July saw the launch of Bristol City Council’s much awaited Cycling Strategy, which outlines how far cycling in the city has come in the past few years, as well as setting out the Council’s vision for cycling in in the future.
Key to the new Strategy is the commitment to spend £16 per head of population on cycling over the next three years, a figure typical of the best European cities for cycling Copenhagen and Amsterdam – but rarely seen in the UK. Much of this spending is due to go on infrastructure projects, such as improving and maintaining the cycle network. This is undoubtedly good news; although it should be noted that most of the schemes identified are not new projects, but those with funding and already in the pipeline.
From Life Cycle’s perspective the document is more of a Vision than a Strategy, as it lacks detail on how the Council plan to achieve their goals. We are particularly keen to find out more about their specific plan for cycle training, for example. Whilst the Strategy makes a clear general commitment to cycle training, there is no detail of what this means in terms of a setting a target for the number of people to be trained – or indeed, how the funds will be made available to do so.
Interestingly, this strategy was issued a few days before the Parliamentary Transport Committee’s third report on cycle safety was published, in which MP’s argued:
Cycle training should be available to all cyclists: children of primary and secondary age, adults seeking to gain confidence, and those looking to refresh their road skills. Local authorities should work with local cycling organisations and retailers to fund and promote this training and ensure that it is best suited to the local environment.
With the General Election less than a year-off, concerns exist over whether Bikeability will be included as a clear part of any future government’s transport strategy. It seems incredible to us that any government wouldn’t want to keep promoting cycling and ensuring people of all ages have the skills to do so safely - but you can never assume! Whilst Life Cycle isn’t a campaigning organisation, we are a member of The Association of Bikeability Schemes (TABS) and they are lobbying hard to make sure Bikeability continues to be funded into the future.
The Cycling Strategy is currently open to public consultation so if you would like to put in your pennies worth, you have until 11th August to comment: https://www.citizenspace.com/bristol/city-transport/cycle-strategy