Transport in Bristol in 2018: feels more like 1968

In late April Bristol Civic Society organised an event at the Watershed entitled Transport in Bristol in 2018 at which the speakers were

  • James White, Interim Head of Transport at West of England Combined Authority
  • Peter Mann, Director of Transport at Bristol City Council

Several cycle campaigners attended including members of our Space for Cycling group.

James White spoke mainly about the MetroWest rail project, while Peter Mann covered most of the other current transport issues in Bristol. Their presentations were followed by questions from the audience.

There were three main highlights:

  • Peter Mann spoke with passion about the need to tackle pollution which he noted is killing several hundred people a year in Bristol. He contrasted this with single digit numbers dying in traffic collisions.
  • The first questioner challenged the speakers with the observation that our local authorities in the West of England region are planning to spend more on building a single motorway junction than their total planned spending on cycling and walking over the next 20 years.
  • The second questioner asked why the council continues to build mainly shared-use paths creating unnecessary conflict between cyclists and pedestrians in busy areas (such as the Centre), when in many cases segregated cycleways would be possible. He pointed out that London boroughs with a policy of building segregated cycleways had seen a significant growth in cycling and contrasted this with the negligible growth seen in boroughs who persisted in building shared-use paths.

Both questions were accompanied by sympathetic murmerings from the audience, but neither received a convincing answer.

The two speakers mentioned cycling in passing several times and appeared to recognise its health benefits. However the significant impact which cycling could have in tackling other major problems such as congestion and air pollution was scarcely mentioned. This is quite frankly disappointing.

Want to help turn things around in Bristol? Come to a Space for Cycling forum every second Thursday of the month and see what you can do to help. Please see our What’s on page for dates and venues.