As I write Mark Bradshaw, Bristol City Council's executive member for transport, is speaking on Radio Bristol and seems intent on making himself loathed by another section of Bristol's traveling public by fronting a joint Council and Police purge against cyclists who are trying to cope with Bristol's notoriously cycle-hostile streets by sometimes cycling on pavements. The hapless Bradshaw, who is not even a cyclist, presumes to tell us how we should conduct ourselves when he has little understanding of the issues.
For at least 30 years cyclists' groups have been pleading with Bristol City Council (and its precursor Avon) to make the road infrastructure safe and convenient for cyclists and pedestrians. We have even promoted, on our own initiative and at our own expense, a wide variety of ideas to address this including traffic calming, 20 mph speed limits, contra-flow cycle lanes and home zones, yet little of this has been implemented and the highway network remains overwhelmingly dedicated to giving priority to speeding motor traffic.
The manifest failure of the Council to heed the warnings has resulted in them being ill-prepared to accommodate the growing popularity of cycling. Their fumbling and bungling approach to Cycling City illustrates this very well. Is not the fundamental purpose of Cycling City to 'encourage' cycling? So what is one of the Council's first Cycling City initiatives - the persecution of cyclists to appease a minority of reactionary Evening Post readers!
Cyclists, being a smallish minority group, have always been perceived as convenient scapegoats to blame for society's traffic ills, as I can attest from direct experience sitting on a road safety committee 25 years ago (when cyclists did by and large obey traffic regulations but were nevertheless always cited as the greatest threat to road safety). So we now see that Bristol City Council's approach to Cycling City includes the encouragement and legitimisation of the scapegoating of cyclists!
Famous Jewish joke. A Nazi asked a Jew who is to blame for society's ills. The Jew says "the Jews and the cyclists". The Nazi says "Why the cyclists?". The Jew says "why the Jews?".
New Cycling City joke. Bradshaw asks a cyclist who is to blame for the traffic problems. The cyclist says "the cyclists and the Somalis." Bradshaw says "why the Somalis?".