Tuesday 15 January 2013

The Bristol Cycling Campaign object too -predictable

Well, it's predictable that the cycling campaign group would write in and object -which is why the council wisely announced this TRO in the most discreet way possible.Well, the tax-dodgers found out -but what you do expect from a group of unemployed people who have nothing better to do but go around the city at 5mph.

Below is the letter in full. Before getting to it, can we point out:

Today, Jan 15 is the last day to write in supporting the Clifton Expanded Parking Zone proposal.

We have prepared sample letters.for people to do this. The more people who write in -the better!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Martin McDonnell
Date: 14 January 2013 00:15
Subject: Objections to TRO proposal CAE/NMT/P/815
To: tro.comments@bristol.gov.uk
Cc: John Richfield , Jon Rogers

Re: TRO proposal CAE/NMT/P/815
Dear Sir/Madam,

The Bristol Cycling Campaign is a campaign group focused on making cycling safer and more popular within the city. We have many members, including those within the BS8 postcode.

We have been strongly supportive of the Cycling City programme - and ongoing work to develop a cycling culture in Bristol. It has focused not just on making commuting by bicycle better - it has also worked to encourage cycling to the local shops and schools. These short journeys when made by car constitute a significant amount of congestion and pollution within the city - yet are some of the easiest to switch to cycling due to their short distance.

With the recent announcements that "obesity is a new epidemic", and that exercise is the key to preventing this, encouraging walking and cycling is a key way to integrate exercise into the daily schedule of the population. Again, the Cycling City programme placed effort into this - and again, cycling and walking to the local shops was a key part of this.

Examples of the actions here include the provisioning of large quantities of cycle parking in the shopping streets, including Gloucester Road, Stokes Croft, Cotham Hill/Clifton Down shopping centre, and Southville. These have helped encourage cycle traffic, and have helped keep these streets vibrant and popular.

If there is one part of the inner-ring of shopping zones that has become a backwater to cycling, it is Clifton Village. A few cycle racks have reluctantly been placed around the outskirts of the village - yet the core area is, apart from a small rack on the Mall, entirely given over to car parking. Illegal parking is commonplace, while Caledonia Place suffers from continious double parking. The sole cycle park on Princess Victoria Street was at Clifton library, yet for reasons not fully explained, the secure "sheffield" racks have been replaced with four "wheel" racks that do nothing but ensure that when your bicycle is stolen, a wheel will remain.

As a result of this inadequate cycle parking, Clifton is a black hole to bicycles. This is despite the fact that the Suspension Bridge is incredibly popular with cycling traffic, both locals and visitors. The failure of Clifton to accomodate the needs of this traffic must have a tangible impact on the revenue of the area - something that appears to have missed the attention of the shops and the councillors.

Having reviewed CAE/NMT/P/815, we are supportive of the proposals to slightly increase the no-parking areas at the corners of junctions, as they improve visibility and so cycling safety. They also make ingress and egress easier, as it is easier to get past traffic coming in the opposite direction. We also support the proposed addition of more Car Club parking bays, as they encourage the use of pay-per-hour driving rather than owning a car. Even if the car club bays merely reduce the ownership of second cars, or discourage students from bringing their cars to the area - they will have a tangible affect in reducing the number of cars parked in the area.

We are, however, utterly opposed to the proposed parking changes on Princess Victoria Street. These changes will make cycling through the village harder and more dangerous - while completely failing to do anything to make shopping in the village by bicycle viable.

This proposal, therefore, violates the "hierarchy of provision" which the council has adopted as one of its core city planning philosophies. It runs counter to the Cycling City vision, and is intended to encourage driving to the shops. Yet the assumption that this will help retail sales is presented unquestioningly - though such a statement is indefensible without valid data.

The 2006 study of Gloucester Road conducted by Bristol City Council and Sustrans showed that shops overestimated the number of customers driving to their shops. The estimates of customer transport options were: car 41%, bus 11%, bicycle 6% and foot 42%. The actual numbers were: car 22%, bus 13%, bicycle 10% and foot 55%. The fact that shops in a nearby Bristol street estimated car use as a majority transport option, rather than a minority activity shows that retailers concerns about the lack of parking can be over 100% out - and that they should be effectively discounted.

