Cycling in Bristol should be much easier than ever before. Think of the new segregated cycle path on Baldwin Street, soon to be joined up to the new layout on the centre, arriving onto a less cobbly Castle Park and joined to Finzels Reach by a brand new cycle-friendly bridge.
Seventy-seven per cent of people in Bristol, according to a new report commissioned by Sustrans, support building more protected cycle lanes – such as the one already along two-thirds of Baldwin Street, and also along the length of Clarence Road from Bedminster Bridge roundabout towards Temple Meads – even when this can mean less room for other road traffic.
Some of the other key findings in the Bike Life 2017 report show that:
- More than 26 million trips were made by bicycle in Bristol in the past year
- Bicycles take up to 24,515 cars off Bristol’s roads each day, equal to a 73-mile tailback
- There is a £52m benefit to Bristol from riding bikes for transport and leisure annually
71 per cent of those questioned in the ICM survey said that Bristol would be a better place to live and work if more people cycled.
And yet only 29 per cent of people think cycling safety in Bristol is good, down from 31 per cent when the Bike Life survey was carried out for the first time in 2015.
This drops to only 20 per cent of people who think that the safety of children’s cycling is good.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Bristol’s cabinet member for transport Mhairi Threlfall said that she was among the 40 per cent of women in Bristol who cycled, but “I will pick my mode of travel in the same way that I will pick my shoes”, describing herself as a “self-confessed seasonal cyclist”.
Threlfall stressed the importance of the right infrastructure and the right routes in order to enable more people to get cycling.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees was unable to attend the launch at the Engine Shed, but in his introduction to the report, he wrote that he has set up a task force “to achieve improved road experiences for all users”.
He added: “Whilst I do not see myself as a cyclist, I ride my bike everywhere and want to make cycling an ordinary part of life that everyone can feel safe doing.”
Writing in The Guardian following the release of the report, which focuses on Bristol and six other cities across the UK, Andrew Gilligan, the former cycling commissioner for London, said that “cycling schemes are not hard in engineering terms. They succeed or fail on the politics.”
For all the hard work that proponents of new schemes put in, however, Gilligan says that it “relies on having a political leader who is actually willing to lead. And that species is in disappointingly short supply.
“In my London experience, some were superb but most, Labour and Tory, wanted only to talk about promoting cycling. When it came to doing anything much, their resolve faltered.”