Tag Archives: Gloucester Road

A Modest Proposal #6; Eight to Eighty cycling on Gloucester Road

Did you know that Gloucester Road was one of Bristol’s busiest cycle routes (Building on success – lessons from Gloucester Road)? What’s more, the number of people cycling has doubled in the last ten years whereas motor vehicle numbers have dropped by a fifth. These facts can be seen from Department for Transport Traffic Counts.

So what does this tell us? Bristol’s Cycling City money has been well spent? Not quite. Significant Cycling City money was not spent on Gloucester Road infrastructure as the end of project report makes clear. In fact people on bikes are using this route despite, not because of, its facilities for them.

As anyone who has cycled into, or out of, the City on Gloucester Road knows the only “cycling infrastructure” is, essentially, paint and bus lanes. And bus lanes are for both a human on a bike (100 kilos) and a double decker (15 tons) – hardly fair or equal!

Gloucester Road is popular because it goes where people on bikes want to go; travelling, often commuting, in and out of the City Centre from the

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Growing support for Space4Cycling by Bristol Mayoral candidates

All the main candidates have now responded to our Space for Cycling Bristol Mayoral manifesto. However, the level of measureable commitment varies!

The next Bristol Mayor faces huge challenges in addressing our chronic problems of congestion and pollution. Support for cycling as a mass transport solution has huge public support as shown by the Bristol Bike Life 2015 report where 7 in 10 people want to see more spent on safer cycling infrastructure.

Recent experience from London shows that investing in Space for Cycling not only increases road capcity overall, but motor traffic moves more freely. The Mayor of London has just published HUMAN STREETS: THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR CYCLING THREE YEARS ON where he says: “Our original painted lanes were revolutionary at the time. But knowing what I do now, we would have blasted ahead with our new segregated cycle lanes from the beginning”.

The learning from the London Mayor applies just as much to Bristol “The key factor is political leadership. Everyone supports cycling – until it involves doing anything meaningful. … So for years in this country, we did half-hearted cycling schemes that upset nobody but also, bluntly, helped nobody and changed nothing”.

This is why everyone in Bristol is looking to the new Mayor to offer something more than words. Our Mayoral manifesto identifies two key priorities that are the key to unlock the potential for Bristol to become a true Cycling City. As you consider the statements of the candidates below, and at the mayoral hustings on transport tonight, 20th April, consider these questions:

  1. Will you create protected Space for Cycling on the Gloucester Rd?

  2. Will you support a  Living Heart for Bristol by removing through motor traffic from Anchor Rd, Park St, Haymarket, Baldwin St and Prince St?

Extracts from candidate statements

Kay Barnard – Lib Dem
I support the Space for Cycling campaign to improve facilities and infrastructure for cyclists in Bristol.  I am myself a cyclist but rarely cycle in Bristol because of the poor infrastructure and lack of safety.Full statement from Kay Barnard [Lib Dem]

Tony Dyer – Green Party
It is my intention to rebalance Bristol’s transport network by improving public and active transport – the latter includes both walking and cycling. By providing a range of attractive travel alternatives to sitting in a car stuck in a traffic jam breathing in car fumes, I believe that we can deliver a far cleaner, less congested, much healthier, city. A city fit for the 21st centuryFull statement from Tony Dyer [Greens]

George Ferguson  Bristol 1st 
I am one hundred percent behind the cycling manifesto. In my first term we have continued to deliver an enormous amount, including cycling ambition funding for more segregation and are currently building new paths and increasing the number of cycle stands. Full statement from George Ferguson [Bristol 1st]

Charles Lucas – Conservative
I wholeheartedly support safe cycling for all including segregated cycle lanes where practical and possible, as part of an integrated transport policy but not at the expense of all other road users. A balanced approach is required at all times. Full statement from Charles Lucas [Conservative]

Marvin Rees  Labour
I support cycling. Not only does it have obvious health benefits in keeping people fit and improving the air quality, but it has social benefits too, getting people out and about, talking to each other, experiencing life.   I want to make cycling an ordinary part of everyday life. That means safety and space on roads. It also means developing the image of cycling and changing the nature of the conversation from competitive to co-operative. Full statement from Marvin Rees [Labour]

Whatever the current  level of commitment by each candidate whoever gets in will need give greater priority to cycling infrastructure (as London is successfully doing), walking and public transport  if the city is to reduce the congestion and future proof the city as its population continues to grow.

