Cyclepath: here come the sketches!

The new Bristol to Bath Cyclepath
How wide do they think the cycle path is?

A quick roundup of cycle path related shenanigans …

The meeting arranged for Tuesday 5 February 2008 at 7.30pm is at Easton Community Centre, not Easton Leisure Centre or The Cornubia.

The scale of opposition and anger to the plan to turn the Bristol and Bath Cycle Path into a bus route is now becoming clear. A petition set up to oppose the plan on the council’s website has gained over 5,000 signatures in under a week. A discussion forum on the BBC website is also demonstrating a similar level of opposition to the plans.

As does the rumour reaching the Blogger that one Bristol City Councillor has received over 800 emails opposing the plan. The recipient is likely to be Labour’s Mark Bradshaw, who is fronting the plan at present.

Anyone who has emailed Bradshaw may have to be patient though, as Bradshaw is known to get his local government officer assistant Roger Livingston to find out the political affiliations of any his correspondents before he sends them a reply.

Bradshaw also cropped up on the front cover of the Cancer today defending his plan. The newspaper already seems firmly on board, headlining the article ‘Welcome to the Future’ and giving the plan the thumbs-up in an editorial.

Tuesday night saw Bradshaw appear on BBC Points West. His tired line – that buses and cyclists can coexist on the path – is still broadly the same as the one in his press release last week.

However Bradshaw’s own project board who are responsible for developing the plan seem to disagree with him on this in their own minutes (pdf):

“It was a Sustrans policy to support the return of former railway corridors to public transport use as long as there was no negative impact in the amenity value for cyclists. It would be difficult to demonstrate this.”

Which hasn’t stopped Bradshaw trying to demonstrate exactly this anyway. Not least through the publication of some unrealistic sketches of a very wide cycle path indeed demonstrating bicycles and buses “coexisting” in his brave new world:

Brave New World

While Bradshaw and Labour take all the political hits on this at present, the Tories and Lib Dem are keeping very silent on the issue and so far haven’t responded to any emails and taken a public position.

This might be because their respective leaders, Bunter and the Pudding Basin, have been party to these plans all along and have nodded through tens of thousands of pounds worth of expenditure to work up a scheme that may well end up in the dustbin due to an entirely predictable public outcry.

Lib Dem boss Pudding Basin Comer is even a councillor for the Eastville Ward, which the cycle path passes through. So much for his local knowledge then.

The Greens meanwhile, who have been handed the issue on a plate, have not failed to take an opportunistic shot at this open goal. Having spent last weekend reading through the documents obtained by the Bristol Cycling Campaign through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the Greens have released a lengthy statement with some decent observations, which at least has saved the Blogger the effort of trawling through these interminable documents.

The Blogger’s eye was, however, caught by the minutes of a discussion the BRT Project Board (pdf) had about their communications strategy:

Richard Rawlinson (RR) raised the issue of awareness raising on BRT proposals. KH considered that this needed to be linked with GBBN and other initiatives to provide a more strategic approach. Peter Bartlett (PB) suggested use of a common overview context setting text across scheme communications activities. DO considered that more proactive communication strategy would assist with stakeholder support (eg Business West) as schemes develop.

So what the hell does that all mean? Well in practice “use of a common overview context setting text across scheme communications activities” seems to translate as “we’ll keep our heads down and force the public to use FoI legislation to find out what’s going on”.

More coming soon as it happens …

This entry was posted in Bristol, Conservatives, Developments, Environment, Green Party, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Transport, WESP and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Cyclepath: here come the sketches!

  1. James Barlow says:

    I wonder if there’s some sort of provable relationship between the use of pastel colours in a proposal document and the underlying madness of the scheme.

  2. Jozer says:

    Almost certainly.

  3. Chris Hutt says:

    The drawings demonstrate quite conclusively the lack of competence and/or honesty on the part of West of England Parasites, the promoters of this scam.

    For a start, the presumably 3 metre wide path is divided into two 1.5 (?) metre wide “segregated” strips, each of which would simply be too narrow to allow either cyclists or walkers (often in groups) to pass each other.

    The path as drawn is also curiously free of unleashed dogs and feral youth, either of whom would soon find themselves in conflict with the buses and a substantial security fence would then be required, encroaching on the already exceedingly narrow cycle path.

    Worst of all there is precious little clearance between fast moving buses and cyclists, which any cyclist would know to be positively dangerous. Of course a security fence would also mitigate this, but the whole thing would then resemble some linear PoW camp – not a fitting subject for WEP’s artistic talents.

  4. The Last Bristolian says:

    We don’t want the bus routes. We don’t want the
    ring road completed. We’ve been mute about grocery shopping & leisure moving to locations inaccessible by foot or bus. So, What DO we want?

