News / cycling

Labour councillor calls Cycling Campaign ‘arrogant and dismissive’

By Martin Booth, Monday Nov 28, 2022

Members of Bristol Cycling Campaign have invited a leading Labour councillor to come on a cycling tour to see some of the issues across the city for himself after he called campaigners “arrogant and dismissive”.

Fabian Breckels was commenting underneath a Bristol24/7 article on Facebook about Marvin Rees’ response to a petition asking for safer cycling.

Breckels wrote: “If the Bristol Cycling Campaign were not so arrogant and dismissive of other road users, perhaps the Council would listen to them more. Cyclists, and scooter users, are often the biggest threat to pedestrians.”

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His comments were met with anger from members of the campaign group and opposition politicians, who also called out the councillor for St George Troopers Hill ward for using alternative facts.

Government figures from 2009 to 2013 shows that one pedestrian in that time was killed by a cyclist, with 68 pedestrians killed by cars in the same period.

Bristol Cycling Campaign’s Tom Swithinbank replied to Breckels: “It’s unfortunate you feel bikes/scooters are the threat to pedestrians, evidence says that’s not the case. Do have a look at the East Bristol consultation, you’ll see that it’s vehicle danger that is the biggest concern to Bristol residents.”

Michelle Grace said: “I can’t breathe due to vehicle pollution. I cycle. I’ve never been a threat to any pedestrian. Your response is not based on reality.”

Leader of Bristol’s Green group of councillors, Heather Mack, wrote: “I request you correct the misinformation you are spreading about the threat to pedestrians from cyclists. This is part of a fear campaign that is creating conflict between vulnerable road users and giving car drivers a scapegoat…

“People become scared of cyclists in shared spaces because of comments like this. You are therefore pitting active travellers against each other, which in result damages our health and our environment.”

Shadow cabinet member for transport, David Wilcox added: “Fabian Breckels, how many cyclists in Bristol have to die to justify your status quo? Your party has subscribed to Vision Zero for all road deaths. Start acting like you need to implement this change.”

Breckel’s comments come after Labour cabinet member Nicola Beech criticised members of Bristol Cycling Campaign for leaving City Hall after the debate for safer cycling infrastructure concluded.

The debate at full council was held after a petition gained almost 4,000 signatures, with a blog by Marvin Rees deemed sufficient to respond to the petition and subsequent debate.

Bristol24/7 has contacted Breckels but has received no reply.

Main photo: Martin Booth

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