21 March 2018 / West of England Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee

My talk to the WECA Overview and Scrutiny Committee to be presented at the Guildhall, tomorrow, the 21st of March at 10:30am.

Just for reference this is how the Joint Spatial Transport Plan intended to allocate funding:


Think about it. 61% of all car commuters in Bath and Bristol live within a 20 minute easy electric bike ride of work yet only 5% of the planned budget is to be spent on walking AND cycling.

Enjoy 😉


I am speaking on behalf of Cycle Bath and Bristol Cycling Campaign both of which actively campaign for better cycling infrastructure. As a software engineer and data scientist I have been able to leverage my skills to analyse the Census 2011 WU03EW “Location of usual residence and place of work by method of travel to work” data set. I can tell you that of the 153,623(125,908+27,715) Bristol and Bath car commuters, 18.9% [28,989 (24,396+4,593)] live within a 20 minute walk of work, 42.1% [64,678(56,277+8,401)] live within a 20 minute cycle of work, and 61.7% [94,800(83072+11728)] live within a 20 minute electric bike ride of work.

I have already had a meeting last year with Mayor Tim Bowles to emphasise these statistics, highlighting the work Transport For London are doing around Strategic Cycling Analysis (http://content.tfl.gov.uk/strategic-cycling-analysis.pdf) as well as presenting the www.pct.bike and www.cyipt.bike tools, both of which have been funded by the DfT.

Transport For London recently stated that cycle lanes move 5 times as many people per square metre as car lanes. A single bi-directional protected cycle lane is the equivalent of installing a 5 lane motorway through a city. The investment in gold standard cycle infrastructure in the City of London has resulted in the majority of traffic on the roads now being people cycling.

On top of this we have estimates that congestion is costing Bath and Bristol businesses £55 million per year and costing individuals residents upwards of £1,500 per year in time and costs. We’re talking congestion costs reaching almost £300 million per year across Bath and Bristol, and god knows what costs the NHS are incurring due to air pollution and obesity.

Yet WECA transport policy seems to be simply about junction 18A of the M4, buses, and trains. There is no recognition that walking and cycling play any role in tackling congestion. Unlike other regional mayors, there is no dedicated cycling commissioner. Funding for cycling has been bundled with walking, and combined, is only 5% of the budget, or a paltry £400m. The Greater Manchester Mayor has committed to invest £1.5 BILLION in cycling alone. If WECA did the same per head of population it would be £500M on cycling alone.

Cycling as a form of transport offers significant benefits to tackling congestion and improving public health. The Mayor can tackle congestion cheaply by simply identifying all Key Road Network routes where significant numbers are travelling to work by car that could travel to work by bicycle in under 20 minutes and prioritise the building of good separate protected space for walking, cycling, and driving along these routes over the provision of on-street parking.

When will WECA get serious about tackling congestion and improving the health of the population? Where is WECA’s cycling vision? Where is our Cycling Commissioner? Where is our Chris Boardman? Where is the commitment from WECA to deliver healthy streets? Why does the mayor seem obsessed with cars, buses and trains, when 60% of workers live within an easy electric bike ride of work? And while we’re at it, where’s the identification of key cycle routes to schools with upwards of 30% of rush hour traffic being the school run? Why is WECA’s transport policies not answerable to Public Health? Why is there nobody from the NHS invited to be involved in defining transport policy?

We are almost one year into Mayor Tim Bowles term in office and cycling simply does not seem to register on his radar as a solution for tackling congestion and improving the health of the population. I can only compare his progress to that of other Mayors and currently it feels glacial and very timid when looking at what other Mayors are achieving.


Your chance to voice your opinion.

If you have an interest in transport, this might be very good to attend.


Buses, the environmental impact of new build developments and clean and affordable energy.

These are some of the main topics coming up for discussions when The West of England Combined Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets at the Bath Guildhall  on Wednesday, March 21, at 10.30am.

guildhall The Bath Guildhall

Members will hear about, and contribute to, plans for a for clean and affordable energy system. WECA received £50,000 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in March 2017 to develop this work across the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership area (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and North Somerset and South Gloucestershire).

Over 70 people from local organisations attended a workshop in Keynsham in February, organised by Centre for Sustainable Energy on behalf of the LEP, to start discussing priority areas, including low and zero carbon electricity; decarbonisation of heat; electric vehicles and ensuring new build…

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On when Boardman’s team met Bury Council

I suspect that Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plans that some councils are producing are not going to this level of community engagement. I *really* like the way that Brian Deegan threw out any preconceived ideas of defining the new network based on the existing leisure routes. Something Bath & North East Somerset can definitely learn from. BaNES are currently working with Bristol to develop LCWIPs. There has been no community engagement as yet. This is a bit worrying. Good to see Greater Manchester tackling this correctly when councils are prepared to engage.

