From upgrading pedestrian crossings to creating segregated routes for cyclists, we’re continuing to work to make walking and cycling safer and more pleasant across the city.
That is why I am thrilled that at this month’s Cabinet meeting, we agreed to accept £3.4 million funding secured from the Department for Transport as part of Tranche 4 of the Active Travel Fund, which is administered by the West of England Combined Authority.
We will use £1.6 million of this to deliver our Old City and King Street pedestrian scheme, which is a priority for the Mayor and our administration. Construction work is set to get underway later this year to make the changes permanent, and work should be completed by March 2024.
The project includes:
Creating a segregated cycle path on Queen Charlotte Street
Improving the King Street and Queen Charlotte Street junction through accessibility and safety features for pedestrians
A new zebra crossing on Crow Lane
New cycle parking in the area
Improving the infrastructure of this historic part of the city, so it is safe and accessible, will help to improve air quality and create an attractive space that will be a further boost to local businesses, while making sure it is appropriate for this iconic part of Bristol.
We will use £871,000 of the funding to draw up detailed plans for four proposed active travel schemes, which includes:
Old Market Quietway
Improvements could include segregated cycle paths, upgraded or new crossings, upgraded junctions, and wayfinding.
Work will now take place to design these schemes so they are ready to be constructed, at which point we would need to seek more funding. We will of course run engagement exercises and consult with residents, traders and businesses throughout the process.
The remaining £915,599 of the funding will go towards installing cycle hangars across Bristol and the wider region. These are lockable pods used to store bikes safely on the street, which should encourage even more people to get on their bikes regularly.
All these active travel projects, and more in the pipeline, will make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, which is great for our health and wellbeing as we work to encourage more sustainable ways to move about the city.
We’re long past the days when the whir of an electric vehicle (EV) was a new and unfamiliar sound. According to Zap Map, the UK’s leading app and digital platform for EV drivers, more than 760,000 electric cars were registered in the UK at the end of April 2023. 15.4 per cent of all new car registrations are battery electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles form part of our arsenal in the fight against climate change and reducing air pollution.
So, whether you’re an electric convert or just beginning to think about the possibilities, here’s an introduction to all things EV and how we’re helping support the switch to cleaner transport in Bristol. You can also read more about how we’re getting businesses into EVs with our free trial scheme.
Choosing an electric vehicle
Although often still more expensive to buy than most petrol and diesel vehicles, EVs are generally considered to be cheaper to run with lower maintenance and refuelling costs. The range of makes and models available are growing steadily so there’s lots of choice.
First things first, you’ll need to decide which vehicle is right for you. We’ve worked with independent experts, the Energy Saving Trust, on driver training initiatives in Bristol and suggest you check out their guide to EVs as a starting point.
Charging an electric vehicle – a quick intro
We understand that the decision to go electric is closely linked to the availability of charging points nationally and locally so here’s the low-down on chargers:
EV charge points are operated by a range of providers, some run privately and others are maintained by public bodies, like ours (Revive) which is backed and owned by the four West of England local authorities.
Anyone can use a public charge point. You’ll need to sign up for an account with the charger provider, or use contactless payment where available, then you can plug in and pay for the electricity you use.
There are different types and speeds of charging. Standard or slow charging is for long dwell times such as charging at home. Fast charging is what you will find at destinations like shopping centres and leisure centres and could charge a car between four and 12 hours depending on the vehicle. Rapid or ultra-rapid charging can charge a vehicle in 15 to 60 minutes depending on the EV and are typically found at service stations and on key routes in cities and towns.
Charging in Bristol
According to the government’s most recent report, there are more than 35,000 charge points across the UK, a number which has been growing since records began in 2015.
That report also shows that, in the South West, there are more than 2,500 chargers with more than 150 of those units in Bristol (an increase of 11 per cent in the last year).
