Months after it was trailed on Bristol Indymedia; a full week after it was plastered EXCLUSIVELY all over the front page of The Evening Cancer; ten days after Helen Holland and her transport boss Mark Bradshaw invited us to their council chamber to hear about their future plans for the city but forgot to mention it and finally a timid little press release hidden away in the council’s archive is quietly released.
“Cyclists, pedestrians and passengers can co-exist on shared path,” it optimistically announces before telling us what we already knew: “New high quality, low emission vehicles could run on a dedicated guideway alongside the [Bristol to Bath] cycle track, which would itself be widened and improved as part of the scheme.”
At last the the Labour administration is forced into revealing its plan – so far shrouded in secrecy – to redevelop one of the city’s outstanding features, the Bristol and Bath Cycle Path – the most popular and used cycle route in the UK.
Labour’s latest transport wonk, Mark Bradshaw, is then wheeled out to calmly assure us he understands the concerns expressed.
He says: “We will continue to work with cyclists, environmental and other partners in preparing more detailed proposals for how the cycle path can be enhanced and co-exist with the rapid transit link.”
Which is not very reassuring at all when you consider “a cycle path coexisting with a rapid transit link” is commonly known as “a road”.
Bradshaw goes on: “There are other examples of where this has been achieved and we have enough expertise in our city to make this a reality.”
Bradshaw is perfectly correct when he says that there are other “examples of where this has been achieved”. And Bristolian Neil Roberts, in a priceless piece of pre-buttal, even wrote to the Cancer earlier this week to tell us all about it:
Guided bus routes have been tried elsewhere but not always with much success. In the Gatwick area, the Fastway BRT route promised to answer the area’s transport problems. Farce-way, as it is now known locally, cost taxpayers £40 million – approximately £2.6 million per mile – and was completed late and £9 million over budget.
In its first year there were 270 accidents involving Fastway buses – blamed by drivers on impossible timetables. To complete the farce, figures show that the scheme has not even increased use of public transport. Its buses carry on average between one and eight passengers each.
The proposals for Bristol need very serious consideration before we allow Bristol City Council and First to rip up a treasured and envied community resource.
Bristol Cycling Campaign has called a council of war in the upstairs room at The Cornubia on Temple Street at 7.30pm on 5 February 2008.
It’s looking like it might be fun.