On 22nd July there was a full council debate on cycling, thanks to over 4,000 people who want to make Bristol better for cycling and signed the Bristol Cycling Manifesto. We read out an opening statement (below) and then there were responses from four party groups, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Conservative and Labour. Then the Mayor responded. You can watch the debate at www.bristol.gov.uk/webcast, but it wasn’t online as of 24th July so we’ve embedded it below.
Below is the text of our opening statement. Here is the motion that we presented Manifesto Motion for Council 22 July 2014 (not debated in this form), however councillors will only saw a cut down version Bristol Council minutes 2014 06a1 – petition – cycling manifesto – report.
We need to make sure councillors know this is a big issue for Bristol so please use Space for Cycling to send them an email. You can check who has signed from Bristol and surrounding councils on this national map.
Freedom to Ride – Council debate, 22nd July 2014
Let’s get this clear; this debate is not about cyclists.
Nor is it about those who can’t, or choose not to cycle.
It’s about the two thirds of Bristolians who would like to cycle more but who say our roads and streets are not safe and comfortable. It’s about creating space for cycling for the benefit of all, including pedestrians, public transport and drivers.
Tens of thousands of people already enjoy quick, cheap, healthy trips by bike on some lovely routes. They know why Bristol is the leading UK city for cycling with more people cycling to work than in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and Liverpool added together. But they also know that you still need to be bold and brave, and that on many parts of any trip the roads can feel very hostile.
Businesses across the city know that cycling is popular and produces a healthier and more productive workforce. Already 19% of staff at Rolls Royce cycle, and forward looking companies are looking to the council and the LEP to support this as an outright business benefit to them and to Bristol.
Half of total trips in Bristol are of less than 5km and a shift of only 5%, by those who already want to cycle, could have dramatic impacts on congestion, for the benefit of all. What’s more, where funds are limited, this approach offers outstanding value for money returning over £10 for every £1 invested, far above any other transport schemes.
Our doctors and public health experts, faced with an overwhelming obesity epidemic, call physical activity a ‘best buy’ and a ‘wonder drug’. They urge local authorities to increase access to cycling noting that including exercise as part of going about our daily lives is most effective, and that it makes you fitter, stronger, more self-confident and less stressed.
As councillors you will know that over 80% of children say they’d like to cycle to school but parents must know there are safe routes to school.
However, cycling continues to be an afterthought in strategic and local planning. Last year the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group produced the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report. In the forward Professor Phil Goodwin of UWE says: “I, like most professional transport planners, providers and researchers of my generation, have grown up thinking that cycling, though worthy, is of small significance compared with the great questions of cars, traffic and public transport, or the universal significance of walking. […] We were wrong. The evidence demonstrates quite clearly that […] cycling is the mode of transport ‘on the cusp of greatness’”
It’s timely that council is having this debate as we plan for Green Capital 2015 and consider the draft council strategy for cycling. It’s also of great interest to the people of Bristol where 1 in four already ride a bike once a month or more. It must be a priority for the council to enable people to move around Bristol in ways that benefit our health and wellbeing as well as our city.
This is not about one plan or administration or party. We are calling on you as representatives of people across the city to build a long-term, cross-party consensus that cycling is good for Bristol, good for your wards, and that it’s high time we started taking the difficult decisions to make Bristol good for cycling, for everyone.