Other ways we’re supporting the use of electric vehicles
We helped Zedify, a zero-emissions delivery service, to set up a place near the city centre where deliveries are made by lorry. These goods are then delivered to houses and businesses by electric bikes and vans. Zedify and other similar delivery services are now operating successfully in the city.
We’ve replaced 10 per cent of our own vehicles which we use to deliver our services with electric vehicles.
It’s been a year since we launched Bristol’s electric van loan scheme giving local businesses the chance to borrow an electric vehicle, for free, for between four and eight weeks.
As we’re halfway through the two-year scheme, funded by National Highways, there is still time to try an electric vehicle, but you will need to sign up soon as the scheme is proving popular with businesses across the city.
We have a range of small, medium and large vans available as well as five cars (for smaller independent traders such as hairdressers) and two hackney carriage taxis.
In the last year over 150 firms have tested one of our EVs to see what they’re like and how they would fit into their business.
We asked them to tell us what the experience was like and 91 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the driving experience and 97 per cent said they would recommend the EV trial to other businesses.
Residents’ Parking Zones (RPZs) came into effect in 2013 under the former mayor as a headline transport intervention. They were introduced amid substantial controversy, to cover central Bristol and surrounding areas. The zones are an attempt at managing our city’s limited parking space while striking a balance with connectivity.
Controversies have included that they provide benefits to those able to afford the permit(s), and to people living in central areas to the detriment of residents living in outer wards. One point frequently made against the schemes is that nobody owns the road outside their house and that RPZs effectively extend the boundaries of homes in central areas.
RPZs were primarily intended to reduce commuter parking and therefore car journeys. There is no evidence that they have contributed to reduced car use, although it is difficult to precisely measure its impact. What is clear, is evidence that they have contributed to increasing short term car journeys inside the zones. Given this evidence, I do struggle to understand why self-styled environmental campaigners and some councillors consistently advocate for the convenience of private car ownership when they insist that they want an RPZ for their areas. Worse still, they regularly ignore the housing crisis and try to block planning applications for new homes in the name of parking pressures.
What is certain is we all need to improve our attitude to our often-crowded spaces, for pedestrians, cyclists, e-scooter users, and motorists. Our streets also need space for street trees, sustainable drainage systems, electric vehicle charge points, cycle hangars, and other features. Single issue campaigners often struggle to see the bigger picture.
Since coming into effect, the zones, the charging structures, and their operation have remained largely unchanged without any review of their operation or effectiveness. Meanwhile, over the past decade, we’ve seen major changes in how Bristol operates alongside advances in national ideas about how we could better maximise the use of limited space available in growing urban areas.
After almost a decade of the zones being in place, it’s important we take the opportunity to revaluate the role they play. Most RPZs are in areas of higher density, older housing with limited parking space. The schemes have had some success in reducing anti-social parking, and we’ve been open-minded about where councillors work with communities to build and demonstrate overwhelming support for the introduction and/or expansion of zones.
That same year, along with our neighbours and the West of England Combined Authority, we adopted the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP) which, among other policy areas, set out the following commitment: “Through the development of local parking strategies, we will continue to manage parking to control future traffic demand, including policies for on-street parking, off-street parking and residential parking schemes where appropriate. The design and location of new developments and at workplaces, as well as the numbers of spaces, will help to manage demand and reduce the dependency on the private car. All day parking will be controlled in a way to discourage users who could transfer to lower carbon travel choices.”
This passage from the JLTP recognises the need to move away from a one-size fits all approach to parking, traffic, and transport issues to encourage the adoption of schemes that fit the local context and need. In this spirit, the Mayor set out in his 2020 State of the City Address that: “Rather than expand the simplistic and outdated Residents’ Parking Zones, we are working with communities towards liveable streets, improving the public realm, enhancing public transport and active travel.”
This commitment to review the structures already in pace and take action to better listen to the needs of communities was clear in the manifesto which saw us re-elected. That process has seen the community design the city’s first Liveable Neighbourhoods trial in East Bristol across Barton Hill, Redfield, and parts of St George. A second scheme is in the early stages of being developed in BS3.
