Cycling news from Bristol and beyond

Bike Life Bristol 2019 report finds safety is the single largest barrier to more people cycling

In case you needed any convincing of the scale of both the challenge and opportunity for cycling in Bristol, Sustrans have released their excellent Bike Life report for 2019. This follows on from the 2017 and 2015 reports and highlights many of the barriers to cycling in Bristol but also some of the huge opportunities and potential in the city: 350,000 people live within a 25 minute cycle of ‘The Galleries’ 73% of people think space should be increased for people socialising, walking and cycling on their local high street 28% of residents cycle at least once a week. 23% don’t cycle…

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A Modest Proposal #8: Jamaica St cycleway

Every cyclist in Bristol will have their own strategy for coping with the James Barton roundabout, one of the worst in Bristol and the subject of our Modest Proposal #5: The Bear Pit / St James Barton Roundabout. Particularly as the Gloucester Road is one of the busiest cycling routes in the city, with its own  Modest Proposal #6; Eight to Eighty cycling on Gloucester Road. Most of us make use of Jamaica Street, but it can’t be called pleasant. It also boast some of the oldest and most idiosycratic ‘cycling facilities’ in Bristol. How about this ‘Modest Proposal’…

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Bristol Cycling Infographics

Here at Bristol Cycling, we love an infographic. Recently we have had a lot of emails from people asking if they can use the infographics we have produced. The short answer is an overwhelming YES! The only reason we put these together is so they will be shared. We don’t make any money from advertising, clicks or copyright, our primary purpose is to make Bristol better for cycling. We want our messages to be spread far and wide.

In order to facilitate this we thought it would be useful to provide a summary of some of the infographic work we have produced over recent years. PLEASE share/print/publish far as far and wide as you can. You can see them all here.

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6 reasons to make cycling to work your New Year’s resolution

Cycling rates are increasing year on year in Bristol. However, the motor car is still the dominant transport mode for commuting in the UK. So why not make your New Year’s resolution to leave the car at home and get on your bike to and from the office. Here are 6 good reasons why it makes sense:

Weight loss. Potentially the most common resolution, but how many people actually stick out the tedium of the gym? A comprehensive study carried out by the University of East Anglia found that switching from a car to walking, cycling, or public transport was associated with a statistically significant average weight loss of around 1 kg a person, on average. The longer the commute, the stronger was the association, with a weight loss of around 2 kg associated with journeys of more than 10 minutes, and 7 kg associated with journeys of more than 30 minutes [1]. And, whilst an electric bike (e-bike) won’t give you the same workout as a purely pedal powered bicycle, studies found weight loss amongst non-cyclists to be greater when they used an e-bike over a normal bike [2]. E-bikes still require more movement for passengers than being completely stationary in a motor vehicle, yet they help overcome perceived barriers to cycling, such as hills, distance to destination and worry about arriving sweaty. Cycle commuting is also associated with a lower risk of Cardiovascular Disease, cancer, and generally mortality [3].
Work Less. The average UK worker earns £27,200 annually [4]. It is estimated that owning a car costs on average £5,814 a year [5]. That’s 21% of an average annual salary or 1 hour 43 minutes of every typical 8 hour day spent on owning a car. Commuting by bicycle is estimated to cost £275 per year [6], which, by the same calculation equates to 5 minutes of every working day. Add to this the improvements in concentration and associated performance [18] and forget about having to work overtime.
Breath Cleaner Air. It is estimated that if the UK hit its walking and cycling targets over 13,000 lives would be saved every year [7]. But whilst it is obvious that bicycles emit fewer emissions than cars, it’s less well known that cyclists are exposed to far less pollution in cities than car drivers [8].
More free time. Average journey speeds in cities at rush hour are often painfully slow. In Bristol it is estimated to be just over 7mph [9] (note: this doesn’t mean car drivers move at a steady 7mph around the city), well below the speed any level of ability and fitness can ride a bicycle, often mooted as 12mph (try it, simply sit on a bike on a flat road and turn the pedals and you’ll be travelling at 12mph). Not only will a bicycle get you more reliably to your destination, but it will also give you a workout, meaning less time needed to attend fitness classes or the gym. When cycling it is also much easier to park up and drop into shops that otherwise would have warranted a dedicated journey.
Get Fewer Colds. It might seem logical that being outside in all weathers would punish your body, but on the contrary, cycling has been repeatedly linked with increased “T-Cells” which boost immune function and lower the risk of virus’s taking hold [10][11].
Pay less tax. Not because cyclists (like everyone else) “don’t pay road tax”, but because the damage motor vehicles cause, costs taxpayers dear. An average weight car (1384kg) with an average UK person (76.9kg) does 53,643 times the damage of the same person on a (very heavy) 20kg bicycle, rolling over the surface of the road [12]  majority of the estimated £14 billion repair bill footed by taxpayers. Air pollution is estimated to cost the UK as much as £54 billion every year [14], with each car in London costing the taxpayer £8,000 [15]. Collisions caused by motor vehicles £35 billion [16] and noise pollution from traffic as much as £10 billion [17].

