Today’s guest blog comes from my Cabinet Lead for Transport and Connectivity, Mhairi Threlfall.
Keeping the city moving is one of the biggest challenges facing Bristol. Reliable and affordable transport options in some parts of the city are still limited, resulting in poor access to jobs and opportunities. Bristol’s poor air quality, mainly caused by pollutants from vehicle use, contributes to hundreds of early deaths a year. And we will be developing thousands of new homes and jobs to accommodate growth in the city over the next 20 years, which means there will be more people to move around on an already congested network.
In many ways we have already made progress in improving the transport and connectivity from our homes to our places of work or leisure. We have rising levels of public transport use in Bristol, bucking the national trend, and we secured funding to provide free bus vouchers and loan bikes for people not in education, employment or training to help them get to interviews, training and work placement opportunities. As the first Cycling City in the UK, we attracted high levels of investment in our infrastructure, and we now have higher levels of cycling to work than Sheffield, Nottingham and Liverpool combined. We are also responding to need to tackle air pollution through our Clean Air Plan, which looks at sustainable clean-fuelling alternatives for our buses, taxis and diesel cars.
Although getting the right policy and processes in place is important to solving our transport challenges, the world does not stand still. To be able to respond to current challenges as well as new and emerging ones, we are taking a strategic approach to our transport. The Bristol Transport Strategy is the first of its kind: it lays out clearly the key challenges we face, it will act as a “linchpin” policy document for our other mode-specific strategies, and it will set out the vision for transport in the city of the next 20 years. It will be going out to consultation in the early autumn, and will be a chance for you to have your say. Our Transport Strategy uses the technical assessment captured in the Joint Transport Study to identify how we can all work together to improve transport in Bristol.
Transport movements go beyond our city boundaries, and so our Bristol Transport Strategy will feed into the Joint Local Transport Plan to reflect our regional plans for transport also for the next 20 years. Our proposed Joint Spatial Plan will help us respond to the need to build more homes by pairing sustainable transport schemes recommended by the Joint Transport Study with unlocked development sites to mitigate the impact of growth. The Joint Spatial Plan and Joint Local Transport Plan gives us this opportunity to plan ahead with a “transport first” approach to new developments, and includes a ring of park and rides, rapid and mass transit and active travel.
We are continuing to deliver on our current programmes, including Better Bus Area Fund 2 and Cycling Ambition Fund 2 projects. Bristol remains committed to the delivery of Metrowest phase one and two, we recently solidified our commitment to the Portishead line, as well as securing funding to deliver the Portway Park & Ride station. Our increased focus on walking and cycling is fundamental for a heathier and more resilient city network. The Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure plan is examining our walking and cycling networks to identify the “missing pieces”, including where we can create safer, more pleasant journeys. This is incredibly important as many quote inappropriate infrastructure as a disincentive for getting on a bike.
There is a lot going on, but getting the right policy framework in place will enable us to respond much better and keep Bristol moving into the future.
Detail on current major projects can be found on the Travelwest website.