These new schemes are light-years ahead of the RPZs and aim to counter the growing tendency within these zones for short, local trips by car when active travel should be considered.
The next stage of the process will be brought to our next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 6 June, where I will present a paper that aims to bring the RPZs up to date with the change the city’s going through and align with evolving national policy.
Removing reductions provided to low emissions vehicles, currently free below 100g CO2 and half price between 101 and 110g CO2, to align with an existing government policy change to remove many of the reductions offered to lower emissions vehicles through Vehicle Excise Duty, since parking is about space, not emissions.
Doubling cost of secondary permits, from £112 to £224, and raising the cost of third permits from £224 to £560.
Increasing Central Parking Zone (CPZ) permit fees from £50 to £250, to reflect the premium on space in our city centre.
These proposals will be followed later this year by additional potential measures to comprehensively further review the effectiveness of the RPZs.
Two construction projects are set to get underway in June that will improve journeys across Bristol Bridge and around Cotham Hill.
The first project that will have spades in the ground is at Bristol Bridge, where work will take place to install a segregated two-way cycle lane and remove the traffic signals to replace them with pedestrian crossings. The work falls under the A37/A4018 strategic corridor project to improve the reliability of the number 2 bus service and make walking and cycling easier and safer.
We’re bringing the Bristol Bridge section of the works forward as its traffic signals are old and could fail if we don’t replace them soon. The £1.4 million project is being funded using investment secured through the West of England Combined Authority’s allocation from the Transforming Cities Fund and the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. We’re also progressing the plans for the other phases of the number 2 bus route, including extending the Bristol Bridge cycle lane along Victoria Street, which could get started next year.
The second set of construction works to get started this June is over at Cotham Hill and surrounding streets. This follows on from our popular trial of the pedestrianisation scheme, which saw Cotham Hill close between Whiteladies Gate and Hampton Lane and between Hampton Park and Abbotsford Road, in 2021.
Workers will be on site to improve the pedestrian crossings and pavements, carry out changes to junctions and some resurfacing within the pedestrianised areas, add new one-ways and loading and disabled parking bays, and install cycle stands, benches, bins and planters and trees. The new additions will not only make the streets more attractive and easier to walk and cycle down, but they will continue to support local businesses to trade outside and will hopefully boost footfall as more and more people enjoy this traffic-free zone. The £645,000 scheme is being funded by Active Travel England and via the West of England Combined Authority through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement set aside for Liveable Neighbourhood projects in Bristol.
We’re aiming to have both of these schemes completed by the end of the year, which will be great for boosting sustainable transport and active travel in Bristol. These projects are just two in a series of schemes across the city we’re working on that will make getting about local streets easier and improve our neighbourhoods.
This summer will also see the start of work on Castle Street’s junction with Tower Hill to install a segregated cycle route and widen the crossings so they’re safer for pedestrians and cyclists. We’re also gearing up to start construction work on a package of improvements throughout the Old City and Queen Charlotte Street as well as improving connections to King Street later this year. Work is set to include creating a new segregated cycle path and footpath along Queen Charlotte Street and improving access for pedestrians to Queen Square. There will also be improved pedestrian access from the Bristol Bridge junction to Baldwin Street and Castle Park and other improvements, such as dropped kerbs, improved crossings and raised tables, to make walking, wheeling and cycling more accessible and safer across the area.
With all these schemes, and more on the way, it shows we are continuing to invest in our streets to make sure people can embrace more sustainable ways to move around the city, which will not only help reduce congestion, but will help to cut pollution and meet our climate pledge.
As a growing city, we need to transform the way we travel in Bristol and make more sustainable forms of transport, including active travel and public transport, more accessible and reliable.
