Cycling in Bristol - what Mike Ginger, travel planner and cycling star thinks we need

Mike Ginger is a local cycling legend. He used to be a cycling officer at both Bristol City Council and before that, Avon County Council. Some think he has done more than anyone to kick start the resurgence in cycling in Bristol. He now works as a travel plan co-ordinator, and, in response to the interviews with mayoral candidates that we have published, we have asked him for what he thinks needs to be done to promote cycling. Here is his response.


Promoting cycling to work.

There is a still a widely held view that cyclists in Bristol are exposed to dangerous conditions. A recent survey of commuters in Temple Quay (over 400 responses) showed that in areas not served by segregated routes a substantial proportion of people regard their journeys to work and poor or very poor. Non cyclists overwhelmingly state stressful conditions as the main barrier 72%)( weather and hills much lower). Provision at the workplace was a relatively small constraint (10%). Common themes were:  poor shared routes legibility; Gloucester road; Whiteladies Road and road user behaviour. 85% regard stress-free commute by bike an important characteristic of a city that promotes a healthy lifestyle. For 18% of people choice to work in Bristol was strongly motivated by the desire for a healthier lifestyle than alternative places of work would offer and was a factor for 40% of people. Note that we are writing up a report on this (interim note attached). The approach should be extended to other employment areas.

The approach should be extended to other employment areas.

Improving workplace facilities.

Grant schemes can help (and exist) where occupiers have control on their premises. More difficult for multi-occupied where the landlord isn’t prepared to play ball. This a likely to be a fairly widespread problem but I’m not sure if the council has ever researched it, or whether the mayor could influence it in practice. Providing advice where space is tight/planning issues could be helpful. Given that many workplaces have fairly good facilities it might be better to channel some of the grant funding into adult cycle training to encourage greater take up or other incentives to encourage take up.

Access to bikes - pool bike schemes are more complicated to set than they sound, I know from experience (insurance; booking system; maintenance; getting volunteer to oversee it). Because of these issue many workplaces have never got around to going through the set up stages. On street hire would be one way to address this and would be more resource effective. Users would claim back through their travel expense claims.

Knowing what resources are available.

As a travel plan co-ordinator I try to promote travel options and materials available to support travel choices. I have little spare time for researching this. A portal for seeing what is available and ordering materials across all travel modes would be very helpful. 

A network of workplace cycling’ champions’ would be useful to allow experience and good practice to be shared, and to identify common issues for discussion with the council.

Power assisted cycles.

There is growing take up and fast changing area with a lot of options and wide price range. Objective advice to prospective users would be helpful. There are field teams of advisors and it could be that one or two advisors could be theme leads for this.

Cycle promotion at the workplace needs to seen in the context of a more holistic workplace travel plan covering commuting and business travel.