Tag Archives: Living Heart

Manifesto for Council Candidates – May 2016

We have produced a BCyC Manifesto for 2016 Council Elections candidates setting out key questions for the elections on May 5th. This is part of our Space for Cycling campaign. You can add your voice to the campaign by signing the petition. See also our manifesto for candidates standing for the Mayor, and for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Manifesto for Council Candidates

  • Cycling is good for Bristol – and more cycling is better
  • 8 in 10 people want Bristol to be better for cycling
  • Cycling in Bristol means sharing space with intimidating motor traffic, or with pedestrians. No-one is happy
  • Two thirds of people consider cycling too risky for them
  • Bristol has a target to achieve 20% cycling by 2020 with profound benefits to wellbeing, congestion, environment and prosperity
  • The only proven way to deliver this is to provide a continuous and dedicated cycling network, to Triple A standards – for All Ages and Abilities.

Our councillors must work to help create an environment whereby it is easier for us to make choices that are good for us, good for our neighbourhood, and good for our city. We are calling on candidates and councillors to support Space for Cycling, for the benefit of everyone.

Questions for Candidates on specific priorities

  1. Will you work to make your ward and neighbourhood a better place to cycle and walk, so that people can travel safely to work, to school, to shop, to play, and to green spaces?

  2. Will you do all you can to deliver the specific improvement in your ward identified at bristolcyclingcampaign.org.uk/wards?

General Questions for Candidates

  1. Will you support and help produce a good transport plan for your ward and neighbourhood which puts people first, and particularly the young, the old and the disadvantaged? Streets for All in residential areas means low speeds, continuous pavements across side streets, no rat running or through traffic, and all streets open for cycling, including one-way contraflows.

  2. Will you press for Space for Cycling in your ward generally? This means protected space on high volume and 30mph roads and at busy junctions. It means accepting no less than ‘Triple A’ standards of design, construction & maintenance, for All Ages and Abilities. It means having safe routes to school, to work, to shops, and to green spaces.

  3. Will you work towards a Living Heart for your neighbourhood? This means public spaces that are not dominated by through motor traffic, that have plenty of cycle parking and where people are the priority, not traffic.

  4. Do you recognise that some changes will be controversial and will you stand up for those with most to gain but whose voices are often not heard – the young, the old and the disadvantaged?

Huge response to Space for Cycling survey

We have had over 600 responses to our survey on what people think about cycling in Bristol.

Most responses were from those who cycle regularly, 73% cycle more than 3 times a week, and the main motivations were for excecise and pleasure, commuting, and concern for environment

There is strong support for removing motor traffic from shopping areas to create ‘Living Hearts’. and 3 out of 4 saya there’s not enough secure cycle parking. People want police to priortise cycle theft.

in 20mph local areas half support further traffic slowing measures, but others feel these don’t help cycling and cause other problems. Removing though traffic and favouring residents is popular.

In 30mph areas a whopping 85%+ want PROTECTED cycle lanes and separate cyclelanes around roundabouts and major junctions, with over 70% wanting priority to pedestrians and cyclists at junctions.

In general there is strong support for the 6 main asks behind our Space for Cycling campaign. We’re launching the 2016 phase in March ready for the May elections.

Details of what needs doing is clearly set out in these Three guides to Space for Cycling.

Here are some of the things people said:

