Tag Archives: West of England

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, see here, 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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The world, and Greater Bristol, needs more cycling champions

For all those campaigning for Space for Cycling, Brian Deegan is a hero, being the transport planning engineer who has delivered top quality infrastructure in London. But he says that without a ‘big gun’ cycling champion even skilled and committed council officers can’t transform our streets to make them more suitable to cyclists (and everyone), they can only deliver tinkering half-measures (The world needs more cycling champions).

Is a cycling champion of the standard of Andrew Gillingham or Chris Boardman possible in Greater Bristol? Deegan says ‘if you can’t find one then you must make one… You will never get out of the blocks without a champion.’

So where does that leave us in campaigning to make Bristol better for cycling?

We have warm words and undoubted personal commitment from CouncillorsMayor Marvin Rees and his transport lead Mhairi Threlfall, but a black hole in West of England Combined Authority Mayor Tim Bowles (and see this from Cycle Bath). But there is a consistent failure to set out an ambitious strategy, and worse, backing off from any controversy (Prince St Bridge? Easton Safer Streets? Victoria Park?).

Who would you suggest can cut through the complacency towards transformation? Or are there other changes needed?

If you want to transform your streets to make them more suitable to cyclists, then you need to get a ‘big gun’ to champion your cause, and if you can’t find one then you must make one. Otherwise, that more powerful ‘no’ up the chain becomes an insurmountable object bringing scheme progress to a grinding halt. When it comes to change it is so much easier to say ‘no’ than ‘yes’, and, let’s face it, you will never get out of the blocks without a champion.

If you don’t believe me then look at the streets. Most street layouts remain entrenched in the 1960s design standards of automobility. This represents the last time powerful people approved transformational change, albeit with ruinous results for society. Efforts to get the great others to unpick this mess are seldom met with support, and that’s why you need some superhuman help.

via The world needs more cycling champions. Do you have what it takes

Metro Mayor Tim Bowles is failing us

Our friends at Cycle Bath have been taking the lead locally in attempting to engage the WECA Mayor Tim Bowles. Now frustration levels have reached boiling point as we watch helplessly as other metro mayors power ahead. The words ‘chocolate teapot’ are coming to be associated with Mayor Bowles.

Metro Mayor Tim Bowles is failing us

For anyone that caught the news on Friday, Chris Boardman raised alarm at the lack of progress on cycling recently in the West of England. You can catch a more detailed program and discussion on it on the Sunday Politics West if you are quick.

The basic premise is that when each of the 6 mayors were elected, they were also given a load of money.

Greater Manchester’ Andy Burnham received £240M, committed £160M to cycling, employed Chris Boardman, designed a complete gold standard cycle network across 11 boroughs and is now spending £50M per year trying to build it. West Midlands Andy Street is also doing an immense amount of stuff exceptionally quickly. These are Metro Mayors that hit the ground running.

West of England’s Tim Bowles was given £80m,  has taken a year to get a Head of Transport when the 2 page job advert did not mention walking and cycling, and has committed to producing a document, the joint local transport plan by April 2020.

On the politics show, the Metro Mayor was accused of being useless. When I was interviewed I called him as useful as a chocolate teapot when it came to transport.

You should be extremely alarmed that this man has sat on £80M of City Transformation Funding. That the wording he uses around this money is about strategic transport. That he wants to ‘promote’ cycling, despite WECA scrutiny panel assuring me in a written statement that the term promote would no longer be used and replaced with enable.

The reality is that Tim Bowles is utterly failing the people of the West of England, and before you try and defend him in anyway, Andy Street is Conservative and Andy Burnham is Labour. It is not about parties, it is about ability, about political will, about surrounding yourself quickly with good people and delivering.

Janet Sadik-Khan TRANSFORMED New York because Mayor Bloomberg had faith in her and backed her 100% all the way. Chris Boardman has the vision, but his ability to deliver is down to Metro Mayor Andy Burnham backing him 100% and putting money where his mouth is.

Tim Bowles has ensured that the wording he uses around the City Transformation Fund is about strategic transport, but I strongly suspect he does not consider cycling or walking strategic. It’s taken him over a year to employ a Head of Transport who needed experience of dealing with buses, but no experience of implementing walking or cycling strategies and he is so weak in this area, he is pushing any decisions around this space out to the Joint Local Transport Plan.

Yet Transport for London have recognised that Cycling is a strategic form of transport and have done complex Strategic Cycling Analysis, using commuter and school travel DATA. Tim Bowles knows this. I had a meeting with him last Christmas and showed him this. TfL are increasing road capacity by 15% by building cycle tracks.

This situation is utterly depressing and is very much down to Tim Bowles and his utter failure to get a grip on Transport from all aspects unless it has to do with 18a of the M4 junction.

As Chris Boardman said “It is not what does it cost to get people cycling and walking, but what is the cost not to get people cycling and walking”.

With the Joint Local Transport Plan not being published until April 2020 at the earliest, Tim Bowles will have set back the west by at least 2 years. In the meantime other mayors are absolutely killing it, focusing on enabling walking, cycling, and transforming public transport.

It’s less Metro Mayor Tim Bowles and more Teapot Tim.

We need a commitment from Tim Bowles to allocate the £80M he has been given to walking and cycling, implement a Strategic Cycling Analysis exercise, and begin delivery of a complete cycle network across the west. This could be done this year.

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. 

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