For this to happen, we need a public transport service that is fit for purpose. Alongside regional plans to improve rail travel and our long-term vision for a mass transit system with underground sections, we are working on changes to key bus routes through Bristol to improve the experience for users.
We know that people travelling by bus look for a quick and reliable service, and that this is a major factor when deciding how to do the daily commute to work or study. That’s why we have been asking for views on plans to improve a number of main bus routes, known as strategic corridors.
The routes we are looking at include the A37/A4018 and the A4 Portway. We’ve also recently added the A38 south Metrobus extension to the programme, and are working across the city centre to deliver infrastructure improvements for buses and bikes, as well as the wider public realm. The West of England Combined Authority is now leading on the A4 Bath Road improvements.
When we met on Tuesday 2 May, Cabinet considered plans to speed up the delivery of the number 2 bus route project and agreed funding arrangements for the overall strategic corridors programme.
Following on from two rounds of community engagement on the plans for the A37/A4018, which follows the number 2 bus route from Stockwood to Cribbs Causeway via the city centre, we have agreed to split the project into three phases.
This will include drawing up full business cases for the central and southern sections and continuing to work on an outline business case for the whole route, including the northern section.
Our new approach means we’ll be able to get started sooner on the central section, which includes the Victoria Street and Colston Avenue bus lanes, as well as the south Bristol section, which goes from Temple Meads to Stockwood, while we review the northern section, from Park Street to north Bristol.
We agreed that we need to spend a bit more time reviewing the options for the northern section of the route due to the complexity of the design and the impact it could have on the rest of the transport network.
At Cabinet, we also heard how the initial plan was to invest £3.5 million in designing all the strategic corridors schemes, but we now project that they will cost almost double this at £6.1 million, due to the scale and complexity of the projects.
We have agreed to seek the extra funding from the West of England Combined Authority, through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. It won’t come out of the budget for running other services or our £2.4 million Pothole Action Fund!
The strategic corridors programme will not only prioritise the bus service, but it will also make walking and cycling easier and safer, while overall helping to reduce congestion across the city, reducing carbon and improving our air quality.
The highways department at the council manages and maintains over 750 miles of roads across the network. It’s a pretty expansive network that requires constant monitoring and maintenance. A big part of that job is identifying, fixing and monitoring potholes across the city.
Despite the effort we put in to maintain the roads, we can’t be everywhere at once and I understand how frustrating potholes can be for motorists and other road users. I hear often about the concern people have about the number of potholes across Bristol and have been working closely with officers to ensure the plans and finances are in place to tackle issues as quickly as possible.
Back in March, I was pleased to confirm an investment of over £9 million had been secured to carry out essential highways maintenance and deliver transport schemes. As part of that funding, £1.4 million was put into the city’s Pothole Action Fund to pay for important road repairs and surfacing works.
Now, only a few weeks later, I’m delighted to be able to add a further £1 million to that fund, bringing this year’s Pothole Action Fund up to £2.4 million. This extra funding, secured from extra money made available by the Department for Transport, will be used to increase on the 2,500 pothole repairs carried out on average per year.
Our focus remains squarely on preventing defects from happening in the first place and we have a fully funded programme of maintenance interventions such as surface dressing, micro asphalt and other approaches lined us throughout the year.
By using a mix of inspections by highways officers, using digital condition surveys and reports from residents and visitors, we can prioritise this work to ensure the most necessary works are planned in first. This is why it’s important that if anyone sees an issue with the highway they should report it and help us better map out the areas we need to spend this additional funding on.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Bristol Bus Boycott, on 30 April 1963, after Guy Reid-Bailey was turned away from a job interview at the Bristol Omnibus Company once they realised that he was Black. The Boycott saw the “colour bar” lifted after many months of action. It is an incredibly important part of the history of our city and, given its contribution to the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968, our country too.
The men and women who led the Bristol Bus Boycott brought protest to our streets and legislation to the statute book. People like Asher and I have been able to walk through the doors that they opened for people of colour. We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, and I thank all of the organisers of Friday’s event for giving us the opportunity to thank and celebrate them once again on the 60th anniversary of the start of the Boycott.
