Tag Archives: West of England

Where is WECA’s vision for cycling?

Since the elections for the ‘Metro Mayor’ in 2017 and the setting up of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), Bristol Cycling has been working with our friends at Cycle Bath on a Cycling Manifesto for the region. We’ve been asking for the same level of commitment from Mayor Tim Bowles, and his Transport supremo, James White, as is being seen in other cities, notably London and now Manchester where Chris Boardman is the cycling champion.

Sadly there is little sign of any real vision or ambition. WECA transport policy seems to be simply about junction 18A of the M4, buses, and trains. There is no recognition that walking and cycling play any role in tackling congestion.

Adam Reynolds, chair of Cycle Bath, is making a joint statement to the WECA Overview and Scrutiny Committee tomorrow, Weds 21st March.

See the Cycle Bath post 21 March 2018 / West of England Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee | Cycle Bath

I am speaking on behalf of Cycle Bath and Bristol Cycling Campaign both of which actively campaign for better cycling infrastructure. As a software engineer and data scientist I have been able to leverage my skills to analyse the Census 2011 WU03EW “Location of usual residence and place of work by method of travel to work” data set. I can tell you that of the 153,623(125,908+27,715) Bristol and Bath car commuters, 18.9% [28,989 (24,396+4,593)] live within a 20 minute walk of work, 42.1% [64,678(56,277+8,401)] live within a 20 minute cycle of work, and 61.7% [94,800(83072+11728)] live within a 20 minute electric bike ride of work.


I have already had a meeting last year with Mayor Tim Bowles to emphasise these statistics, highlighting the work Transport For London are doing around Strategic Cycling Analysis (http://content.tfl.gov.uk/strategic-cycling-analysis.pdf) as well as presenting the www.pct.bike and www.cyipt.bike tools, both of which have been funded by the DfT.


Transport For London recently stated that cycle lanes move 5 times as many people per square metre as car lanes. A single bi-directional protected cycle lane is the equivalent of installing a 5 lane motorway through a city. The investment in gold standard cycle infrastructure in the City of London has resulted in the majority of traffic on the roads now being people cycling.


On top of this we have estimates that congestion is costing Bath and Bristol businesses £55 million per year and costing individuals residents upwards of £1,500 per year in time and costs. We’re talking congestion costs reaching almost £300 million per year across Bath and Bristol, and god knows what costs the NHS are occuring due to air pollution and obesity.


Yet WECA transport policy seems to be simply about junction 18A of the M4, buses, and trains. There is no recognition that walking and cycling play any role in tackling congestion. Unlike other regional mayors, there is no dedicated cycling commissioner. Funding for cycling has been bundled with walking, and combined, is only 5% of the budget, or a paltry £400m. The Greater Manchester Mayor has committed to invest £1.5 BILLION in cycling alone. If WECA did the same per head of population it would be £500M on cycling alone.


Cycling as a form of transport offers significant benefits to tackling congestion and improving public health. The Mayor can tackle congestion cheaply by simply identifying all Key Road Network routes where significant numbers are travelling to work by car that could travel to work by bicycle in under 20 minutes and prioritise the building of good seperate protected space for walking, cycling, and driving along these routes over the provision of on-street parking.


When will WECA get serious about tackling congestion and improving the health of the population? Where is WECA’s cycling vision? Where is our Cycling Commissioner? Where is our Chris Boardman? Where is the commitment from WECA to deliver healthy streets? Why does the mayor seem obsessed with cars, buses and trains, when 60% of workers live within an easy electric bike ride of work? And while we’re at it, where’s the identification of key cycle routes to schools with upwards of 30% of rush hour traffic being the school run? Why is WECA’s transport policies not answerable to Public Health? Why is there nobody from the NHS invited to be involved in defining transport policy?


We are almost one year into Mayor Tim Bowles term in office and cycling simply does not seem to register on his radar as a solution for tackling congestion and improving the health of the population. I can only compare his progress to that of other Mayors and currently it feels glacial and very timid when looking at what other Mayors are achieving.

Survey ignores e-bikes for West of England – have your say

It’s no surprise to find that by far the most popular and fastest growing electric vehicle in the West of England, and globally, is ignored in a just launched survey. E-Bikes are already everywhere, whizzing up hills and making longer trips more possible. There’s a huge flowering of creativity about carrying cargo and kids. The delight and confidence boost they give to older and less confident cycle users is bringing tremendous health and wellbeing, as well as opening up mobility to nearly everyone.

Yet there is effectively NO official support for this, with all efforts remaining focussed on the hugely expensive private (electric) motor car.

It’s very important the voice is heard of those already using, or considering, an e-bike as their first EV. Please participate in the survey which will shape the future for the millions of pounds of investment which aims to “promote and increase the uptake of electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, across the region. OLEV’s ambition is to have virtually zero emissions on Britain’s roads by 2050.”

You may need to be a bit creative in how you interpret the questions which may some pretty shocking and biased assumptions.

via Have your say on the future of West of England’s electric vehicle charging network – Travelwest

A major public market research initiative has been launched to help inform the future development of the West of England region’s chargepoint network for electric vehicles. The organisations running the project want to hear views from any current user of the network – or people who would like to operate an electric vehicle in the future – on how the regions electric chargepoint network should be run, managed and supported going forward.

