BCyC briefing for Deputy Mayor Mark Bradshaw

We are meeting with the Bristol transport supremo, Deputy Mayor Mark Bradshaw on 26th March 2015. Here’s our briefing for him including the five issues he needs to get sorted. We’ll report back.

Cycling in Bristol is quick, cheap and pollution-free – why don’t more people do it?

Most people feel the city remains profoundly hostile to cycling. Two thirds of people don’t feel the roads are safe for them or their families. On average two people are casualties each week while walking or cycling in Bristol. That shocking number might be even higher if most of us were not intimidated out of doing activities that are good for us, and good for our city.

Bristol is blessed with a good number of those bold and brave enough to cycle, and more can certainly be encouraged to join them. But cycling must become so easy that everyone does it if we are to reach the targets in the Bristol Cycle Strategy. This is the challenge Bristol Cycling Campaign (BCyC) set for the city through the Bristol Cycling Manifesto.

Thirty years of opportunistic stop-start initiatives have produced an outline cycling network, with patches of excellence, but it is only suitable for those with local knowledge and willing to work around barriers and inconveniences. The time is right for co-ordinated strategic action to make Bristol great for cycling, not as an end itself but as a means to achieving a healthy, prosperous and distinctively happy Green Capital.

Bristol enjoys a truly impressive and vibrant network of advocates, groups and skilled professionals working productively with the Council to develop our renown for everyday cycling. Recent BCyC work towards this includes:

In the spirit of this collaboration with Bristol Council we would like to raise the following five concerns where we feel strategic leadership is needed:

Issue 1: Safe Roads for Everyone – Road Danger Reduction. We have had a series of meetings with the Chief Constable and senior officers through our Road Justice campaign. Their recently published ‘Policing the Roads Strategy’ has many points in common with the Council’s just published ‘A Safe Systems Approach to Road Safety in Bristol’. However it is clear that the police are not currently using the collision data produced by the council to undertake targeted, intelligence-led enforcement nor are they an integral partner in delivering the council’s objectives.

Action: BCC needs to have a Road Danger Reduction forum to coordinate implementation of its action plan. The forum needs to involve the police’s lead on road safety matters, Superintendent Richard Corrigan, as well as representatives of vulnerable road users.

Issue 2: Skilled Delivery team. Council engineering and project management resource are stretched to deliver the current programmes. There appears to be little capacity for the extra effort involved in achieving higher standards or a more optimal solution. We believe there needs to be greater depth of experience of designing for cycling. Internal barriers remain between council departments and lack of support for innovation or quality outcomes. Outsourcing seems to produce ‘pragmatic’ and ‘deliverable’ designs that inevitably fall short of best practice.

Action: We need a Deputy Mayor or councillor to cut through issues as cycling champion / commissioner. Staff should be encouraged to join our 2015 study tour as part of their professional development.

Issue 3: MetroCycle – Delivery plan for the Cycle Strategy. We feel Bristol should adopt the approach of the Welsh Active Travel Act through an audit of the ‘as is’ network, set out the ‘to be’ aspirations, and a phased delivery plan to get us there. Cycling must be prioritised at the same strategic level as public transport and roads within Bristol and West of England LEP strategic plans. At present important schemes and areas are currently considered ‘too big and too hard’. We also feel cycling lacks a compelling brand and marketing, as was achieved with Cycling City.

Action: Set up a MetroCycle programme within the West of England LEP and Joint Transport Board with a 10 year plan and investment programme. Bristol to lead this.

Issue 4: Neighbourhood Partnerships. Every month decisions are made locally that affect the cycling environment (often negatively) through maintenance or small works. They make little contribution to strategic aims and may work against them. In addition council collision data is not shared with neighbourhoods so the evidence base for possible measures is not robust. To bed in the benefits of 20mph areas it is time to start addressing through traffic in residential and retail areas.

Action: BCC to enable each Neighbourhood Partnership to have a Local Sustainable Transport Plan setting out how they will improve walking, cycling, public transport.

Issue 5: Cycle Forum. As a strategic and neighbourhood vision for cycling emerges within a sustainable transport system, the Bristol Cycle Forum should be a key element of engagement with neighbourhoods and businesses. Regular attendance or chairing by the Mayor or Deputy Mayor may help. As may including the delivery of the Walking Strategy as part of a broader ‘Active Travel Forum’.

Action:  The Cycling Champion should ensure an effective Cycle Forum.