  • “We need plenty of cycle parking. On a wet autumn day I struggled to find a free stand in Broadmead. There is only designated cycle parking space at the top and the bottom of Park Street.”
  • “I’m all for reduuction in cars and through traffic. I also drive, but I have no need to travel at high speeds unless I’m on a motor way”
  • “I honestly have no idea how to make it safer other than giving cyclist a safer route that avoids it entirely. I’m looking at you Lawrence Hill Roundabout! You scary son of a bitch.”
  • “Separate cycle ways will only work if they are joined up – you have to be able to get on and off in the right places easily, or they just won’t be used.”
  • “A white line on a pavement is not cycle infrastructure. Cannot stand this cop out cheap solution as it is dangerous, hated by cyclists and pedestrians alike. The only group who win are car drivers.”
  • “Bristol is still confusing in the way cycle lanes integrate with the rest of the world… Turning on and off sometimes and disappearing. This is very noticeable when I have taken my children cycling and have tried to enable them in use of cycle lanes for safe cycling but it’s hard to communicate the elaborate thought processes I can do as an adult cyclist around the more confusing streets of Bristol! But I love that it’s always improving and that cyclists have more space and there is more awareness of our needs we just need more to enable people who are too scared of the roads to join us.”
  • “Cycle infrastructure in Bristol is poor quality and disjointed. Most are just footpaths, many are unsafe to ride on and cyclists are always lowest priority at junctions. Signage for cycle paths are unclear and lead to confusion and conflict.”
  • “I am a keen cyclist..but never really fancy cycling in Bristol.. it’s far too congestred and shared space with cars is so dangerous. I really don’t quite understand the reason Bristol got to be a Green capital!”
  • “I do not approve entirely of segregation between cars & bikes. I took some free cycling lessons with my local council and know it’s possible to cycle safely in traffic if you position yourself properly, especially when making turns. More awareness and education for cyclists & drivers rather than giving anyone preferences to fuel animosity would be an ideal solution.”
  • “In the UK/Bristol, I find that both people on bicycles (I don’t call myself a cyclist as it implies lycra, a hi-vis-vest, a helmet and annoying flashy lights) and people in cars have quite a misunderstanding about their responsibility to general road safety. As long as there is not an established road design including separated lanes the roads have to be shared in a sensible way. Education from young age is the key in this. I’d say to take countries like The Netherlands and Denmark as a proper example on bicycle friendly road design. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel in the UK.”
  • “Lack of continuous cycle lanes is awful. I lived in Holland, and the separated cycle lanes were amazing. I felt incredibly safe and cycled EVERYWHERE to the point where when I moved to Bristol I had to relearn how to walk!”
  • “Where routes popular with cyclists are too narrow to accommodate cycle lanes, I feel we should start removing parking places as a possible solution. We need to stop being so precious about parking spaces.”

Separation between pedestrians and cyclists in a ‘Living Heart’

Guest blog from member WJH

I suspect we could be in danger of being sold a pup by agreeing to the Living Heart separation proposals. The general principle of separation is good, even essential, for reasonably fast cycle travel. Broadmead is a problem, and the proposal is good, especially if they add cycle stands near the central cross roads, and if the contraflow is sensibly arranged, but many continental cities do have pedestrian areas in which cycles and people on foot mix quite happily.

For example, mixing seems to work well in these areas:

  • Grenoble– old town pedestrian area (and outside the station – despite the feature in the photo)
  • Milano – Piazza del Duomo, Via Dante (4)
  • Trento – cathedral square
  • Verona – old town pedestrian (more or less) area

Broadmead is probably a hard case because it does get too crowded and I suspect because of uniquely British social characteristics – cycling, being generally unpopular, has an unusual proportion of the rougher classes, who cannot be trusted to ride carefully among people on foot, and a national tendency to grumble about things that in reality do not affect the grumbler at all. 

The risk of an uncritical approach to segregation is that any area closed to motor vehicles will automatically be closed to cyclists. This actually happened in Cambridge with the main N-S route through the centre being closed for over a decade (“ban the bike ban“), which does point to pedestrianisation as a concept that is often based on driving to the pedestrian area car park and not upon sustainable travel. ITA and Greater Bristol enthusiasts should note that this was also a case of the County authority using its transport responsibility to implement a closure that was not wanted by the City council.

The other problem with this separation approach is the fantasy that marking out clear cycle lanes through pedestrian areas will keep a route clear. People on foot will wander all over them anyway, which is what you can observe any day on the Downs cycle track with its unused parallel pavement for foot passengers. In fact out here in the quiet and leafy suburbs old ladies wander into the road itself without looking more often than you would expect.

Castle Park cycle route also suffers from wandering pedestrians, On a recent visit, despite there not being very many people about, people on foot walked equally on the cycle track and on the footpath, almost like across the Downs, except that in Castle Park some people do actually walk on the footway. So much for separation – and remember this is one of the examples on the Living Heart website showing the virtues of separation. If separation does not occur here then it is unlikely in any more populated public space, like Broadmead or the Centre. One of the other pictures they show was equally irrelevant, the one, possibly in Holland, showing a separated cycle track beside a road, on what looked like a suburban estate, with about three people in sight.

The rest of the route to Temple Meads hardly bears description.

If there is a problem with the centre in Bristol it is probably the great variety of fancy surfaces, which provide a constraint on routes that hinders avoiding people. (I have always wondered why the cycle track across College Green has a bumpier surface than the adjacent footway).

