first cycling superhighway. Can you help to get your employer to support this campaign? Visit the website to find out more: We suggest that you share this website with your sustainability lead or operations director in the first instance to start the conversation within your organisation. Business opinion does influence the decisions and…

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How a healthy streets approach will help Bristol bounce back – our July 2020 webinar [updated]

How has Bristol responded to the Covid19 crisis and how could the Healthy Streets approach aid our development of streets for people? After the success of our first webinar event (The Future of Cycling in Bristol – Webinar May 2020), we are delighted to share the recording of our July webinar. This was jointly hosted by Bristol Walking Alliance and Bristol Cycling Campaign with over 100 people attending on the night, a fantastic response. To watch the video please click here. We were really pleased with the engagement and feedback on the night, including:…

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Stop killing our children

While our streets look like something from the 1950s in the midst of coronavirus lockdown, we need to rethink what ‘normal’ looks like. Stop Killing our Children is a documentary crowdfunded and produced by our friends at ETA Trust (ethical insurance with strong cycle offering). It is a review of where the Dutch are fifty years after their transformative campaign for road danger reduction. So why are we talking about this at a website for a Bristol advocacy group? Becase it makes us realise how much death and destruction in our streets has become normalised over recent decades. Traffic congestion…

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Yes, Bristol’s sign-only 20mph intervention reduces speed (yet another study finds)

We’re big fans of the Essential Evidence series of one page summaries of peer-reviewed literature on current transport policies and practice. This is produced by Bristol based Dr Adrian Davis in order to ensure that academic research and evidence informs implementation of planning and policy. Although sadly one recent summary shows that politicians are far more resistant to this than professionals and communities (No 187: Examining the politics of transport planning). Summary No 185 is another confirmation of the robustness and effectiveness of the city-wide Bristol scheme, The effectiveness of a 20mph speed limit intervention on vehicle…

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Our response to the 20mph consultation

20mph speed limits on most streets and roads in Bristol has been one of Bristol Cycling’s campaigns (Twenty’s Plenty) from the beginning. We encouraged as many BCyC members as possible to respond to the consultation in 2018 (7 Reasons Einstein would support 20 mph) and we were pleased at the overwhelmingly positive response the council received. We put in our own formal submission as well, as below or click here Response to 20mph consultation 2018. Introduction The ability to cycle safely on low speed, low traffic streets is essential in providing a comprehensive cycle network in Bristol. In…

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20 mph and the Clean Air Zone

Bristol City Councils 20 mph review finishes today. In this consultation, the potential of 20 mph to help meet the National Air Quality Objectives (NAQOs) for NO2 and PM10 emissions, for which Bristol exceeds, has almost completely been ignored.

Instead, a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) has been proposed to tackle this as part of central governments Clean Air Framework. A CAZ would attempt to reduce air pollution by encouraging residents and businesses to purchase a cleaner car. A scrappage scheme has even been mooted as a way to kick-start this.

A CAZ might encourage some people to leave their car at home but it would have nowhere near the benefits of 20 mph limits.

One of the key infrastructure requirements for a CAZ is Auto Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. These are the same yellow cameras used along the M32 to enforce speed limits. They are one of the most effective measures for speed enforcement, ensuring drivers stick to the speed limits within the zone. Surely it would make sense to simply install these cameras to enforce the 20 mph speed limits that are already in place?

From Bristol Cycling’s perspective, 20 mph zones are only positive for Bristol. We recently highlighted the key benefits of 20 mph. In summary, 20 mph limits:

Reduce Collisions and lessen their severity when they do happen. A driver seeing a danger travelling at 30mph would have travelled 9 metres before they even pressed the brake pedal and another 14m to come to a stop. At 20 mph the overall stopping distance is half that. This makes a collision less likely in the first place. The kinetic energy of a 1419kg Nissan Qashqai car travelling at 20 mph is 15.7 Wh. If the vehicle didn’t stop in time, this would be the energy felt by the object it hits. Increase this speed by 50% to 30 mph and the kinetic energy goes up by 125% i.e. it more than doubles to 35.4 Wh. To put this in comparison, the energy of a 90kg cyclist at 20 mph is 0.9 Wh and a 70kg jogger at 5mph, 0.05 Wh. This video of an appalling collision in Wales demonstrates the huge amount of energy in a moving car.
A car braking from 30 mph to a stop puts more than double the energy through the brakes, tyres and roads than the same car stopping from 20 mph, increasing particulates (PM) from the brakes, tyres and road, contributing to poorer air quality. It also puts more strain on the road surface making damage and potholes more likely.
20 mph has also been shown to reduce noise from vehicles. A car travelling at 20 mph instead of 30 mph can emit almost 10db less noise. 10 db is perceived by the human ear to be a halving of noise. Studies in Sweden, Germany and the UK, have consistently found 2—5 db noise reductions at the roadside from 30 kph (20mph) limits.
20 mph Improves traffic flow and reduces journey time. Countless studies have found 20 mph reduces the concertina effect of traffic and reduces congestion.
Acceleration is the most energy-intensive stage of driving. Lower speed limits mean less time on the accelerator pedal and reduced fuel consumption. Considering a hypothetical a 16km journey with 25 stops and starts a car only accelerating to 20 mph will spend nearly a minute less on the accelerator than if it reached 30 mph. Although this does not directly correlate with emissions, a detailed study in London found (unenforced) 20 mph limits reduced NO2 air pollution concentrations at the roadside.

Over the past few weeks, Bristol Cycling has been campaigning hard to raise awareness of the 20 mph consultation. The criticism we hear time after time is that 20 mph isn’t enforced* and that “no one really travels at 20mph”. This isn’t a reason to scrap it, it is a reason to do it properly and see what the real benefits could be.

We’ve not heard anyone suggest the CAZ could be left to chance police patrols to enforce, so why has 20mph?

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