Responses from candidates to our Bristol Mayor cycling manifesto

We’ve challenged the main candidates for Bristol Mayor to commit to measures that will double cycling rates in Bristol by 2024. Below we list the responses we’ve had from the candidates to the five challenges in our cycling manifesto for the Bristol Mayor (and here for WECA Mayor cycling manifesto).

  1. Start implementing the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), incorporating the improvements suggested by the Campaign, with three key strategic routes completed by 2024
  2. Implement a minimum of six Liveable Neighbourhoods
  3. Extend the School Streets programme to all schools and suitable road
  4. Install 1,000 bike hangars across the city, in addition to secure cycling lockers or hubs at Park and Ride locations, and a secure bike-parking hub at Temple Meads Station
  5. Complete the City Centre cycling network to the highest standards of the current guidance (LTN 1/20)

Alistair Watson – Conservative

 1. LCWIP: I would love to implement the LCWIP, it will depend on funding and WECA’s role in this will be key. It would be great to have three strategic routes by 2024, it is important that we design schemes so they are ready for when the funding comes through.
2. Liveable Neighbourhoods: I am in favour of the concept but it needs proper consultation and to do this we need investment in the highways team. I couldn’t commit at this stage to a number.
3. School Streets: I would like to see progress on School Streets. I would evaluate the success of the pilots as soon as possible and roll out more. 
4. Bike Hangars: Yes I would like to increase the number of bike hangars, we need to create a more streamlined process and make it easier to remove parking spaces for cycle parking. To do this we need to increase the number of staff in the Highways team that can action these changes.
5. Cycling network: Certainly I would like to see the city centre network completed, there are a number of missing links

Caroline Gooch – Liberal Democrats

1. LCWIP: Yes
2. Liveable Neighbourhoods: Yes
3. School Streets: Yes
4. Bike Hangars: Yes subject to sorting out details, locations and funding
5. Cycling Network: Yes

Marvin Rees – Labour Party

1. LCWIP:  A key part of recovery from pandemic will be supporting local highstreets, and the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) places them at the heart of walking routes – making them more accessible and encouraging footfall.
Similarly we need to ensure that cycling routes are available to help people get to work and employment. The funds made available through the Covid Emergency Cycling funds enabled us to accelerate our plans to close Bristol Bridge to through traffic, as well as pedestrianise the old city. It also allowed for changes to road layouts.
We worked with WECA and neighbours to develop the plan, and we are committed to the principles and priorities in the plan. The next steps are securing funding and delivering on the routes and improvements.
2. Liveable Neighbourhoods: We’ve committed to implementing at least two Liveable Neighbourhoods as a way to improve street scene and importantly encourage people to take up cycling and walking, something RPZs have failed to do.
To be done correctly, with consultation, infrastructure, Sustainable Urban Drainage, improved street scene and trees, they can be expensive projects – but, we aim to use any funds surplus revenues generated through the Clean Air Zone proposals to commit to this.
Liveable neighbourhoods come with considerable controversy, so need to be done right, and with local communities consent and buy-in. Rushing to install “6” regardless of the experience of communities risks a push back, and therefore we have pledged to pilot two, and learn from the experience.
3. School Streets:  It’s great that you recognise the success of the school street programme so far. Wansdyke Primary School in Whitchurch and St Peter’s C of E Primary School in Bishopsworth were the first two schools to take part in the Bristol School Streets pilot scheme in February last year.
Our intention to expand the programme was impacted by Covid – schools we of course closed and we had to redirect resources to focus on the emergency measures. However, we are planning to continue the roll out and work with interested schools to adopt the measures. These have to come with other steps to encourage active travel to school, which not only help with congestion and air quality now, but give people good habits and confidence to cycle for the rest of their lives.
4. Bike Hangars:  We agree with this aim – we’d welcome the Bristol Cycling campaign coming forward with locations and sites that would be most useful and welcomed by residents.
We would have to find a budget to enable this, and we had hoped to provide additional cycle hangars as part of the Active Travel Fund programme in 2021/22 but the allocation we eventually received could not meet all our aspirations. We have been progressing a retendering exercise to allow us to procure hangars next financial year which will enable us to roll out more. We are waiting for the Government to announce Active travel funding from 2022 onwards. This could be the remainder of the £2bn announced in May last year but there is no clarity at this time.
We would tie in the delivery of Cycle Hangars with our programme of Liveable Neighbourhoods too. 
Network Rail have a mixed record on the issue of the bike lockers and storage, however, we are committed to working with them as we progress the plans for the eastern entrance of Temple Meads to make it more accessible for everyone, and an interchange for bikes, buses and pedestrians.
N.B I note that you have not costed your manifesto, and you might understand that these demands will press resources already stretched by a decade of austerity, but we share your ambition to make cycling more accessible with these measures.
5. Cycling Network:  Part of our bus deal proposals involve a city centre loop which will help to take bus traffic and congestion out of some of the areas mentioned, as well as infrastructure improvements. 
It is important to recognise that the city centre is a shared space, where we need to encourage footfall as part of our economic recovery, and ensure that those who use public transport, or need to use private cars, are still able to access services and our retails and cultural offer.
We would commit to exploring all these suggestions with you and residents and businesses, however we’d need to understand them in the round and not as individual projects.
For instance a bus gate on Cumberland road is included as part of our clean air plans. Conversely a bus gate on Park Street might displace traffic to Marlborough Street instead, which is our most challenging location for air pollution. The closure of Prince Street Bridge to cars would have significant implications now we have closed Bristol Bridge to through traffic and is therefore not something we currently support.

Sandy Hore-Ruthven – Green Party

1. LCWIP:  In principle, yes. The key here is that it’s going to have to be in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority, and we’ll have to draw down the money from them. I will absolutely work my damnedest to make this happen. 
2. Liveable Neighbourhoods:  Yes, Liveable Neighbourhoods are a key part of our strategy. But we need to bear in mind that this mayoral term is three years long due to Covid; I can’t promise stuff that I can’t deliver. Whether we can put in six, I would need to ask the council officers. We would aim to, but I just want to be practical.
3. School Streets:  Yes, this is absolutely something we would look to do and try to roll out as many School Streets as we can over the next three years. It’s really important we encourage children to ride to school.
4. Bike Hangars:  Yes, definitely the hubs at the Park and Rides and at Temple Meads. One of the key starting points for a cycle network in the city is the ability to cycle from the Park and Rides. I’m just going to hold off on committing to the 1,000 bike hangars: how many we can install given funding, I’ll need better guidance on over the three year period.”
5. Cycling Network: Completing the city centre cycling network is certainly something I’d do. Certainly the closure of Prince Street bridge: hardly any cars go through it yet they take up half the space. We’re looking at whether we would close Cumberland Road to everyone except buses and residents. On standards, it is important that we deliver to the highest standards and I’d like to work with cycling groups to make sure we do this.

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