Bristol - Cycling City?

Money spent...

Bristol is Britain’s first ‘Cycling City’ – a much heralded £22 million project.

So what does £22 million buy?

-Better by bike – judge for yourself

-Cycle lanes – which: • have trees and signposts growing in them • that disappear at dangerous junctions • that are improperly marked • that are never cleaned • that go the against the traffic in one way streets, yet are incredibly poorly signposted from a driver’s perspective.

-Cycle paths: • for dog walkers and resultant shit • without any markings or priorities • which are too narrow for bikes to pass each other • which are never cleaned and become puncture jungles.

-An excuse for motorists to behave badly when cyclists cannot use unusable facilities.

-Road narrowing measures on wider roads to provide more room for pedestrians and less space for cyclists.

-A policy with no joined up thinking.

-Bike safety lessons with instructors who don’t wear helmets.

As a member of one of Bristol’s foremost institutions it is possible for me to understand the laborious and glacial nature of the institutions behind such initiatives.

Despite the disappointing efforts of this project it would seem that some bike routes off main roads are effective and well used, is this merely incidental in a project as large as this, the exception that proves the rule? Discreet, well lit, and maintained cycle lanes, rather than pavement or parking extensions have to be the future.

Any project that brings the plight of the everyday cyclist to the attention of the wider world must be a good idea, so some signage on the roads entering Bristol would benefit drivers to make them aware that cyclists have priority in the city (although they obviously don’t).

Meanwhile, Bristol is Britain’s first Cycling City – on the insistence of those on bikes who organise events, lobby the council, run the bike shops, race in the races and ride to work, the website authors, the cafe owners – those of us who love to ride and appreciate that this is the best located city in the UK, easy to escape from into the hills that surround Bristol at all points of the compass.

Whilst you may be ready to criticise this critique of a laudable initiative I would suggest that you come to Bristol and sample our facilities, please feel free to contact us for a guided tour…

In the meantime, don’t copy Bristol, have a look at Copenhagenize and Cities fit for cycling.