National report shows that cycling in Greater Bristol up 40%

Issue date: 26 July 2017


Cycling on campus

Findings from a national report to determine if the City and Towns programme has improved uptake of cycling shows an increase of 40% in journeys made by bike in the Greater Bristol area.

Researchers from the University of the West of England contributed to a national report led by Sustrans and in partnership with the Transport for Quality of Life and Cavill Associates.

Professor John Parkin from the Centre for Transport and Society said, “This work has found that even modest investment in cycling infrastructure and promotion over short periods of time has the effect of increasing cycling.

“It is interesting to note that places with higher levels of cycling had higher increases in cycling uptake. But it is encouraging for the whole country, though, that the initial levels seen in Greater Bristol are a sufficient basis for substantial growth. The proportion of adults in Bristol who sometimes cycled for longer trips (over 30 minutes) may have increased from about 13% at the start of the programme to about 20%.”

Greater Bristol was awarded Cycling City status in June 2008. Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council worked in partnership to deliver a series of major infrastructure initiatives and smarter choice measures through the 'Greater Bristol Cycling City' programme. A 20 mph speed limit was also piloted in two parts of the city.

Infrastructure improvements in the area have focused on the construction of 36 new or improved routes (both on-road and traffic-free). The main focus of the programme was on radial routes and arterial routes out of the city centre.

Three major parts of the programme were the creation of Concorde Way linking Cribbs Causeway and Cabot Circus, improvements to the Bristol and Bath Railway Path and the introduction of contraflow lanes for cyclists in central Bristol. Between July 2008 and March 2010, 8,709 cycle parking spaces were added in educational facilities, workplaces and shopping centres in the Greater Bristol area. Route signing has also been enhanced to raise awareness, particularly of arterial routes into the city centre.

Smarter measures involved engaging 62 of the city's employers, who together employ 26% of the Greater Bristol workforce. Council staff built relationships with 12 major employers with the aim of increasing cycling levels and they offered support and services including Dr Bike maintenance sessions and led rides.

Neighbourhood engagement including Community Travel Planning and Personalised Travel Planning was rolled out to 2,829 households in the Bishopston, Redland and Horfield areas. The approach was then changed to a roadshow format which extended the project's reach to events and businesses as well as households leading to engagement with over 20,000 people.

Loan bikes, Dr Bike sessions and adult cycle training were all used to engage participants. Children and young people were encouraged to cycle through Bikeability training (16,920 children were trained between 2008 and 2011). 'Bike It' projects were delivered by four officers over the programme period, with additional funding provided by the Bristol Primary Care Trust.

As of September 2010, 55 schools were engaged in Bike It. New BMX tracks and cycling clubs provided further opportunities for young people to engage with the programme. Work has also taken place at stations. Parking at the two main city stations, and in the 10 suburban train stations has sought to facilitate better cycle-train integration. Promotional literature has been used to highlight the leisure/family routes within the Greater Bristol area.

The aim of the Cycling Cities and Towns programme was to explore the relationship between investment in cycling as part of a whole-town strategy, and the number of cyclists and frequency of cycling trips. The programme built on earlier experience in six Cycling Demonstration Towns which began receiving funding in 2005, and these original six towns received follow funding along with 11 new towns and the one city of Bristol Results from the two programmes are very encouraging. Cycling trips increased across both programmes overall, and also individually in all 18 towns and cities.

From automatic count data, there was an overall 29% increase in the six Cycling Demonstration Towns (CDT) in five and a half years, ranging from 6% to 59%; and an overall increase of 24% in the 12 Cycling City and Towns (CCT) over three years, ranging from 9% to 62% across towns.

The overall annual rate of growth for the CDT programme was 5.3% and for the CCT programme 8.0%, comparable to rates of growth seen in international cities which have demonstrated sustained long-term commitment to cycling.

Findings for Bristol

National report summary

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