Cycling Interviews: Neil Maggs, Respect candidate

Neil, who, for now at least, is the last candidate we will interview, is the Respect Party candidate. Rather than complete the questionnaire, he has sent us a summary of his views.

I am a cyclist, I commute and ride for leisure, but I am not a lycra wearing speedster. I agree that we need to encourage cycling right across the city and amongst all ages and sections of the community. However I will also concede to the occasional use of a pavement - its unavoidable in some circumstances and these need addressing.

The cycle lanes especially in and around the centre are not adequate. Too often a short stretch of cycle lane ends at traffic lights or some other congestion. We need more of the Dutch model or even the Beijing model - I was there a few years ago and was very impressed with their cycling segregation. To build on the cycling city we need fewer cars across the city centre. I was in Athens recently and almost the whole central area called The Plaka is car free, and this creates a much safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists alike, and a much better atmosphere. If elected mayor this would be the one thing I would do for cycling - more car free areas. And in Gloucester Road, and Church Road in Redfield, rather than bus lanes, these should be more cycle friendly.

I endorse the proposal for more cycling but setting precise targets is difficult at present at this depends on so many other agendas. For instance, I am opposed to digging up the centre (again) just for the 'bendy bus' route, but if this is approved before the mayoral election then cycling will lose out to road traffic again. If I am elected mayor there will be no bendy bus route, and more cycle lanes separated from pedestrian lanes. These will cost, but we have to reduce pollution in the city so will be money well spent.

In my campaign I have pledged that, as First Bus have had 25 years to resolve local bus services and have failed, then we should bring back the Bristol Bus Company. An integrated transport hub centered on Temple Meads could include cycle routes emanating from there. This hub will obviously include the new Bristol Metro plans.

Also I have made my opposition clear to the council closures of schools. I want to see more local schools kept open so more children can cycle to school each day. The closure of a school means longer travelling distances, so more parents do the 'school run' each day which adds to road traffic. Lets keep schools open and get the kids on their bikes. And save money for the hard pressed parents who could do with spending less on petrol.