Transport in Bristol is a challenge regardless of your mode of travel. Bristol is a historic city with many protected buildings with old, constrained roads, covering a small area for our rapidly growing population. Shorter-term issues, like the shortage of bus drivers at First Bus, are causing huge frustration for us now, but our transport network has even deeper flaws.
Bristol has had no mass transit system for decades and underinvestment in infrastructure for even longer. Compounding those problems was a post-war rebuilding of our city imagined at a time when the motorcar was king.
We continue to face these challenges while modernising our infrastructure, pedestrianising swathes of our city, and growing our economy inclusively and sustainably.
When dealing with transport planning, the single biggest flaw is to approach the challenge through a single prism and a single focus. Our challenge is to enable people’s movement while bringing people with us on a journey to sustainable, efficient, low carbon travel.
Many campaigns struggle: alienating and isolating people, building barriers to growing support for change.
More immediately, our cycling plans are published in our Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Our driver for the LCWIP proposals have been the clear disparity of cycling journeys to work between wealthier and more deprived areas of the city. This plan contains routes to enable the growth of cycling amongst more disadvantaged communities.
In addition to the above all developments and infrastructure plans, we want to maximise the inclusion of safe cycling with segregation where possible. We’re also investing in a new £14 million Family Cycling Centre in Lawrence Weston, where cycle training will take place as part of a wider family cycling offer.
Active Travel England have set out standards that we aspire to where they are deliverable. We want to deliver infrastructure which enables growth of cycling amongst more disadvantaged communities.
As part of our work with the West of England Combined Authority we’ve been able to begin the project for a programme of cycle hangars in the city. We will use the funding which will be made available at the January committee to prioritise cycle hangars for council blocks. The project scored blocks against strategic criteria such as their links to strategic cycling network, levels of deprivation, and car ownership. This identified 168 cycle hangar spaces for sixteen sites, and we’ll begin installation next year.
Bristol has a clear transport hierarchy which prioritises pedestrians and then cyclists. Our work to bring e-scooters to Bristol and the huge take up they have seen has also driven alternative travel to cars, taking around 3 million car journeys off our roads and saving hundreds of thousands of kilos of CO2 emissions.
It is important to address issues with Bristol’s transport infrastructure in a way that benefits all residents and the different methods of travel.
Moving traffic offences make our roads unsafe for all road users and pedestrians. People with limited mobility and additional access requirements are especially vulnerable to people who ignore the rules of the road. These offences include driving through a ‘No Entry’ sign, going the wrong way in a one-way street, turning left or right where this is not permitted, and driving where and when motor vehicles are not allowed. In December’s Cabinet meeting we will consider a report that applies to the Secretary of State for Transport for new powers over moving traffic violations to Bristol. More details on the six enforcement sites are available here.
This is an example of a multi-issue, focused approach to improving Bristol’s transport network, that makes travel safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and all road users.
We are introducing a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to Bristol. While three-quarters of cars won’t be affected, high polluting cars will be charged for driving through a city centre zone. The CAZ will clean up the air that we all breathe, and our £42 million support fund is helping people and businesses to upgrade their vehicles. This is a holistic approach to improving how we can travel across our city. At the same time as reducing congestion and making travel easier, it will improve the health of cyclists, walkers, and residents traveling through Bristol.
Read my article with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, in the New Statesman, highlighting the importance of cleaning up the air we breathe.
Our mass transit plans have progressed and are ready to be completed by the next administration and the combined authority. This is the single most transformation approach to transport in our city for a century and will remove more car journeys than any other initiative, paving the way for far greater implementation of segregated cycling and active travel like other modern cities.