On the one hand, the BBC are saying "It's failed because it didn't reach its goals", then we have the Bristol Council Conservative Party leader saying "It's failed because all the features they added have taken away road space from people who choose to drive. Choose to Drive, remember that. It is optional within the inner city, despite what some people think:
The leader of the opposition Conservative group on Bristol City Council, Geoff Gollop, said the new cycle routes were to the detriment of motorists.
He said: "The Cycling City initiative brought in match-funding which has delivered new cycling routes but these have largely been achieved at the expense of the majority of road users - by reducing road space or capacity.
"Whilst we recognise the merits of promoting cycling as a leisure activity for the individual - delivering personal health benefits and helping to improve the environment for all - this form of travel is unlikely in the near future to be a major means of commuting.
"We do not believe the £22m project can be said to have been successful even in its own terms."
From this, "the Clarkson perspective", anyone cycling is (a) a loser and (b) in their way. While the conservative party are a mostly irrelevant minority in Bristol -where the power has mostly been held by Labour, now LibDems (though elections in May might change things, the nightmare scenario is the cons party hold the balance of power.).
For all the criticism the BBC points at the council, the Bristol council leadership and the traffic team has embraced cycling. You don't see that in S Gloucs. They will be with Geoff Gollop: they want the money, but don't want it to take any space from roads, because commuting is what cars are for.
There's discussion about "what next", and proposals for more funding. We in the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire don't believe that any funding should go to the S Gloucs team unless there are fundamental changes not just in their engineering team, but in the council themselves. They will never embrace Dutch Infrastructure when they view cycling as an odd hobby for outcasts.
If you think Bristol City cycling is a failure, then you haven't tried to go round S Gloucs. And here is the joke: They have the space. This isn't the inner city, with its windy hills, residents parking on the pavements because there's no room for anything else. No, this is the quiet suburbs where you park your cars on the pavements because you can, where mediocre cycle paths are designed to keep them out of sight and out of mind. Yet these lanes aren't designed to cope with a doubling in the numbers of people using them, as they couldn't even begin to cope.
The People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire will change this. All who stand in our way shall be defeated. They shall fear our very name!
It's sad that Bristol's initiative failed in so many ways, but not surprising. Indeed, it looked like this would happen from the beginning, as they talked it into the ground instead of doing the things that needed doing.ReplyDelete
Back in 2008, someone sent me email which read "The Cycling City program is most certainly NOT heading in the right direction. It is (as it stands right now Dec. 1st) heading in the direction of failure, administrative incompetence, frittering away countless millions without a strategic vision, poor design practice and lack of accountability (though perhaps with a shiny green image stamped on top). Sorry to be blunt, but that is the truth."
I think this person was proven to have been right.
When the cycling city and the cycling towns initiatives started, I wrote to the people involved in them to suggest that coming over here for a Study Tour would be a reasonable thing to do in order to get an idea of what actually works. Not one of them responded, even to ask the price or any details of it in order to find out if it might have been of interest. I find that rather sad. They seemingly have no idea of even where to look for inspiration.
BTW, I think your link above named "in print" ought to have gone here.
1. Link is fixed.ReplyDelete
2. That email was from Joshua Hart, who came to UWE -in S Gloucs- to study traffic. The full letter was
The Cycling City program is most certainly NOT heading in the right direction. It is (as it stands right now Dec. 1st) heading in the direction of failure, administrative incompetence, frittering away countless millions without a strategic vision, poor design practice and lack of accountability (though perhaps with a shiny green image stamped on top). Sorry to be blunt, but that is the truth.
Even cycle planning professionals abroad are beginning to take notice that things aren't going as well as they could be:
Bravo Steve Kinsella for putting the reality in such clear terms and asking the difficult questions.
When will the City Council begin engaging with us, rather than working hard to keep us at a distance? We still have had no guarantee of a formal or informal input into the process.
The truth is that although Bristolians are clamoring for better transport choices, I don't think the people who run this city are ready for it to become a Cycling City. And £22.4 million ain't gonna change that.
Speaking for myself, I'd prefer to see Bristol get its act together and successfully invest the 22 mil in cycling, but if we can't manage it and get the right people to direct the funds in the right place (with an adequate albeit abbreviated consultation), I'd rather another city got the money- a city who can demonstrate the potential of cycling to solve some of our most pressing urban problems. Then perhaps Bristol will take note.
No one wants to vigorously oppose the Cycling City plan in public, but advocacy groups will have little choice if things continue as they are.
Yes, that email :-) As you'll see if you follow the link, I no longer feel I need to be anonymous as I was in Josh's blog post at the time.ReplyDelete
I tried inviting the Cycling City people to come and take a look at the Netherlands, but not only did they not come, but I also couldn't get them to respond at all. As such, they never even found out whether what we were offering could have been of any use to them.
It's rather tragic really. They've spent a lot of money, but with no real direction, and your new post shows the level of what they think is an achievement worth boasting about.
Jon Rogers and Ed Plowden were on BBC Radio Bristol on Monday, and they claimed that they'd looked at best practice from other countries, including the Netherlands...ReplyDelete
"Looking at" and "learning from and implementing" are obviously two different concepts.