As you would expect Bristol's bid for Cycling City status describes a city that few Bristol cyclists would recognise as their home town. Hype and hyperbole is too be expected, but one claim in particular goes well into the realms of fantasy. Bristol City Council claim that, if their bid is successful, they will have stemmed the rise in car use in just 3 years!
Now I suppose we must look carefully at what the dictionary definition of stemmed is. Collins says that to stem is to stop or hinder the spread of, so Bristol could plead they only intended to mean that they would hinder the rise in car use, but most of us, I think, would understand stemmed to mean stopped in this context. This is a remarkable claim since halting the rise in car use is proving extremely elusive throughout the UK.
For Bristol in particular such an objective, desirable as it might be, seems to be totally inconsistent with all the serious transport studies carried out in recent years, notably the Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study (which predicts a 34% rise in the number of vehicle trips in the morning peak and an increase in the proportion of journeys made by cars) and the Joint Local Transport Plan. In addition we now have projections for population growth for Bristol City alone of 27% over the next 18 years, double what was previously expected.
I don't want to give any particular credence to the GBSTS or its methodology and there are of course many provisos that must be applied to any projections, including to note that the Greater Bristol area is similar to the old Avon County Council area whereas the Cycling City bid applies to the Bristol urban area (the City and the contiguous built up areas of South Gloucestershire) where traffic growth will be more constrained. But there is such a gulf between the traffic projections being made for the Greater Bristol area and the Cycling City bid expectation to stem the rise in car use in just 3 years that one can only conclude that someone somewhere has become seriously detached from reality.