Monday 13 February 2012

The Bristol Cycling City report

You can now download the final cycling city report.

Remember, S Gloucs got 1/3 of the cash, so you'd expect 1/3 of the progress, enough to justify Bwian Allison appearing on the introduction.

So let's look at P6 at the on-road and traffic free improvements

Contra-flow streets: A number of contra-flow streets introduced to allow cyclists to travel against the flow of motor vehicles on one way streets, provide an advantage by allowing cyclists ‘filtered permeability’ through an area – mostly in central Bristol.
Measures to increase the use of the Bristol-Bath Railway Path: Two new paths have been installed to provide access to two highly populated communities. Lighting has also been installed to provide illumination up to Bristol City Council's administrative boundary

The only bit of infrastructure they cite is the concorde way. That's the one where they put the bollards in because people were actually using it.  They also discuss the bus network

Work with the Greater Bristol Bus Network: Cycling was considered using Cycle Route Implementation and Stakeholder Plans (CRISPs) to identify as many opportunities as possible to benefit cyclists in parallel with buses.

No mention of the S Gloucs plans to ban bicycles from the bus lanes on the A4174, the plans for shite shared-pavement options along the new to-cribbs route being designed.
Same page: 20 mph areas,.
The two 20mph limit pilot areas in Bristol were implemented  
See. In Bristol.  Notice a trend there?

Now P10, area -six.
The Cycling City project implemented 0.72 km of on-road and 19.19 km of traffic-free cycle infrastructure
This all sounds wonderful were not the 19.19km of off road routes 19.19km of such awfulness that the money would have better off spent in Bristol. It probably includes the old Filton Road pavement, put in so that rat-running councillors would be able to use the Old Filton Road, which was until then traffic free.

It probably includes the pavement route put in while a new bus stop was added, with the bike lane set up to crash cyclists into anyone waiting for a bus. And Appendix 6 says "Western Link to UWE". You know the one., the one which only a month ago finally got the junction to the existing infrastructure levelled off so you could actually ride it in both directions on a bicycle without suspension and off-road tyres.

As for the on-road stretch, we fear it includes the other direction of Old Filton Road, as even the council road planners realised that trying to make a pavement 1 metre wide even before it got covered in vegetation two way was daft. Instead they put some green marks down in precisely the one place you don't want to be when heading east.

Page14: a discussion on how signage benefits cycle path users. Well, in S Gloucs on those rare bits of path that do have signage, the signage is just another hazard to fear at night.

From the perspective of Bristol, the results are good. The 20 mph zone, it slows cars down a bit (excluding Ashley Down, York Road, Stapleton road, and it pretends Coronation Road isn't there). The near ubiquitous cycle parking means that trips to local shops are better -and that you feel welcome, which is not the case in S Gloucs outside the big employers.

They also claim that in Ashley Ward, 26% of people cycle to work, in Southville, Redland and Bishopston the percentage is 20%. These are not people who cycle to work in the North Fringe. how can we make such an assertion? The automated traffic count data on concorde way has apparently risen by 102%. But they don't give the figures. If 20% of people in S. Gloucs cycled to work, don't you think they would have mentioned it? If 20% of schoolkids in the area cycled to school, don't you think they would have mentioned it? They didn't. They gave some impressive numbers for the inner city, and used "percentage increases in traffic" as the measure of success in the fringe, missing the point that a doubling of fuck all is still nearly-fuck all.

Anyway: read the report. A key thing to note is that all the big employers of the area had a lot of staff engagement, their employers are supportive and with their on-site bike parking, there are the facilities. What they don't get is anything resembling the infrastructure outside their offices that they deserve.

The daily-mail commenters are always complaining that they, the tax payers, waste money on the cyclists, but what about this. The tax paying staff for the main businesses in S Gloucs, the business that pay the most business rates, don't get the cycle facilities their tax has paid for.

Why not? Because the people in charge of planning cycle facilities in S Gloucs are either dead or missing.


  1. I just read the report. There are tears in my eyes, but not because I'm laughing.

    6.8 million pounds was spent on infrastructure (page 38). The total length of new and improved infrastructure combined is 18 km of on road lane + 35 km "traffic free" (page 9).

    An average of 128000 pounds per km ? That's not actually bad as a headline figure, but it's not at all clear how much is really new, or to what quality the work has been done.

    Some of the statistical work is a little suspect. For example, comparing one day counts in May 2011 with one day counts in March 2008. I don't think you can draw much of a conclusion from that.

    It's good to see that they've used automated counting machines in some places as they give more repeatable results. However, the numbers do unfortunately remain small, and at the end of the day the numbers do matter.

    12000 in a month on one of the flagship paths represents significant growth in Bristol, but it is a somewhat lower cycling rate than you see in Groningen (a city of under half the size), where over 14000 cyclists per day are seen in multiple locations.

    This is where we enter the domain of marketing and hype:

    Last year, Groningen was considered not to have done enough to improve things, so they don't get to call themselves "cycling city". Bristol, on the other hand, still uses this term. I leave it to others to count how many times the term "cycling city" appears in Bristol's report.

  2. @David -even to measure the counts on the concorde way and declare that a success doesn't work unless you measure the counts on the alternative routes and see how they have changed. If all the work has done is divert the existing cycle traffic onto a new route, then there's been no increase at all.