At the beginning of the three year Cycling City project we were told there would be £22.8 million of funding of which £17.6 million would be spent on infrastructure (cycle routes and facilities). A year in and there isn't much to show for it, just 700 metres of upgraded path in St Werburghs and some new cycle racks and signs here and there.
Yet we were told to expect almost £3.5 million to have been spent on infrastructure by April of this year. As mere tax payers we are not party to information about the cost of such projects as the St Werburghs path upgrade, but I think we can safely say it falls a long way short of £3.5 million. Understandably it takes time to get these projects up and running, but even so people are beginning to wonder where the money is going.
Here's one possibility. This old stone bridge over the River Frome at Wickham Hill in Stapleton is being repaired, mainly it seems repointing the masonry. The bridge has been closed to general traffic for many years and is now only used by occasional walkers and cyclists, and a pipeline of some sort.
However the bridge is part of a route identified by Cycling City as requiring some 'new infrastructure' and one element of 'new infrastructure' appears from this leaflet to be located at or near this bridge. The text of the leaflet also refers to 'improvements' to bridges (but how do 'improvements' transmogrify into 'new infrastructure'? Oh yes, we've been there before). Just to confuse the issue (it wouldn't be Cycling City if we weren't confused) the marginally more detailed notes issued by Bristol City Council in March of this year refer to the need for the 'replacement' of this and another bridge.
If the bridge repairs are indeed Cycling City funded then one might ask if this is really the sort of thing that ought to be funded out of the that budget. It could be said that such bridge repairs are just part of the ongoing maintenance of our civic heritage and don't really count as 'new infrastructure' for cyclists. Still, they've got to find some way to spend the Cycling City money and in the continuing absence of any significant 'new infrastructure' perhaps this is as good a way as any.