Victoria Park – JIMBY’s and NIMBY’s

Update:  Planning application withdrawn for ‘further consultation’. We will continue to press for ‘triple A’ ambition to make cycling feel possible for All Ages and Abilities.

The consultation has now closed on the planning application for the Victoria Park section of the Filwood Quietway (however comments can still be made, use link here Victoria Park – say no to Project Fear). There are 1065 comments with a breakdown of about 56% objectors and 44% supporters (thanks to Kit Wallace for analysis).

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, 85% of those living within 1km object. Those further away, and therefore more likely to consider cycling, are 82% in favour [updated 15/1/17].

We believe the proposals will improve Victoria Park overall and benefit everyone, walking or cycling, local or enjoying passing through, a real win-win. It will now be down to local councillors on the planning committee to decide how much weight to give local opposition when it goes against the wider interests of the City.

If you think this is contentious, wait until the proposals for Space for Cycling on Gloucester Road are put forward…

On a curious side note, in the review of 20mph areas in Bristol, the issue is ‘Just in My Back Yard’ or JIMBYism. Drivers are willing to curtail their speed where it matters personally, but revert to a habitual, faster speed where the benefits to themselves are less tangible.  People want 20mph on their street so that it is safe for their children, their cats, their grannies but they don’t want to have to comply with 20mph limits in other people’s streets! Similarly, really good ‘Triple A’ cycling provision (All Ages and Abilities) that will attract and encourage more cycling is popular across the city, but changes are often vigorously opposed locally.

If you have a moment there are some very high quality and thoughtful comments. We’ve picked out a selection:

Currently, the majority of people in Bristol will not consider cycling, mainly due to fear of traffic. These are the people who will benefit from this kind of pleasant route through green spaces. This route will particularly attract children, older people, women and the less able bodied. The overriding factor that stops potential cyclists from starting is the fear of motor traffic. The Victoria Park section of the Filwood Quietway will help reduce that fear. An integrated Filwood Quietway route will deliver health and other benefits for people in Bristol. I have a three-and-three-quarter year – old son who I take to and from nursery by bike. Quietway routes, such as the one being proposed, is ideal for cycling with my son. It is a more attractive option than an on-road route, feeling safer and more pleasant. I have no doubt Quietway routes will encourage more low-speed cycle trips such as this. (more)

I note that the objectors have misportrayed people who cycle – their leaflet had a picture of a “heads down” person on a speeding road bike, dressed in lycra. I have only ever seen people like that in Grand Prix races in the centre of town, never everyday cyclists like me! I think there has been some blatant scaremongering, misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts, and demonisation of people who cycle. The Park is for everyone, not just people who live nearby. This is on balance a good scheme and I fully support it. (more)

Wider paths with clearly defined sides for cyclists and other users will be safer than the current paths. Objectors have cited the Bristol to Bath cycle path as an example where a cycle route has resulted in conflicts between fast-moving bikes and pedestrians – what is being proposed for Victoria Park is not equivalent to that route and I do not believe it will result in faster cycling. The Bristol to Bath path is used by road cyclists as a training route – such cyclists are happy to use the roads in South Bristol and will not be enticed into the park by this relatively short section of cycle path. Instead, I envisage a safer environment will result where children and dogs can be kept safely to one side of passing bikes. What is being proposed is far closer to the shared use path that runs along the edge of Castle Park and works very well.

As a Run Director for junior parkrun I would also like to address the concerns that have been raised by VPAG in connection with the run. There has been no formal consultation by VPAG of the team that run the Windmill Hill junior parkrun and I can see no reason why the safety of children doing the run would be compromised by the new paths. The run takes place at 9am on Sunday mornings and we encounter very few cyclists in the park at that time of day. In addition, children and parents taking part are already made aware that they do not have right of way in the park and should look out for other park users. (more)

I would like to comment in support of this proposal as a Public Health Professional, female cyclist, parent, and native South Bristolian. I have conducted research on attitudes and social norms towards cyclists in Filwood (Knowle West) within the last few years for my dissertation to gain my MSc in Public Health. I also set up the Facebook page “Women cyclist of Bristol” which has just under 900 (all female) members).

I would like the cycle route and this section in particular to be seen within the wider context of the transport and health issues that Bristol residents experience. Like many UK cities, Bristol is seeing increasing levels of obesity and overweight along with health conditions resulting from this e.g. diabetes. There are also low levels of physical activity including cycling and this is especially true for south Bristol residents particularly those living in areas of high deprivation e.g. Knowle West. [referenced]

My research and other research before it showed that the general population (who are not currently cycling) view cycling for leisure and on traffic free routes as far more accessible than cycling on roads. In order for cycling to become a normal activity it is important that the general population are given access to this type of cycling which this proposal clearly supports.

New cyclists, wobbly cyclists, children, older people and disabled people especially need safe and traffic free routes in order to learn to cycle and feel confident doing so. All people also need to see all types of people cycling as a normal activity and the proposals for Victoria Park give and excellent opportunity for this.

Barriers to cycling are not always physical- but the current barrier systems into the park mean that people with cycle trailers (including child trailers) and those on tricycles (who are more likely to be disabled and/or elderly) are unable to cycle into the park from nearly all entrances. This means that certain groups of people are being discriminated against currently. The barriers also prevent those using certain types of mobility scooter and wheelchairs accessing the park and mean that these people do not enjoy equal access to this public space.