In the Grenoble photo you can see that there are ‘elephants foot’ style cycle markings but no lane as such, except through the give way sign. The route across Broadmead should be marked in this way. 

In pursuing this the following points about cycle provision on the page need greater prominence than they are given:

  • ensuring that routes are not lost to road or pedestrianisation schemes

  • ensuring that space is taken from general traffic not pedestrians

The whole page should really be headed “Proper provision for cyclists” with “Not squeezed onto the pavement” as a subheading, and the page rearranged to match the heading, (and avoiding giving complementary mentions to any cycling facility in Bristol).

BCyC member Sam Saunders has a collection of photos of Bristol shared space. I think they tend to support my point that painting lanes in public spaces like squares is mostly pointless, whatever Living Heart may think. The photos generally show the existing situation with people in squares mixing without division, apparently quite happily.

Where there is division you see interesting things like the man riding down the middle of a two way space exactly between the bicycle signs for opposite direction of travel. The picture of about half a dozen cyclists in Baldwin Street does not really tell us what it would be like as a two way route in rush hour, because they are all going one way, which is fortunate, because two of them are on the ‘wrong’ side of the path.

What they also show is that separate cycle provision in public spaces in the UK is an affair of bollards, sharp turns, white lines, continual changes of surface and fussy detail.  (Is the woman walking across a sort of white bar zebra one of those approaching Temple Meads that are marked “Cyclists Dismount”?) The Gardner Haskins Gap is currently showing extra advert bollards in between the official bollards.

So although allowing cyclists to cross public spaces closed to motor vehicles is an essential part of urban permeability, it is not going to get anyone anywhere either quickly or simply.   Painting lanes through these spaces is probably a waste of time, and also lead to a general belief that closing routes to motor vehicles means closing them to cycles – the Cambridge situation.

Unfortunately this is not an academic issue, Living Heart appear to be on the loose with a scheme to do something about cycling in Broadmead, probably involving pointless  lane painting and banning cycling as a single point activity without any real plan to integrate cycling into the city centre. 


More Separation Between Pedestrians & Cyclists

Update 28/02/2014: Article in the Bristol Post.

The Living Heart campaign has issued the following statement which has been endorsed by us at BCyC, with the caveat that we don’t want to see any No Cycling signs, preferring that desirable routes are signed to encourage cycles away from crowded pedestrian areas (such as Broadmead).


The Living Heart for Bristol has called for a change of policy on the sharing or separation of cyclists and pedestrians.  The Living Heart includes pedestrian and cycling organisations amongst its members.  As the Council is examining new plans for The Centre, and various new cycle routes, the Living Heart has called for “clear cycle routes through pedestrian areas instead of the current free-for-all”.  Pointing to best practice in European cities, the Living Heart has published a list of places where better separation is needed, including The Centre, Broadmead, the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path and Old Market. 

Details and examples are shown on our website.  This argues that “where volumes are high, and space is limited, separation is better than sharing…If space is in short supply, planners should look to remove space from general traffic rather than squeezing cyclists and pedestrians together.”  The neighbourhood plan for Old Market is showing a narrowing from four to two lanes, which the Living Heart would support, but surprisingly, no cycle path.

Spokesman Steve Melia said:

“This country has suffered from many silly fashions in planning and urban design.  One of these is the idea that it’s good to force cyclists and pedestrians to share space.  This policy is failing.  It is causing unnecessary conflict.  To achieve the sort of liveable city we all want, we need a new approach, building clearly marked, separating cyclists and pedestrians where volumes are high, and giving more space to both.  European cities like Groningen and Odense can show us how it can be done.  There are even some reasonable examples in Bristol: the separate cycle path through Castle Park, for example.”

Sue Carter of the Ramblers Association said:

“Walking in Bristol should be an  enjoyable experience. All too often,  competing for space with cyclists – as well as contending with cars, traffic signals and other pedestrians  – makes it very stressful. We need cycling and walking routes to be clearly separated”

Martin Tweddell of the Bristol Cycling Campaign said:

“Living Heart’s idea to separate cycling and walking in busy areas is a very sensible one which would come at minimal cost to the city and is supported by BCyC in our Freedom to Ride Manifesto

Steve Melia added:

“Where the organisations representing pedestrians and cyclists are both saying the same thing, it’s time for transport planners and urban designers to take notice.”

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