People like Barbara Dettering are both personal and political role models across Bristol. That was true for me when I was a kid playing at Bristol West Indies, the cricket club that Guy Reid-Bailey OBE co-founded, and both before and after the 2012 mayoral elections, when Paul Stephenson was a real support for me. It was also clear at a recent primary school visit in Whitchurch, where pupils rightly spoke to me with reverence about our city’s civil rights leaders and the lasting change that the Bristol Bus Boycott achieved.
Bristol City Council last year issued an apology to Guy for his treatment by the Bristol Omnibus Company, alongside conferring Freedom of the City upon him and Barbara. This, the highest civic honour which can be bestowed, recognising outstanding contributions to life in Bristol. It was also posthumously given to Roy Hackett MBE, to whom Asher paid tribute last year; Owen Henry; Audley Evans; and Prince Brown. Dr Paul Stephenson OBE was conferred with the honour in 2007. Rosa Parks, who started an earlier bus boycott over 4,000 miles away, is deservedly widely known. But we need to do more, locally and nationally, together to ensure that the names of Bristol’s own civil rights leaders are not forgotten.
Friday saw an event at M Shed, in front of an old Bristol bus, where I was asked to speak alongside Barbara Dettering, Joyce Morris Wisdom, Councillor Asher Craig, Roger Griffith MBE, Gamba Cole, Doug Claringbold, Vernon Samuels, Jacqui Wilson, and Miles Chambers. We will look to organise another event, to mark the 60th anniversary of the success of the Boycott, later this year.
Please credit all images to the Mayor of Bristol’s office, linking to this page where possible.
Since its construction back in 1809, our city’s historic Floating Harbour has had very little done to maintain it. For most of its life it was a working harbour and a key gateway to Bristol at the height of maritime trade and travel.
Since closing to commercial shipping in 1975, our Floating Harbour has seen a big growth in its role as a residential area, a tourism magnet, and a space for all manner of watersports and activities – all the while remaining a working harbour and home to a diverse ecologically rich community of wildlife.
Continuing the trend of previous administrations of dodging investment in our harbour is not an option. As much as any road, bridge, or cycle path, our floating harbour is a central part of the city’s infrastructure. As a home, a workplace, and a travel route, our harbour plays many roles and we’re taking the steps necessary to ensure its maintenance is prioritised.
We announced in December 2021 that we had bid for £1.25 million of funding to spend on works required to the Underfall Yard sluices. The sluices are an integral part of how our harbour manages itself. They have been providing Bristol with a means of regulating the water levels within our harbour since 1840.
Due to the tidal nature of the River Avon and the high levels of water which flow downstream from it and other main water courses (including the River Frome), these sluices provide our city with a critical flood defence measure.
Since then, we’ve been taking steps to identify further funding for these works and I was delighted, at the most recent cabinet meeting, to approve the receipt of a funding award of £1.75 million from the Environment Agency that fully funds the necessary works.
This additional funding means the sluices, where some of the infrastructure if over 100 years old, will get the refurbishment they need to continue to protect our city for many years to come.
When you add this to the funding of the Capricon Quay project to make 32 more berths for boats, investing in new pontoons and washroom facilities, plus upcoming efforts to progress work on the harbour walls, it’s clear this administration is taking the issue of our harbour’s health seriously.
We have embarked on a three-year programme of work to replace 29,000 of Bristol’s old street lights with LEDs that could save council taxpayers up to £2 million a year in energy and maintenance costs.
The move to LED street lighting supports our ambition to cut the city’s carbon emissions while offering best value to our residents.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) have lots of benefits because they:
use less energy so are cheaper to run
last for many years without needing to be replaced
produce fewer carbon emissions
direct light down reducing light pollution
We are replacing the lanterns of old street lights one area at a time and have started on home ground for me in Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward. This will see our electrical engineers using a lifting platform to install the new LED lanterns street-by-street.
