Given Bristol’s tangled history of transport planning you could be forgiven for thinking that Ian Barrett has taken on a poisoned chalice.
The Sustrans regional director volunteered to lead The Good Transport Plan, funded by Bristol 2015, which aims to bring together the somewhat disparate ambitions of transport groups in the city.
“At the first meeting we had lots of people from cycling groups, ferries, bus companies, Bristol City Council and transport consultancies – anyone interested in transport in Bristol really.”
Right from the outset the group was determined to move away from the polarised debate about transport in Bristol.
“The overwhelming feeling was that we needed to set out a positive picture for the future of transport in Bristol and get away from the Bristol pro-car or anti-car debate. We want to set out a vision that everybody could get behind and a system that worked for the city.”
The Good Transport Plan sprung from those initial meetings and, for the first time, will set out how travel in Bristol could be changed through a range of major projects.
The plan has brought together a huge public consultation and number of themes for improving transport in Bristol including:
- Protected walking and cycling routes with safer crossings at junctions
- More low emission vehicles and fewer lorries on our roads
- Reducing through traffic in the city centre
- Community-led street improvements
You simply can’t avoid the reality of transport in the city, says Ian: “Bristol’s roads are already full. We need to invest more in other ways of getting around as the population grows, or congestion and air pollution will get worse.
“The plan sets out how we can improve transport in Bristol and help create a city with vibrant public spaces and thriving community streets.”
The transport plan will also ask serious questions about the long-term future of transport in Bristol, says Ian.
“We need to ask if this is ambitious enough? What else do we need to be doing? What kind of city do we want?”
But this is not just the opinions of a few. The transport plan asked thousands of people in the city to get involved help shape the future.
“Now we are collating the answers and looking at what system people want – there all kinds of ideas in there. People are talking about tram systems, even underground systems. We now need to look at all the different things and see what is feasible,” adds Ian.
The results will be fed into the West of England Councils consultation on transport, which begins next year. A debate which will help shape the future of transport across the region.
In 30 years Ian says the group aims to have created a “city which is fun to get around and a city that is good for people’s health and environment – a city where the streets are pleasurable to be in”.
Main Photo credit: J Bewley/Sustrans