 

Road Justice – tolerating the intolerable

Every week in Bristol someone is either killed or seriously injured in road traffic incidents. If this happened on a building site it would be closed down. If one or two people were killed or injured at an amusement park there would be a HSE inquiry. On our roads these figures, and the pain and loss they represent, are accepted as the result of inevitable “accidents” rather than the predictable and avoidable incidents which they are.

Why do we tolerate this?

How can it be that 9 out of 10 cases will not be prosecuted, even when the police say the driver is at fault?

Our Road Justice group has recently provided evidence to the parliamentary Transport Committee enquiry on road traffic law enforcement.

This is following the Committee’s launch of the enquiry scrutinising the government’s policies to improve road safety. One of its items of reference “The impact of road traffic law enforcement on the safety of cyclists and pedestrians” is of obvious concern to us.

Despite very short notice, the Bristol Road Justice Group has made a submission to the Committee which can be viewed below. Our evidence drew on the work we have done highlighting the lack of enforcement in relation to incidents on the Gloucester Road and in relation to injuries caused by vehicle doorings (please see our Gloucester Road and Dooring articles).

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Emergency Admissions to Hospital and Cyclists

There are two main sources of information on road traffic incidents causing injury and involving cyclists; both have their strong and weak points. Police incident records, known as STATS19 reports, give a specific location for the incident and a brief, sometimes too brief, narrative on what happened. In many cases, from reading these reports, it is possible to work out who was at fault in an incident. We however know that there is a degree of underreporting and the police themselves have some concerns as to the accuracy of reports. They are used by the Council’s Highway and Transport Management department to plot the location of incidents on their mapping website, analyse trends and rank contributory factors.

The Council’s Directorate of Public Health also produce figures for emergency admissions of Bristolians to hospital due to transport related “accidents” (their use of the term). Whilst these figures only cover Bristol residents and cover their travelling anywhere in the country, the findings are considered to be representative of incidents occurring in Bristol. Whilst thought to be more comprehensive than the police’s reports, incidents are not identifiable by street location and, while the STATS19 records identify the types of road user, they don’t identify the factors causing the road traffic injuries.

So what do emergency admission stats tell us about cyclists and road traffic incidents in Bristol?

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Building on success – lessons from Gloucester Road

Who knew that Gloucester Road was a brilliantly successful cycle route? Numbers at peak times have doubled over the last decade while motor vehicle numbers have dropped by a fifth.

We know this because traffic flow data from an annual census published online by the Office for National Statistics allow detailed analyses and comparisons for cycling levels on major routes at a local level. About 100 census points around the city are monitored for a full day and all forms of traffic are counted. See Cycling Trends in Bristol for more.

If a road like this, with very poor provision for cycling, can show a steady increase in cycling over a sustained period we can be very confident that Bristol City Council is right in making cycling a significant part of its transport policy for the future. People are making a big effort to use bicycles, even on roads like this. This gives the Council an opportunity, and a responsibility, to respond in an even more confident terms than their new Cycle Strategy sets out.

Take a look at the table and the graph. The numbers are impressive and the graph makes it clear.

Changes in vehicle counts on Gloucester Rd 200 and 2013 Traffic count data taken from DfT

Bicycle travel has been going up steadily over ten years. It has doubled while car and taxi traffic has gone down by a fifth. Whatever the underlying causes, the message is clear: cycling can thrive in adverse conditions and if given proper space it could make a huge contribution to public health, to well being and to the economy of Bristol.

This is not just a “cycling” thing for “cyclists”. The fact that so many people have been using this route while other modes of transport dwindle suggests a strong trend that wants to run. Ten years is hardly a fad. Ten years’ growth is significant and we think Bristol City Council has every right to feel and act very bullish about the future of cycling as a much bigger part of a greener and healthier future for the City.

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