At Life Cycle UK we’re interested in what the views of Bristol’s public and political figures are in regards to cycling, especially as they have the power to impact greatly on cycling charities like us. To kick start a series of interviews with some of Bristol’s key figures, about their views on cycling, we asked mayoral candidate and patron of Life Cycle UK George Ferguson a few questions about cycling in Bristol, his opinions on cycling and how cycling in the city could be improved, here’s what he said:
Do you cycle? If so, what sort of cyclist would you describe yourself? (E.g. commuter, wobbler, lycra-wearer)
My cycling is generally fair weather urban nowadays – Bristol and London – on a folding Brompton – otherwise walking or electric Smart car. I'm not a lycra wearer, but have done so on a 400 mile charity cycle ride - under red trousers! I have cycled from Salisbury to Barcelona via the Pyrenees, and Oslo to Stockholm in my youth and been on gentler cycling holidays in England, Ireland and France – so more than a wobbler!
In general terms, what is your opinion of cyclists in Bristol? (eg congestion busting, eco-warriors; above the law bunch of *****; other)
Fit eco-heroes! Apart from walkers they are the people who are most doing their bit to improve Bristol's environment and help improve the degraded urban air quality that they suffer from. There is the odd idiot cyclist that gives cycling a bad name, but they are very much the exception.
What in your view are the biggest problems faced by cyclists in Bristol?
Thoughtless motorists and a failure to enforce cycle lanes by busy roads. The fear of muggings and theft on isolated routes.
What was your opinion of Bristol as a Cycling City?
I presented a BBC1 film challenging Bristol about Cycling City, comparing it with Groningen in Holland which demonstrated how far we have to go. However, Bristol has significantly increased an awareness of cycling and most importantly encouraged school children to cycle and the Council to work for safer routes to schools, for which much more work still needs doing. There is much scope still to have some more bike hire sites although maybe a Boris Bike type scheme would fail with bikes accumulating at the bottom of the hills.
If there was one thing you could do to improve cycling in the city, what would it be?
Enforce cycle lanes.
The Greater Bristol Cycling Strategy 2011-2026 has targets of 20% of all journeys by bike by 2026 (with an intermediate target of 9% by 2015). The baseline figure was 4% of all journeys in 2008 Do you endorse these targets?
The same strategy suggests that funding should be allocated at £11 per capita across the strategy area, rising to £20 in target areas. If elected, would you commit this level of resources to cycling?
This sounds reasonable but I am wary of making a specific promise of this nature until I am fully aware of all the budgetary implications. My attitude should however be clear and I would like to see a spending formula that is tied to the resultant savings in other modes of transport.
Will you endorse the Times Campaign 8 point manifesto?
Yes – in spirit – if not committing in exact terms about number of traffic junctions and use of traffic lights etc.
What other measures would you seek to introduce which either directly or indirectly will promote cycling? Do you have any other comments about cycling, walking or other methods of sustainable travel?
Radial cycle routes into the centre, more shared space encouraging civilised sharing of space by all modes of transport in line with Copenhagen practice, safer routes to school and measures to dissuade parents driving their children to school. Incentives for businesses to encourage cycling by employees.
Close a swathe of the city centre to cars, on Sundays, as is done so successfully one Sunday a month in our twin city of Bordeaux.
Would you be willing to attend a cycle hustings on Tuesday October 30th, 7.30pm, YHA?
Yes - It's in my diary!