As we only need to switch out the lanterns, and not lamppost columns, it will only take about 20 minutes to upgrade each street light, so disruption on local roads should be kept to a minimum.
You can help us by leaving space around the street light outside your home on the day your street is due to be upgraded. Look out for a letter from our contractor, Centregreat, in advance telling you when this will be and if you need to find alternative parking for the day.
Towards the end of April we’ll move onto our Park & Ride sites in Portway and Long Ashton. Then, in June, the plan is to continue the rollout in residential areas in the north of the city.
Over the summer, we’ll focus on upgrading the street lights along main A and B roads across the city. There will need to be some traffic management in place for this, which could mean temporary traffic lights in some areas for short periods of time.
Heritage lanterns will be upgraded on an ad hoc basis and will be in a similar style and character to the existing equipment but with improved efficiency.
We will continue with the upgrade on residential streets, ward-by-ward across the whole of Bristol, from the autumn onwards.
We are also set to introduce a central management system that will allow us to control and monitor our LED street lighting remotely using smart city technology. This means we will be able to dim lights or brighten up an area with the touch of a button, improving safety and helping us during any incidents.
Overall, we are investing almost £12 million into this city-wide project, which we now estimate will result in a saving of 20,000 tonnes of carbon within ten years of the upgrade (based on 2022 figures).
It’s amazing that by switching over to LEDs it will make such a difference to our environmental impact and bring down our energy costs substantially, meaning it’s a win-win for the city.
Keeping Bristol’s roads in good condition is essential to create a well-connected city, that is easy for people to travel around. That’s why I’m pleased that the council is investing over £9 million to continue our important highways improvement work and help keep the city moving.
We’ve secured over £8 million from the Combined Authority to carry out essential maintenance and deliver transport schemes, and we’ve allocated a further £1 million towards these projects.
This work will help to drive growth and productivity in the city by improving highways connections, ensuring that everyone in Bristol can get to where they need to go. Part of this package includes the Pothole Action Fund, which totals £1.4 million for important road repairs and surfacing works.
I know that potholes are a pain for any for any road user, so I’m happy to share more detail about how we’re taking action before potholes become a problem.
What have we done so far to reduce potholes?
Our teams work hard throughout the year to keep our road surfaces in good condition, making sure that Bristol’s streets and footways are safe for everyone to use. Between 2016/17 and 2021/22 the number of potholes on Bristol’s roads were reduced from 4649 to 1838, this is a 60% decrease. Over the last 12 months, the highways team have repaired over 2,500 potholes on our roads, footpaths, and bridges and we’ve averaged an impressive 691 total defect repairs each month.
This is vital to ensuring our streets are safe and accessible for all road users, to prevent accidents and make sure journeys are pleasant for everyone whether walking, cycling, or driving.
But despite this great progress, I know that keeping our roads healthy is a constant undertaking that’s made harder in the winter months when the weather is worse and challenged further by historic under-investment both locally and nationally.
The funding we have secured for highways works will help us face this challenge head on and ensure the people of Bristol have the safe roads that they need.
Tackling the problem early
We take a preventative approach to maintaining our streets to make sure that we carry out repair works at an early opportunity to avoid the state of the road surface from worsening further. This is recognised as industry best practice and can also reduce the carbon emissions involved in highways maintenance.
We collate reports of potholes and road defects received by members of the public as well as analysis from detailed surveys and inspections carried out by staff. Issues that have the risk of deteriorating if left untouched are prioritised for repair first to prevent further damage.
Over the next year, work will be carried out to repair road or path surfaces that have been damaged by busy traffic and wear. Weak spots will be strengthened to manage structural issues in the road surface ahead of surface dressing where the road is sprayed with a hot, tar-like material called bitumen and will then covered with stone chippings and rolled flat.