On the topic of equal access, it is important to note that shared use paths have been raised as an issues by visually impaired people in Bristol and this was reported to the Cycle Forum by an individual from this community. Segregated paths as proposed for the park should help with access for this group and I would recommend discussion with nearby located RNIB on this. Segregated paths are also likely to be easy to use for those people with dementia and learning disabilities and their carers. Many cyclists and pedestrians generally prefer segregated paths as they help avoid collision. The width of the path as has been proposed is also important in this. [more]

This is a fantastic idea and I am contacting you in a counter response to the VPAG. I am a cyclist, dog owner and a walker so use the park on an almost daily basis. Please continue to think up and action these ideas as Bristol can and will only benefit from them. [more]

Since having a son I do tend to keep off the main roads now, and try to ride on traffic free areas. I particularly value these when towing my son in the trailer, and there is no way I would ride on the roads with him – I dismount and walk when paths end. In addition to this, it appears that a large number of cyclists are white males. I think by providing safe routes, it will make cycling more appealing to a wider demographic – particularly those less confident riders. [more]

I use the park in many capacities, as a dog walker, as a mum bringing her children to play and occasionally as a cyclist. I feel I have an excellent perspective on cycling in the park and strongly feel we need to sort the cycle route out – it would be best for everyone. [more]

I’ve been saddened by the controversy surrounding this proposed route. I cycle through the park every day and will welcome a route where I can be out of the way of dog walkers, children, and other pedestrians. I will also use it during the winter when it’s dark, whereas now I use Hill Avenue when it’s dark. I think once it’s in place many people in my neighbourhood will enjoy and use this path, and thousands of children will learn to cycle there. [more]

As a local resident and frequent park user I want to add my voice in support of this proposal, both in itself as an improvement for our lovely Victoria Park, and as part of the potentially very beneficial Filwood Quietway. I suspect almost everyone who doesn’t agree with the proposal will make a comment to object, whereas most people who are in agreement (or neutral) probably won’t make a comment, as I’m sure is usual in planning situations! [more]

I used to live on Park Avenue which is at the non-town end of Victoria Park. At night, I did not feel safe walking through the park, so cycled on the roads around the edge. The current road option for cyclists is poor […] Despite living a very close walking and cycling distance to town, the lack of safety on the journey was one of the key reasons why I moved.  I was definitely very frustrated with how slow, dangerous and complicated a very short journey felt whilst living there. I now have friends on Paultow road and when walking home, I do not feel safe walking through the park on my own. [more]

I am writing in response to the mailer sent out today by Victoria Park Action group. As someone who both cycles and walks a dog every day in the park, I disagree strongly that the current layout “works well.” The claim that the proposed changes will both make the path too wide and increase conflict between pedestrians and cyclists is nonsensical on it’s face and the “serious implications” of the lighting is apparently that it won’t light up enough of the park (this is actually the one thing that I agree with). While not mentioned in the mailer, the drainage is particularly problematic currently, to the point that I have to walk around the park after heavy rain. I hope that this effort forestall progress does not succeed and that these badly needed improvements to our park can go ahead. Thank you. [more]

I currently can not use any of the cycle routes through Victoria park, as I have a heavy bike with either a child in a bike seat or a trailer with 2 children and I have had to turn back from many entrances and use non cycle friendly road which I could get through. I hope the park users are happy with the new route as it has taken into concern their wishes over the flatter spaces. My son is now at a school not far from here and this route will finally allow us a safer cycle route for onwards journies or to be able soon that he can cycle part of the route home. There is often a lot of concern about super fast inconsiderate cyclist. Alas they do exist but are rarer than people believe as the majority of present (even smiling) cyclists don’t get winged about or in the press as often. I do hope this gets passed as we need more linked up safe cycle routes as the only way to encourage us to try a bike over using the car. (I have and use both but now find the bike the most sensible option) but better routes will encourage me to use it more often. [more]

Lifecycle welcomes all schemes that improve access to safe local routes for cycling. Creating age-friendly and disability friendly spaces, that enable people of all ages, including young children and older people, to cycle in calm, traffic-free environments is key to encouraging more sustainable travel in Bristol, as well as helping to address health priorities for the city. In particular, we welcome these improvements which will make access to and through the park much easier for our disabled cycling groups. We rely on these traffic free routes and areas for example to help new partially sighted participants to have a try on the back of a tandem with one of our volunteers. At the moment our largest tandems will not fit through the rather “over the top” barriers that block the entrances to Victoria Park. We also frequently make the trip between our nearby tandem lock up off Fitzgerald Road and the Create Centre (for the start of our longer rides) and the on-road alternative to Victoria Park is very busy and rather unpleasant for our riders. [more]

The existing ‘A-frame’ barriers at three of the entrances to the park restrict or limit access for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, prams and cyclists, who may need to dismount and lift bikes. They were installed to prevent motorbike and scooter access. However anecdotal evidence suggests it is actually the police enforcement that has stopped the problem and not access restrictions. Therefore a 12-month trial to remove the A-frames and provide equal access for all users is now proposed and supported by the local police. If removal of the barriers has contributed to additional motorbike activity in the park, they will be re-installed. [From the Design & Access Statement]

Chair of Governors, on behalf of the Full Governing Body of St Mary Redcliffe Primary School

Karin Smyth – Comment saying “To date all of the correspondence I have received from constituents has included opposition to the details of this application, whilst in many cases expressing general support for the principle of improved cycling infrastructure. Many of those who are objecting to this proposal are people who cycle regularly.” Use the button in this article to give your views to Karin Smyth, particularly if she is your MP.

Councillor Referral Form from Cllr Jon Wellington so the application is considered by an Area Development Control Committee.

Police Crime Reduction Unit – “I have no objection to this application and nothing to add at this stage.”