If you live or work in the West of England and would like to contribute your thoughts to the research, please follow this link to take part in the survey. Completing the survey should take no more than ten minutes and, upon completion, those responding will be able to enter a prize draw for a chance to win a £100 Amazon shopping voucher. 

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. The centre of each circle shows the number of commuters living in the ward and driving to work in the ward. It also indicates the number of commuters driving to the ward for work, from 5km or less away and the direction they are coming from.

So green circles imply that not many cars are coming to the ward, but an adjacent ward with a red sector indicates that there are a lot of those cars driving from the green ward into that ward, or from that direction, so there is high potential modal shift.

The key importance of the centre is clear, but have a look at Avonmouth! Also Brislington, Fishponds and Horfield. The circles for South Gloucestershire wards will be interesting, but not perhaps surprising.

This overall perspective is complementary to the astonishing detail in the DfT funded Propensity to Cycle Tool, pct.bike/avon. Try the following settings for an overview, and then look at the pressure on Gloucester Road North and around Filton. Geography: Lower super output area. Scenario: ebikes. Cycling flow: Route network. Show zones: untick. Map base: black & white.

With cycling commuting levels approaching 15%, all future investment must be aimed at ‘Interested but Concerned’ cyclists. Anything less than attractive, welcoming and comfortable end to end routes simply won’t be good enough. And of course ‘Triple A’ standard, for All Ages and Abilities.

It’s time to get serious about cycling as a strategically important mass transport mode in the region. We’re calling on the new WECA Mayor, Tim Bowles (aka ‘Metro Mayor’ but the preferred term is ‘West of England Combined Authority’), and Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, through his Congestion Task Force, to step up to the challenge. The demand is there, it’s their job to remove the barriers and enable people do the right thing, for themselves and for the city.

The Reclaiming of Queen Square – lessons for ‘metro’ Mayor Tim Bowles


This fascinating video tells the story of how traffic was removed from Queen Square and Champion Square in Bristol. It was made for UWE’s online course Our Green City. It includes an interview with Dave Johnson, Avon County Councillor involved in making the changes to Queen Square in 1992.

As we anticipate how Tim Bowles, the new West of England Combined Authority (WECA) Mayor, is planning to use the new powers and funding to address Bristol’s chronic transport and congestion problems, it’s worth noting what made this dramatic improvement to the centre of Bristol possible. In particular the importance of reconciling the interests of the city council, of the wider transport authority, and of the many special interest groups, most of whom were saying “it will never work” and “there will be traffic chaos if any road is closed”. The concept of traffic evaporation is still barely acknowledged in the political world.

Is the time right for a new and determined push for a Living Heart for Bristol as a key element in a truly ambitious transport plan?

We set out a way forward in our Cycling Manifestos for the WECA Mayor election in 2017, and for the Bristol Mayor elections in 2016.

Vote Bike! What the Metro Mayor candidates say

Update: Tim Bowles (Conservative) is our new West of England Regional Mayor (results). We look forward to working with him to enable everyday cycling, for everyone, everywhere in our region.

What will the West of England Metro Mayor do for cycling? Given the level of excitement it’s possible turnout will be low – meaning that those who DO vote can really make a difference. The bookies are putting the Tories and Lib Dems as equal favourites. If you’re undecided, you might want to know what the candidates say about cycling, and then Vote Bike!

Working with Cycling UK, we sent our Cycling Manifesto for the Metro Mayor to all candidates, asking for their responses. We had responses from five of the six candidates, as below. These are also published on the Cycling UK website Vote Bike: West of England.

What we’re calling for:

  1. Champion the West of England’s cycling and walking culture
    Will you prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport as the key to optimising the capacity of our transport network? Will you set a target to double the number of trips made by cycle in the West of England by 2025, while upholding the target of 20% of commuting trips in Bristol city by 2020.
  2. Seek the funding to achieve your aims
    Will you create a dedicated budget and team for cycling and actively seek the necessary funding to build your network to a high standard?
  3. Establish ‘MetroCycle’ on the same basis as MetroRail and MetroBus
    Will you set out a vision and plan for a high quality and coherent cycle network? This should connect our homes with our places of work, education, shopping and play. The starting place should be our Bristol Cycling Manifesto, and the Bristol Cycle Strategy. Will you set up and chair a powerful group bringing together councils, business groups, universities, advocates and transport businesses?






Tim Bowles

I have long been a supporter of improving cycling facilities. I was pleased that our work in South Gloucestershire was recognised by the National Highways and Transportation Public Satisfaction survey when we were ranked as the top performing local authority for the provision of cycling facilities and infrastructure.

In my own ward we secured significant funding to improve the facilities for cyclists at junction 1 of the M32 motorway at Hambrook, which benefits commuter cyclists along the A4174 ring road corridor. As a council we also introduced more extensive gritting on the cycle path network.

