Monday, 21 July 2014

Bristol City Council's £35million plan to get us cycling . . .


Bristol City Council's £35million plan to get us cycling

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A RADICAL £35 million plan to get a fifth of all commuters on their bikes by 2020 has been announced. The city council plans to increase the proportion of people cycling to work from the current nine per cent to 20 per cent through a raft of infrastructure improvements, including more segregated cycle paths.

Commuter "corridors" heading north, east, north-west and south will be the focus of the changes, funded by the council and a series of major grants.

The city centre and access to the new Enterprise Zone at Temple Meads will be transformed while key routes like Feeder Road and Gloucester Road will be made safer using Dutch-style lanes where possible.

The council also plans to appoint an independent 'cycling advocate' to act as a driving force.

The planned changes are detailed in a new Cycling Strategy document, launched yesterday, which commits the council for the first time to changing the city's commuting culture. Believed to be the only one of its kind outside of London, the council is now asking for the public's views as the document is put out to consultation.

Yesterday's announcements came just over a year since pressure group Bristol Cycling Campaign launched its Cycling Manifesto.

The manifesto, which includes 200 miles of cycle ways – some segregated – across the city, has now been adopted by the council officially.

In keeping the Cycling Manifesto, the council plans to spend £16 a year for every person in the city on improving cycleways.

The £35 million total over five years relies on funding which has already been secured and grants which the council is either applying for or has applied for already.

Projects which have already been secured include a safe cycling link from Crews Hole to Temple Meads via Feeder Road, a Lawrence Weston to Avonmouth 'cycle street' and an extension of the Whitchurch Railway Path.

Other improvements are planned for Gloucester Road, Church Road, Whiteladies Road and from the centre to the south.

Mark Bradshaw, assistant mayor for transport, rejected claims the new plan ignored the interests of drivers.

He said: "It's important to remember that a lot of people who drive also walk and cycle, so this is for the benefit of everyone. There is a huge public health benefit here which you can't put a value on.

"Changes to habits will also improve congestion.

"We can all be proud as a city that the number of people who cycle, either daily or less frequently, has greatly increased over the last ten years. I want to use this strategy to reach out to more groups who think cycling isn't yet for them.

"Bristol still faces challenges in persuading older people, children, women and disabled people that cycling can be part of their lives.

"This strategy sets out how we will work with residents, neighbourhoods, businesses, other public bodies and campaigning organisations to make a further step change in the numbers cycling – a better connected network of segregated, safer routes will be a priority."

The council is one of seven cities taking part in a project to provide comparable cycling statistics with national charity Sustrans.

Sustrans regional director Ian Barrett said: "We know there is massive demand for more people to be able to cycle their daily trips to school, work and other destinations and what's holding many people back is concerns about safety and the quality of routes.

"Bristol's commitment to build a cycle network that can be confidently navigated by children as well as adults will enable far more people to cycle regularly, with huge benefits for the city's health, environment and quality of life."

Of the cash already committed to projects under the cycling strategy, £5 million will come from the council's revenue budget.

The rest comes from central government grants such as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, the Cycling Ambition fund and the Revolving Infrastructure Fund.

Eric Booth, chairman of Bristol Cycle Campaign, said: "Tens of thousands of ordinary people already enjoy cycling in Bristol.

"There are tens of thousands more who would like to join us, but they need to be confident that it's safe and easy. We warmly welcome this strategy which is in line with our Bristol Cycling Manifesto.

"We're looking forward to working with the council and local communities on making it happen."

Five big changes

Feeder road - A segregated cycle way from Crews Hole all the way to Temple Meads to give easy access for new Enterprise Zone commuters. Also links up with Clarence Road Dutch-style paths.

Temple Circus - The next major infrastructure project following the changes taking place at St James Barton roundabout. Will include easy access to Enterprise Zone.

Lawrence Weston - A 'cycle street' to connect Lawrence Weston to Avonmouth to handle increasing numbers of commuters.

Gloucester Road - A corridor heading north from the centre and including Gloucester Road will be subject to safety improvements for cyclists which are yet to be announced.

South Bristol - A safe cycling link from neighbourhoods in the south to the city centre will also be announced as the project gets going.

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