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The Downs. No Cycling? Or a car-free leisure route?

Why we need space for cycling on the Downs. The annual Cycle Sunday event is a brilliant way to demonstrate the huge demand for car-free cycling around the Downs to the Downs Committee, who manage this beautiful area. (To those unfamiliar with Bristol, the Clifton and Durdham Downs lie to the north of the city centre and overlook the ecologically significant Avon Gorge). We can expect between one and three thousand people to attend these family-friendly events (depending on the weather). People of all ages and abilities come to enjoy a stress-free cycle without the worry and ‘woosh’ factor of…

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7 Reasons Einstein would support 20 mph

ACTION:  Please take a moment to respond to the Bristol 20mph Review
Our lives fundamentally rely on energy. It puts food on our table, gets us to and from work, powers our offices and factories. The more we use, the more money it costs us. Our demand for it causes wars, our generation of it emits harmful gases.

Almost every issue 20mph raises is energy related and the answer to each, along with many of our urban challenges, can be found by looking for the lowest energy solution.

Energy dictates the severity of a collision, how much fuel is burnt to move somewhere and the volume of emissions that activity will release. The more energy we put through car components and the road surface the quicker they will break and wear out. The faster a vehicle moves the more noise it generates.

Yet energy is rarely mentioned. Despite apparent concerns over climate change and air pollution, sales of energy-hungry SUVs are soaring, up 24% across Europe this year and on course to become the most common cars on our roads.

So in this time of “fake news” and manipulation of facts, what better way to argue a case than with some basic physics. Just as keen cyclist Albert Einstein might have done. Here are the seven reasons (also as an infographic here):

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The staggering cost of motoring

Last month many of you will have received Bristol Councils “Council tax explained” leaflet, explaining where our council tax pounds are spent. The centre page of this is an infographic summarising costs per household. Transport services set us back £83.52 and highways £29.26. Reading into the images used, this might be interpreted as tax payers forking out 3 times more for cycling and public transport than highways infrastructure (which cyclists also use). However regardless of how much Bristol Council spend on transport, these figures pale into insignificance when compared with how much many of us fork out of our own pockets each year.

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Cycling vs the Electric Car

Electric vehicles have received a lot of press over the past few months. This furore has even led some to suggest that EVs are more efficient than food powered humans riding bicycles.

So we at Bristol Cycling have put together an unapologetically technical article in an attempt to shed some light on this.

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Induced Traffic and Traffic Evaporation

The recent debate on the proposed Callington “Relief” Road has brought the concept of “induced traffic” back into the limelight. And also the the related and much neglected evidence for “reduced traffic“, or the delightful concept of “traffic evaporation”. So what do these terms mean? Induced Traffic As car ownership and use have increased over the past 30 years the reaction to the pressure created by additional traffic demand has often been to increase the level of supply, in other words, provide additional road space. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that the benefits of…

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Knowing where to spend money

There is much insight to be gained from data, given the right perspective. One of the most alarming figures is that 129,000 people drive to work in the city of Bristol. Of those, 57,603 (44.6%) live within a 20 minute, 5km, bicycle ride to work. It’s worth pausing to let that sink in. Nearly half of Bristol commuter drivers live within a 20 minute bicycle ride to work. Adam Reynolds of CycleBath has emerged from sitting in a dark room with a wet towel round his head with a very practical illustration of Bristol traffic flows that won a recent Hackathon.

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