Tag Archives: Living Heart

Road Rage on Nelson Street

If you’ve had problems riding this road please let us know

If you’re cycling along Nelson Street perhaps you should wear a flak jacket or, at least, a GoPro camera. In the last couple of months two of our members have reported road rage incidents involving buses and bikes.

A bit of an uneven battle you might think 15 tons against 15 kilos. Double decker buses pick on someone your own size!

But this is serious; someone might get hurt. Observations by our members suggest that these incidents are the tip of the iceberg, with many other cyclists suffering similar intimidation. As usual most cyclists, accept their second class status, just give way, get off the bike, get on the pavement, inconvenience pedestrians etc.

Legally, of course, we don’t have to do that. The cycle contraflow on Nelson Street heading towards the Centre is in force. The paint has worn thin (we suggested repainting to the Council) but the signs are clearly there and drivers must obey them; even FirstBus drivers are not above the law! Please don’t try to run cyclists off the road!

Our members have complained to FirstBus and reported the incidents to the Police but, of course, nothing was done. We have suggested bus drivers should receive instruction and training and have made our fears known to the Council. Really all we want is that buses keep to their side of the road give way to cyclists on the contraflow before overtaking and don’t overtake bikes heading to Broadmead, given the lack of space.

We sympathise with bus drivers; it’s not their fault; they should not be put in this position. Nelson Street is far too narrow a road to be used as a main bus route and, in fact, dual carriageway. The fault lies with the road design and use.

The Council have plans for Nelson Street and are well aware of our views as to their inadequacy. https://bristolcycling.org.uk/nelson-street-a-messy-chaotic-street/ If you’ve been the victim of, or witnessed, an incident on Nelson Street please let us know at infrastructure@bristolcycling.org.uk or come to one of our meet ups https://bristolcycling.org.uk/diary/ The next is 6pm Thursday 12 July at King William Ale House, 20 King St, Bristol BS1 4EF.

Something should be done before someone is seriously hurt or worse.

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 creating additional road capacity are not as significant as was previously believed. In many cases, the provision of new road links simply increases congestion problems. This occurs through a process that is known as traffic ‘induction’. In 1994, the UK Government-commissioned Sactra report provided evidence on the impact of new road building on traffic levels in the area of the scheme. The report revealed that when new road capacity is provided, overall traffic levels in the vicinity of the scheme actually increase. The evidence does not offer a reliable means of predicting the extent of this traffic increase but case studies suggest that it is typically around 10 % in the short term, and 20 % in the longer term. In our cities, such as Bristol, there is an additional reason as to why the provision of additional road capacity is problematic for city planners — there is simply a lack of available space in which to expand.

Two recent reports from the Campaign to Protect Rural England on “the Impact of Road Projects in England” and “The End of the Road, Challenging the Road Building Consensus” discuss the latest evidence on the failure of road building projects to do anything more than attract more cars, increasing noise, air pollution and accidents. There is also is sound research evidence to back the benefits and impacts of pedestrian improvements and road closures as set out in the new website from the UWE Centre for Transport and Society.

Traffic Evaporation

So if building or widening roads causes more traffic, what happens when capacity is restricted or redirected? Chaos, surely? Well the evidence points to something else, something that unexpected, a phenomenon that has been called traffic evaporation, disappearing traffic, traffic suppression, or, more generally, reduced demand. The fact is that some traffic is displaced to other modes, and some simply vanishes, with no seeming inconvenience or disruption.

Case Study – Wolverhampton Town Centre

This case study examines a response to intense traffic congestion, worsening environmental conditions and declining economic activity in Wolverhampton in the face of competition from other shopping centres in the city of Telford to the west, and the Merry Hill complex to the south-east, and additional planned retail centres. In 1986, the local authority commissioned ‘The Black Country Integrated Transport study’ which concluded that building more roads would not solve the growing transport problems.

A more effective strategy would be to give greater priority to public transport and to put greater emphasis on improving the urban environment by creating an attractive physical space that would meet the public’s expectations. The response was a four-stage strategy, central to which was the removal of approximately 8 000 through-traffic cars per day from the city centre. The predicted traffic congestion did not occur. A significant percentage of traffic appears to have disappeared from the city centre, a result which could not be solely explained by displacement to other routes.

Below we’ve put together a short storyboard showing how the theories of induced traffic and traffic evaporation play out in reality.

The concept of “Induced Traffic” and “Traffic Evaporation”

Download our handout from the Callington Road meeting: 

Induced traffic and evaporation



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. 


Want Space for Cycling in Bristol? Support Bristol Cycling Sign me up!

Login Form