Today’s blog is by Cabinet lead for Transport, Energy and a Green New Deal Cllr Kye Dudd.
Many of us will have got out of bed today, got dressed, unlocked our bikes and cycled in to work, unaware that it is Cycle to Work day. It’s the UK’s biggest cycle commuting event – although this year’s event is open to anyone cycling anywhere!
Cycling is a popular way to get around in Bristol. 28% of Bristol residents cycle at least once a week, and 14% travel by bike five or more days within the city. We were the first Cycling City in the UK, and we have 12 miles of segregated cycle track in the city. Routes like the Bristol-Bath Railway path are popular commuting corridors with their own ‘rush hours’ as people cycle and walk to and from work.
But we know that there is more to do. Almost a quarter of residents that we’ve surveyed indicated that they don’t cycle, but would like to.
That’s why we’ve developed more cycling routes across Bristol to encourage more people to travel by bike where they can. We’ve upgraded the Filwood Greenway, a 2.6 mile route that connects South Bristol to the City Centre. We’ve seen the benefits of this investment, as cycling rates on the route almost doubled between July 2017 and July 2019.
Coronavirus has encouraged us all to think afresh about the way we allocate space in our city. We know that in parts of the city, the need to keep two metre distance is difficult to maintain on pavements and cycle lanes that were built a long time ago.
In this challenge, however, there is considerable opportunity. We have installed new bike lanes in the city centre along Park Row, Upper Maudlin Street and Marlborough Street, with cyclists protected from other road traffic by temporary bollards. The long-term ambition is to make the new road layouts permanent, as part of the transformation of Bristol’s transport network, creating cleaner air and better bus, walking and cycling journeys, alongside ongoing plans for a mass transit public transport system. You can give us feedback on the changes here.
We know we need to keep being ambitious if we want to make cycling accessible. We’ve worked with our neighbouring local authorities to develop the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, where we will collectively deliver investment of £411m by 2036 which will create up to 55 continuous cycle routes, forming a West of England-wide cycle network.
There is help and advice available at the Better By Bike scheme, including handy tips, maps and a free loan bike scheme for you to give cycling a try before investing in a bike of your own.