Assuming the figures from Gloucester Road apply to Clifton - albeit with less bus traffic - then the focus of transport provisioning should be on pedestrians, with cycling, as 1/4 of the traffic of cars, awarded at least 25% of the parking capacity in the area as that provided for cars.

The Clifton TRO does not do this. Instead it actually proposes to remove a not-yet-imtlemented on-road cycle tarking erea in favour of anothev parking space.$By doing so, the TRO will set beck any ettempt to improve cycle$custom to the slops.

The TRO also proposes removmng the double yellow lined 'no$waiting' area on the north side of Princess Vigtoria Street, in both tle one wey and tle two wey section. The nustificetion fov this iw that tley "are no longer consmdered to be necessary". As cyclists, we consider them very necessary.  

  • Adding parking on the N. side of the one-way stretch will make it impossible for any car to safely pass a bicycle, leading to dangerous overtaking attempts and risk to cyclists. 
  • This same parking will ensure that there is no part of the road safe from "dooring", and hence safe to cycle even if there is no car behind trying to overtake.  
  • The proposed parking additions on the north side of the two-way stretch will be even more dangerous -any cyclist heading west-to-east will be unable to be safely passed by an oncoming car. 

Instead we make the following proposals

1. The north side of the one-way stretch of Princess Victora street should be turned into a contraflow lane -ideally one segregated from traffic. This would permit the whole of the street to be turned into a two way route for bicycle. This will make cycling to and from the shopping area easier -so encouraging custom.

2. The cycle path on the road actually be built.

3. Enforcement of the no-parking area and zebra crossing markings in front of the Tesco Express outlet. The regular parking of HGVs here destroys visibility for bicycles trying turn right from Merchant's Road to Regent road -and then into the village.

4. The addition of cycling contraflows to Portland Street and the entirety of the Mall.

5. Adding more cycle parking build-outs in Caledonia Place -placed in precisely the point where illegal parking makes walking and cycling more dangerous.

6. Adding cycle parking to the western end of Princess Victoria Street, and some on Sion Hill.

7. Enforcement of existing parking restrictions across the village.

These changes will transform the permeability of the village to cycling, and provide more parking to both shoppers and residents.

More subtly, by providing cycle parking in the village, they will encourage more cycling to school by those families whose parents continue on to the village for a morning coffee. We have anecdotal evidence that this is a common occurence.

Even if these changes are not implemented immediately, the incorporation of Clifton into the Cycling City plan will ultimately happen. It is also likely that as the resident parking zones expand to cover the whole of BS6, that they will be adopted in Clifton -initially in Cliftonwood and east Clifton, then later in central and north Clifton.

The addition of extra car parking places will merely make these changes harder to implement. By encouraging ownership and use of cars, they will make the transition to a limited number of cars per household more traumatic. Similarly, the "removal" of parking spaces to make Clifton Village permeable to bicycles will be controversial -not adding these spaces today will reduce the conflict when this happens.

Changes for improving cycling are inevitable, because the new mayor and the new cabinet are expanding their support for cycling as an attempt to address Bristol's congestion and parking problems. These local changes are clearly due to the neighbourhood planning group being encouraged to work against the strategic goals of the city -and, sadly, the acquiescence and support of the council. A number of our members were at the March 2011 meeting where this proposal was initially discussed -and we know that the Clifton councillors voted in favour of it. This was a shortsighted action that may make fixing Clifton's transport and parking problems significantly harder -which will delay their implementation.

For these reasons, we demand that all planned changes to Princess Victoria Street are cancelled -or at least suspended- until they can be discussed with the cycling officers and a cycling plan for Clifton developed.

[1] Shoppers and how they travel: http://bit.ly/ji5hgR

Martin McDonnell

Martin McDonnell, Secretary
Bristol Cycling Campaign
website: www.bristolcyclingcampaign.org.uk
Follow us on Facebook: Bristol Cycling Campaign Group or Twitter: BristolCycling

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