West of England Joint Transport Study: Transport Vision Response from CycleBath

The vision is considered naive.

There are no target modal-split values in the vision. The poster child for sustainable cities is Freiburg in Germany. A city of around 150km2 vs Bristol’s 110km2.

Looking at the modal-split in Freiburg.

In 1982:

  • 35% of people walked,
  • 15% cycled,
  • 11% used public transport (trains, buses, trams),
  • 9% were car sharing
  • 29% in single occupancy vehicles.

By 1999, 17 years later:

  • 23% walked (-13%),
  • 27% cycled (+12%),
  • 18% were using public transport (+7%),
  • 6% car shared (-3%),
  • 26% single occupancy vehicles (-3%)

The ambition by 2020 is:

  • 24% walking (+1%),
  • 27% cycling (0%),
  • 20% public transport (2%),
  • 5% car sharing (-1%)
  • 24% single occupancy vehicles (-2%)

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Freiburg is a big city which has had phenomenal success and has achieved this through the building of 400km of segregated cycle tracks but think getting more than 27% of the population cycling is not possible.

So when you look at the West of England transport vision fails to answer two simple questions.

  1. What is the current modal-split by city/region?
  2. What is the target modal-split by city/region?

Once you have the answer to these two questions, you can actually begin to have a vision. At the moment the vision just feels like civil servants and politicians wanting to play with very big expensive train sets. It is vague and appears to have been deliberately written this way to allow for future back tracking.

Walking and cycling has been lumped into one budget. This type of lumping in creates situations where councils misuse money intended to develop good segregated cycling connections between communities and schools/centres of employment and allocate it to ‘public realm improvement schemes’. Bath’s Seven Dials scheme being a classic example of wasting cycling ambition fund money.

Cycling needs its own budget and one that has specific controls/standards/audits around the bid processes to ensure the delivery of high quality segregated infrastructure.

The World Health Organisation has recommended that 20% of any transport budget is allocated to the development of cycle networks as these support the 0-8km travel range which covers the majority of most people commuting to school/work. Given the £7.5 Billion budget, the vision should be allocating £1.5 Billion to cycling ALONE not £0.4 Billion to cycling AND walking.

An example to consider is London which has just allocated £900 Million to cycling. The cycle superhighway has enabled Embankment to increase road capacity by 5% by reducing the space allocated to motorised vehicles.

The vision also ignores the need for legislature to achieve better road capacity. Transport For London have been able to increase road ‘people’ capacity, note the lack of using the term traffic flow, as they ‘own’ the major corridors and can do what they want with them.

The trunk roads within our cities are at the whim of the councils. In many instances on-road parking is a higher priority for local politicians than the development of a balanced modal-split transport network. In other words, you can have segregated cycle tracks but only if it does not impact the residents on-street parking on major A roads. This approach must be changed.

The vision also needs to clearly state that transport is a public health crisis that, through deliberate design over many decades, has encouraged the use of the car as “the” premier form of transport while degrading public transport. This article discusses this in detail. Highways and planning must take responsibility for delivering healthy environments. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/15/sedentary-lifestyles-social-care-crisis-exercise-ill-health-old-age

Sedentary lifestyles and morbidity can be countered through delivery of good active travel options and discouraging the use of the private car.

The vision document fails to deal with any connection to Radstock. It very much discards rural North East Somerset. This seems short-sighted.

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Particularly within Bath the maps are way-off with the key cycle network routes. See the attached Bath Cycle Network Map. The light rapid transit system appears to be using the Bristol To Bath cycle path while running parallel to the current rail network. Why not increase the number of trains? The authors have forgotten the 2007 protests in Bristol when the BRT was proposed to run along the cycle path. The authors of the vision also seem to have forgotten that the path has been widened in parts due to the immense number of people using it.

It is estimated that 20-25% of rush hour traffic is the school run. The school run must be tackled and eradicated. Many councils are beginning to create school drop-off exclusion zones, but more importantly, ways need to be found to offer free public transport to all school children. Some schools in Oxford have 80% of pupils cycling to school, not through training and education, but because the provided infrastructure enables traffic free commuting from their communities to the school. Travel independence is key for school children.

The JTS mentions education, by which we are assuming Bikeability training. However cycling rates in 10+ children are phenomenally low. No matter how well you train kids, they will not share the road with HGVs and will be driven to school.

We stress again the modal-split that Freiburg will achieve in 2020:

  • 24% walking
  • 27% cycling,
  • 20% public transport,
  • 5% car sharing
  • 24% single occupancy vehicles.

The majority of travel within the city of Freiburg is by bicycle, the same can be said for Copenhagen, and even some parts of London.

It is considered vital that the JTS provides target modal-splits by region/city and then actively pursues those targets through the correct allocation of budgets to either encourage or discourage forms of transport. These can be derived from the 2011 census data and re-evaluated using the 2021 census data.

More importantly, the JTS MUST split cycling out from walking. It is not acceptable to have these two different forms of transport that do not mix well together in one pot of money.

Adam Reynolds

CycleBath Chair

 

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