Banging on about bikes


In early February I received an intriguing e-mail from the officer responsible for cycling at Bury Council. Headed “GM Walking and cycling network planning – Bury inception meeting”, the message read:

“Might you be available for a meeting at 10 on the 27th? It’s not a Forum or open meeting but we want one or two local cyclists who know the Borough fairly well to be involved.”

Reading further down the thread of what was in fact a forwarded e-mail, it turned out that my name had been suggested by a fellow cycling/sustainable travel advocate and Bury resident, and that the meeting was with representatives of Chris Boardman, the newly appointed Walking and Cycling Commissioner for Greater Manchester. A meeting between Bury Council and Boardman’s people? With Bury Council reaching out to cyclists at the planning and inception stage? What a tantalising prospect!

28168626_10213678687234093_8802906461876553305_n Heading off to the…

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Cycle Ambition Failure 3

There’s a theory that sequels get worse and the third series of Cycle Ambition Fund feels like the end of the line. CAF1 was good(ish), giving councils a heads-up and allowing them to put together proposals. CAF2 (£114M) was sprung on councils so quickly, and only thanks to our local Cllr Nigel Roberts working with Cycle Bath, were we prepared enough to put in a £3.8M bid. However lots of councils didn’t and £21M of the allocated money was returned to the DfT.

CAF3, just announced, has an even shorter bid window, and with only a paltry pot of £6.5M to be shared across 8 cities, it will simply be hoovered up in council officer time and might result in a bit of paint.

There are only two things that should be done with this money, and two things only.

We need shovel ready proposals

Delivery of a detailed costed designs to create a city wide cycle network in consultation with the public and use of TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis (pdf) methodology.

Use of  https://www.cyipt.bike/ & http://pct.bike/ should definitely be part of the process. CyIPT should also be funded and supported fully by the DfT. It will save councils so much money and time during the proposal development process.

Mini-Holland Schemes

Given the success of the Walthamstow Mini-Holland Scheme, which boils down to 14 road closures using modal filters, cities should only be allowed to bid IF they are going to use Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (or even regular TROs), planters, and painted concrete blocks to close roads to through traffic and create a quiet street network connecting communities to schools, shops, and places of employment.


For £200k you could buy one ETRO and 50 planters, and a bunch of dead end signs and create 10-20 through traffic free roads. You could have a serious impact on rat running in these 8 cities for very little money.

Share equally and dictate

I would split the money evenly between cities and require them to deliver a fully costed LCWIP defined cycle network and a “mini-holland” scheme using ETROs and planters to close rat runs to cars and create a quiet street network.

We need money and TIME

Council’s need money and time to be able to develop schemes to the point where they are shovel ready. CAF3 could have been an admission that there isn’t the money, but to enable those cities to deliver a vision of what cycling could be if they had the money.

THREE weeks is ridiculous

This is a real failure of Jesse Norman MP (our cycling minister) not to recognise how he is failing to deliver on his brief. He could have been a lot cleverer here and made a real difference down the line.

A Waste of Space

As Easy As Riding A Bike

In London yesterday evening, I approached Parliament Square along the cycleway at Great George Street.

Good job TfL.

In front of me was perhaps the classic stereotypical scene shared by taxi drivers, and other people hostile to new cycling infrastructure in London (and other British towns and cities). A large expanse of empty tarmac loomed in front of me, contrasting starkly with the clogged road on the right. You might say the cycleway is ‘causing’ congestion and pollution, if you were so inclined.

In the distance – on the ’empty’ tarmac – two cyclists (maybe three? who cares, really) are waiting at a red signal. On the right, frustrated drivers are needlessly spewing out fumes, and doubtless fuming themselves, at the waste of space on their left. Valuable space that – if it were used properly for important motor traffic, not for some silly hobby – would have sped them to…

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Let’s talk Bath transport!

Cycle Bath will be there! So should you.


Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse will be in Larkhall in February to attending an open meeting where you can have your say about transport in Bath.

It’s being organised by Transition Larkhall on March 3rd at the New Oriel Hall, in Larkhall,  from 9.30 am to 2pm.
Poster for TL Travel Meeting
Joanna Wright tells Bath Newseum that the meeting is all about “thinking differently about travel in and around Bath. We want peoples’ ideas about transport in Bath.

Wera Hobhouse MP – and other political and campaign groups – will be present to
join the discussion about the future of travel in and around the city.

