River Street -new cycle infrastructure, apparently.
Bristol was awarded Cycling City status last June and the then Labour administration wasted no time in presenting visions of great things to come. Remember talk of a citywide bike hire scheme modeled on Paris' Velib scheme? Remember talk of traffic wardens on bicycles booking motorists for blocking cycle lanes? Remember talk about making the whole city centre traffic free? Then the autumn of reality came and those first green shoots turned to dead leaves, to be quietly cast onto the compost heap of political hype.
This year's crop of green shoots appeared early with this Press Release in February, promising us £17.6 million worth of infrastructure improvements comprising 13 miles of new cycle track, 18 miles of improvements to existing off-road tracks and 21 miles of on-road improvements on major routes into the city. That's a total of 52 miles of route which sounds impressive....until you look into it. For a start 39 miles of that is just existing route which, it is claimed, will be improved in some way, which could be quite minor stuff like putting in street lights or signing.
So really we're looking at just 13 miles of allegedly new cycle 'track'. But watch out for those Nulabour weasel words - cycle 'track' isn't the same as cycle 'route'. An existing cycle route might have a cycle track built along side it and then become counted as 'new' infrastructure, yet for practical purposes little may be gained.
One such example is Hartcliffe Way (above), where cyclists already have the use of the carriageway (the road - safer when going downhill) and the shared use footway (useful when you're going uphill and perfectly adequate given the minimal number of cyclists and pedestrians), so what is to be gained by building yet another path/track/route (call it what you will) on the other side of the road?
Today, just hours before tonight's meeting of the Cycling City Stakeholders' Panel, more details of the proposed routes and links are being made available on-line. At the time of blogging we have 17 elements posted, although the details remain sketchy in many cases. But there's enough there to attempt a rough and ready analysis of what's being 'offered', which I've done as follows-
- Elements that have been implemented irrespective of Cycling City and none of which provide significant new infrastructure - Lawrence Hill overbridge, River Street (reinstates what was there before - see pic above), Mead's Reach Bridge (simply replaces Valentine's bridge).
- Elements of little if any benefit to cyclists - Prince Street Bridge, Dovercourt road to Bonnington Walk .
- Elements that already exist, to be 'upgraded' but with little benefit to cyclists - Hartcliffe Way, Long Ashton Road, Cumberland Basin Road, Speedwell link, St Georges Park link, St Matthias Park (Cabot Circus).
- Elements of existing cycle route to be upgraded with significant benefits to cyclists - Ashley Vale Allotments
- Elements of new cycle route but of limited benefit to cyclists - Connect2 Ashton Court, Stapleton Road, Hengrove Park links.
- Elements of new cycle route potentially with significant benefits - Muller Road to Dovercourt Road.
Hartcliffe Way - new infrastructure?