Tag Archives: Space for Cycling

Why it matters that Bristol is preparing a ‘Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan’

After intensive lobbying by cycling and walking groups the Government set up a legally binding Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) in 2017.  The aim is “to deliver better safety, better mobility, and better streets”. All local authorities are supposed to produce a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), setting out their long-term approach to developing local cycling and walking networks, ideally over a 10 year period. In particular this means:

  • a network plan for walking and cycling which identifies preferred routes and core zones for further development
  • a prioritised programme of infrastructure improvements for future investment
  • a report which sets out the underlying analysis carried out and provides a narrative which supports the identified improvements and network

Here in Bristol we’re a long way ahead of many areas, and BCyC has blazed a trail with our Bristol Cycling Manifesto with its highly influential ‘tube map’. It will be no surprise that we’ve got a long list of priorities based on our detailed network plan, so we’ve had to work hard to distill these down to some specific routes that we want Bristol and South Gloucestershire to include in their first LCWIP (yes, Gloucester Rd is #1). [Cycle Bath have been doing the same with BaNES and we don’t think North Somerset are ready yet].

Here’s the BCyC submission, also copied below, LCWIP BCyC final13.8.18. Our Space for Cycling Forum of BCyC members will be closely involved in working with council officers as plans develop. We’ll see how far we get a meaningful plan with prioritised actions. Note that the LCWIP will form an action plan appendix to the Bristol Transport Strategy that is out for public consultation on 24th September 2018, watch this space for updates.

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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 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

 

 

Call for inclusive infrastructure

Fantastic article by Zoe Banks Gross on why we need to continue campaigning for a better environment for cycling, if we want to see greater quantities and diversity of people cycling in Bristol: https://betterbybike.info/news/seeing-women-cycling-bristol-theres-still-long-way-go.

Cycling is for everyone, and even though we are seeing more women cycling in Bristol, and more than in the other Bike Life cities, we still have a long way to go for cycling to be an easy choice for everyone. Bristol urgently needs better infrastructure to make it simpler and safer for all types of people on cycles, whether they are passengers in a cargo bike, parents with panniers full of groceries, or those on specially adapted tricycles.

Can we also encourage everyone to pause, read and share this important article by @Sandi_Dheensa What it’s like cycling as a woman of colour. This explains why the key issue for cycle campaigning in Bristol is enabling everyday cycle use for women, BAME, children and all abilities. A city that works for these groups works for everyone.

BAME people are a disproportionately small percentage of those who cycle. […] But what happens when we do venture into the cycling world? From my own (albeit novice and still wobbly) experience, I worry that as well as the ubiquitous hazards of careless drivers and meagre cycle lanes, women of colour are vulnerable to verbal abuse, beyond levels that white people, men, and of course, white men, are likely to experience.

It goes without saying that changing prejudiced attitudes to women of colour and cyclists, never mind women of colour who cycle, is a difficult feat. So what can we do?

For one, we can put pressure on authority figures to improve infrastructure. About women of colour, Zoe says, “if you build it, they will come”. But in his State of the City address this month, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees made no mention of cycling infrastructure, instead talking about his controversial £2.5 billion mass-transit system project. I hope that he pays attention to voices like Zoe’s, who argues that “giving space back to people would help make getting around the city easier and friendlier.”  She continued, “if we’re walking or cycling, it’s so much easier to engage and interact with people. That’s what we need more of right now in these difficult times we’re living in.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Britain’s forgotten 1930s protected cycleways

Cycle lane in Dorking, 1930s

Did you know that in the 1930s, the Ministry of Transport commissioned the building of protected cycleways?

We’ve heard about an exciting Kickstarter project from Carlton Reid and John Dales. Ultimately they want to revive Britain’s long-lost 1930s cycleways. These lanes cover 280 miles of safe cycling space but currently they are hidden from sight.

A small team will trawl the archives and evaluate these schemes. Then they will approach local and national authorities with plans for meshing the 1930s cycleways with their modern equivalents. If they exceed the initial target they will be able to research a greater number of schemes and push for grants to enable rescue work to take place.

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Victoria Park – say no to Project Fear

The planning application for the Victoria Park walking and cycling improvements closes tonight, Weds 11th Jan, but comments are still being accepted. We state again, this is good scheme utterly in keeping with everything that Victoria Park, and all other Bristol parks needs to have in a Cycling City (here’s a summary).

Click here to support the Quietway  

Thanks to all who’ve voiced their support we’ve now got a more balanced position to the fear of change being pushed by objectors. But objectors still outnumber supporters. It’s not a referendum or vote but the numbers do matter. The application has been ‘called in’ by councillors for consideration by a planning committee. This will be real test for how far Bristol can be said to be ambitious for cycling. Use this link to send them an email saying you’re in favour. We’ve done most of the work but you should include your name and address and personal comments before sending.

Email the Councillors & MP [add your name and comment]

The issue seems to come down to whether you consider the status quo to be acceptable, or even pleasant. Our position is that the current position in Bristol is intolerable. People are suffering degraded lives through inactivity, poor air quality, traffic dangers and lack of access to green spaces. The hugely positive role that can can be played by cycling is impossible when two thirds of people won’t even consider riding a bike due to fear of traffic. To say ‘I cycle and it’s no problem for me’ is just not good enough.

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