We are shortly to start essential maintenance work on the Bromley Heath Viaduct on the A4174, one of the busiest roads in the whole region. As part of our commitment to improving cycling facilities we were keen to use this opportunity to build a new cycle path across the viaduct as we recognised this is a pinch point for cyclists and is one of the most well used parts of cycle path in the area and I am pleased that this will now be included in the works.

As a member of the leadership team on South Gloucestershire Council I feel that it’s important to connect all of the authority with a strong cycling network of infrastructure. We have just finished consulting on Yate-Dodington-Westerleigh cycling spur path. I see the Westerleigh spur as an important part of making that happen, allowing people a continuous cycle path from Yate to Emersons Green.

I hope this shows that I have a real track record of providing improvements to the cycle network and please be assured I will continue to do so if elected as the West of England Regional Mayor.

Aaron Foot

[Statement given 3/5/17]




I like many support improvements that can help cycling. We all need to work together and solve the issues that arise.

We can work together by using my proposed E-Democracy system which will let you tell the Metro Mayor what’s not working and how it should be improved. For example we have a patchwork of cycle lanes that don’t join together. Let’s work on connecting cycle lanes and improving the surface you cycle on.

By working together we can go someway to solving the transport crisis in Bristol, BANES and South Gloucestershire.

I will also look into the idea of a MetroCycle.

Darren Hall




It is absolutely essential that we prioritise cycling as one of the be solutions to solving congestion and air quality issues. It makes economic sense, it makes sense for health, and it makes sense for families who are struggling to get themselves to work, and their children to school.

As a keen cyclist myself, both for leisure and commuting, I wholeheartedly support this agenda and if elected will do all I can to make sure that the aims of Bristol Cycling, Cycle Bath and Cycling UK are prioritised.

Despite evidence that proves the economic benefits of cycling, it is clear that the UK has failed to implement a coherent strategy, and as a consequence we continue to lag behind many other areas in Europe. Last year, I was lucky enough to live in Strasbourg for 3 months, where the transport infrastructure made cycling a much more pleasurable and safe activity for commuters as well as children & families all using the dedicated cycling lanes as their preferred way of getting round the city.  

We also need to tackle the belief that cyclists are the enemy of car drivers when in fact more people cycling would be one of the most effective ways of tackling congestion. Cycling can significantly improve health outcomes, both directly though exercise, and indirectly by improving air quality. 

I believe I am the only candidate in this election who will properly prioritise cycling as part of an integrated transport strategy. With your vote, and that of your friends & familly, I can win this election, and in doing so, put cycling, alongside public transport and walking, at the heart of my West of England Active Travel Plan.

Lesley Mansell




One of my top priorities for transport is to invest in active transport. In my manifesto I have committed to promoting cycling by reviewing, maintaining and improving cycle lanes. Furthermore, I aim to a build a connecting network of high-quality strategic cycling routes and will appoint an Active Travel Commissioner reporting directly to the Mayor on progress towards my  target of 40% of all journeys to be made by foot and bike across the West of England Combined Authority by 2025.

In addition, I will ensure all new developments are connected to active travel and public transport networks with high-quality infrastructure to reduce reliance on single occupancy car journeys. You can find the rest of my pledges and policies here: http://www.mansell4mayor.org/lesleys-pledges-and-policies/

John Savage




For much of my adult life I have been an active cyclist. Furthermore, I understand that cycling is a critical part of the solution to the transport challenges that our region faces. When we plan for the future we must look at providing innovative forms of public transport and meet the infrastructure and safety needs of cyclists.
I am committed to increasing the number of cycle trips and will make sure that every development has cycling links to get people to and from key locations. I have huge ambitions for transforming transport in the West of England. I see cycling as a vital part of this and will make sure that it is safe and we invest in new routes.
As Mayor, I will use devolution as a chance to make sure the desires of local people are reflected in all of my policies. That is what devolution is about after all. As a supporter of more investment in cycling and with great public support – I can commit to advocates and ambassadors being part of my team that seek to find solutions to solving our region’s transport problem.

I am supportive of a Metro Cycle idea, but I would also like to know more details on what would be expected.

Stephen Williams




Cycling is a sustainable and healthy way to travel. By encouraging more cyclists and integrated transport we can tackle two of the biggest problems our two cities have and improve life for those living in Bath, Bristol and the surrounding areas as well.

Air Pollution is an environmental disaster we need to tackle right now. By reducing fossil fuelled transport we can make a large impact now for the generations of the future. Cycling also tackles congestion which all to often sees our cities and main roads grind to a halt. More cycling reduces the problem of congestion which in turn reduces our big issue, air pollution.

As Metro Mayor I will encourage our councils to continue enhancing cycle routes. I will press the government to ensure that the devolved transport budget includes sufficient resource to introduce cycling improvements.

I will work with Sustrans and others to double the number of trips made by bicycle in the West of England by 2025 and uphold the target of 20% commuting trips to Bristol by 2020. I will also set a realistic target for Bath and explore combination journeys, for instance cycle and ride. I will work with our councils, business groups, universities, transport businesses and advocates to steer our walking and cycling priorities.

Other Metro Mayor news

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