Monday, January 28, 2008

Cycling needs a lot more investment - this pot is very small in comparison to other transport spending

We certainly need a lot more investment in cycling - a lot more than is in this particular pot ('City chance to share in £140m bike boost', Bristol Evening Post, 28 Jan 08) if we are to have genuinely sustainable travel. The possibility of being able to share in £140 million over three yrs with others in the South West is very small relative to spending on cars, lorries and roads. At the moment however the best way to promote cycling would be for all the local council reps involved in the West of England Partnership plans to turn the Bristol to Bath cyclepath (the most popular cyclepath in the country, with 2.4 million journeys per yr) into a bus route, to come to their senses and put the bus route on the roads instead. Putting the bus route on the roads would displace cars, which are far less green, rather than bikes, which are far more green than buses.

See the vigorous reaction to the plans from Bristol East Green Party, Sustrans and the Bristol Cycling Campaign - all raise excellent and extremely challenging questions. Just consider these points from Sustrans for starters:

1. Has there been an evaluation of alternative on-road options to the current proposed route to Emersons Green? If so did this take into account net carbon benefits, economic cost benefit ratios, health impacts, impact on congestion and impacts on air pollution?

2. Why has the option of running the bus route along the A432 identified just a couple of years ago in the Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study been discarded?

3. Has there been an evaluation of the loss of the very high levels of walking and cycling on the route, taking into account the already existing net carbon, health, congestion and air pollution benefits and how does this impact on the economic cost benefit ratio?

4. Have you modelled the benefits in terms of reduced car use if you invested the funding proposed for the BRT in improved walking and cycling infrastructure Bristol-wide, onroad provision of buses, and other smarter choices which, in combination, may bring about greater benefits. Attached, by way of example, is a proposal showing just how a small amount of the money currently proposed for the BRT wisely invested in improvements to the Bristol and Bath Path would significantly improve access for local people to the benefit of their health and our environment.

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