A professional facilitator will lead the discussion, focused on the idea of
thinking differently about travel in and around Bath.
We’ll be asking who is moving around and why are they moving that way. How do you travel, and how would you like to travel, around Bath? Let’s help create…

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There are lies, damned lies, and then there are standards.

There are councils and organisations around the country that are decades ahead of where some councils are and we must be able to recognise our own failings and take on board that others have done it better. They have learnt from their mistakes. They DO get it.
The following four documents are key, and councillors should be requiring these documents to be used by Highways, Planning, and Development Control as well as forming key cornerstones in ANY development.

Public Highways IAN 195

Available here www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/ha/standards/ians/pdfs/ian195.pdf 

Provides minimum requirements for the Strategic Road Network, but was authored by Phil Jones specifically to be usable by ANY council/authority as it applies to ALL road types. Key takeaways from this document are:

  • 1.2m x 2.8m long mobility bike dimensions for designing access to cycle infrastructure
  • Minimum requirements for cycle infrastructure based on road speed and volume

Get this in front of your highways team. It is part of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges which Highways will use on an ad-hoc basis. There is NO reason this cannot be part of the set of standards that their engineers use.

Wheels For Wellbeing Guide to Inclusive Cycling

Available here wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/v2-Nov-2017.pdf

Simply for one simple reason. Thinking beyond the bicycle. One of the key reasons Cycle Bath recently changed its logo. People need to understand you are designing for the hand cyclist, for the wheelchairs, for wheelchairs ON trikes.

Get this in front of your councillors and your Highways Safety Officers, particularly those that love putting in stepped gates and 5 bollard formations because we “need to slow down speeding cyclists”. Get them thinking BEYOND the bicycle. So much of UK cycle infrastructure access is limited by Health and Safety and the fear of kids being killed by speeding cyclists, yet every junction of a road has a simple corner pavement ledge and we don’t have kids randomly running into roads at junctions constantly.

Highways Health and Safety create immense problems for people with accessibility issues. They design in exclusion in the name of safety.

Oxfordshire’s Development Control Walking and Cycling Standards

This one is a big one. Developers design and build developments. The roads in those developments MUST be adopted by the council. The council has a Development Control Team that signs off those roads. They use standards from the 1990s where the car is the primary concern.

Oxfordshire council realised that developers were forced to design car centric developments but wanted Walking and Cycling centric developments. They realised they had to update the standards that the Development Control Team were using BEFORE developers would design and build walking and cycling prioritised developments.

Get these in front of your councillors and insist that they take the Oxfordshire standards and rebrand/adopt them. These are decades ahead of other councils. If you do one thing, recognise that the one person in the council that is the “Development Control Team” is absolutely wrecking your housing developments keeping them grounded in a car centric 1990s air pollution creating nightmare.

 Your council’s road adoption standards are fundamentally defining the fabric of your environment and not a single councillor is aware the power this one person has. Get those adoption standards changed. Get them changed NOW.

Inclusive branding…

The way the council sometimes deals with Cycle Bath is to treat us like we’re just a bunch of people on two wheels with a fetish for lycra and riding fast on pavements. However the fight is about inclusive cycling.

Social Model of Disability

It is fully about tackling the social model of disability. Scope has a very good definition.

The social model of disability says that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives.

Disabled people developed the social model of disability because the traditional medical model did not explain their personal experience of disability or help to develop more inclusive ways of living.

An impairment is defined as long-term limitation of a person’s physical, mental or sensory function.

Image is everything

To this end I’ve been rethinking the Cycle Bath branding and whether it truly reflects society.

Cycle Bath Proposed Logo

Bikes left to right:

  1. Wheelchair bike
  2. Dutch style bike with a child seat
  3. Child bicycle
  4. Cargo bike
  5. Wheelchair with eBike conversion kit
  6. Cargo trike
  7. Road bike
  8. City bike with child trailer
  9. Recumbent Trike

This is inspired by the work done by Highways England and their inclusive mobility vehicle design standard 1.2m wide x 2.8m wide vehicle they defined in IAN 195


Cycle Bath, at its core, is trying to tackle the social model of disability. Huge numbers of people want to cycle but feel our road space does not enable them to cycle. The roads are simply too dangerous. The bollards are set too close together. The council, and particularly councillors, simply have the wrong view of who cyclists are.


This has to change.

Give Feedback

Feedback is very welcome. The branding is being discussed in detail on facebook or leave a comment here.

PS It’s very hard to draw people 😀

[Edit] Latest one with a hand cycle leading the charge.

Cycle Bath Proposed Logo (25)


Working, Living, Cycling, and campaigning for better cycle infrastructure in Bath, UK