  5. Bluebaldee says:

    Build the bloody things if you must – they’ll fail because basically they’re buses run by First, things that the vast majority of people that can avoid them, do so.

    But for God’s sake leave the cycle path alone. It’s just madness to destroy it.

    I have major doubts that a BRT network will happen. The funding for it is linked to the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). A prerequisite for cash released from the TIF is “traffic management measures” – congestion charging.

    The strange thing is the TIF fund is worth under £2 billion and we want £800 million of it. How will that happen? Will Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester etc etc just stand by and watch Bristol attempt to lift 40% of the fund?

    So, although the first BRT line (run along the Bristol – Bath cycle path in a quite breathtaking piece of political naivete and misjudgement) seems to be funded, the others rely on this money from the TIF.

    This means that the Council will need to introduce congestion charging after we have just one BRT route, in order to fund the others.

    Haven’t they repeatedly claimed that this wouldn’t be introduced without massive improvements to public transport.

    Basically, I don’t think we’ll get an extensive network of BRTs but I do think we’ll get congestion charging.

    Look on the plus side, they’ll be plenty of fun to be had over the next few years laying down in front of bulldozers, fighting with security guards and police, vandalising plant machinery and burning down the Council House, GOSW offices and First Group.

    Oh happy days.


    Its about time some bloddy happy days were here again.

    This is all clearly a sham the impossible dream that nobody wants or really needs.

    Blogger: I see the scheme hailed in the cancer came from Bradford any links with the new chief exec heading in in April ?

  7. Great example of a use of English that is clearly not plain, to disempower us:

    ‘The Blogger’s eye was, however, caught by the minutes of a discussion the BRT Project Board (pdf) had about their communications strategy:

    Richard Rawlinson (RR) raised the issue of awareness raising on BRT proposals. KH considered that this needed to be linked with GBBN and other initiatives to provide a more strategic approach. Peter Bartlett (PB) suggested use of a common overview context setting text across scheme communications activities. DO considered that more proactive communication strategy would assist with stakeholder support (eg Business West) as schemes develop.

    So what the hell does that all mean? ‘

  8. ovidius naso says:

    Richard Rawlinson, he of ‘Rawlinson’s roadblocks’ fame, is back involved in transport in this city? I thought he’d got the message when he suddenly ‘stopped doing’ his post as head of traffic and transport for the council a few years back.

    Then again, Helen Holland was one of the very few council people who turned up to his leaving party.

  9. dave angel says:

    I would really love to tell Mark Bradshaw what I really think about this hair brained scheme, however the link to Mark Bradshaw on the council website does not seem to be working, does anyone have any contact details for him?

    The ‘artists impressions’ are clearly not the work of anyone who has walked, skated or ridden down the cycle track – just how wide do they think the cycle track is?

    Thankfully we can be safe in the knowledge that in charge of the project are a bunch of absolute incompetent Bristol City Bureaucrats and self appointed quangos that between them don’t seem to have the ability to get any major Bristol capital infrastructure project to the point of conclusion. (see Portishead rail link, Bristol Supertram and Bristol Arena)

  10. Woodsy says:

    I see this idiotic idea is up for finance from the Transport Innovation Fund. Innovation in my dictionary is defined as involving an element of novelty. To be fair buses were novel in the 19th century, so perhaps we should be looking for the innovative element in the utter stupidity of this whole white elephant of a scheme.

  11. Chimpski says:

    There’s a large and negative response to this proposal – I hope someone’s listening.

  12. Chris Hutt says:

    For the benefit of Dave Angel above, the email addy is . Or you can write a proper letter to him c/o the Council House. We really must complain as widely as possible – all our local councillors, MPs, local media, etc. Once the politicos realise that this will cost them dearly in votes they’ll soon have second thoughts.

  13. Woodsy says:

    As previously mentioned, the scale of the path in the sketches is all wrong. To my mind, the idiots behind the BRT scheme have obviously not even bothered with one the absolute basics – a site visit and a quick bit of work with a tape measure.

    The corridor of the path is also home to slow worms – a protected species under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. If this daft scheme goes ahead, please add killing protected species to the list of crimes perpetrated by Bradshaw, First, W£P, etc.

  14. bristoltravelplan says:

    I’m mates with one of the Bristol transport officers who told me bradshaw hit the roof when told of the WEP plans – his people hadn’t even mentioned use of the cyclepath or updated him. He told them to get First off the BRT board and report to him direct on the other options including M32. He gets on well with Sustrans people and is bollocking senior officers almost daily. My mate sits near his office in brunel house and could hear the shouting!

  15. Chris Hutt says:

    It looks like Bradshaw was set up on this one. Perhaps some operator at W£P thought it would serve him right for daring to oppose the South Bristol Ring Road, one of the key elements of W£P’s strategy for unsustainable growth.

  16. bristoltravelplan says:

    sounds like bradshaw was set up well good – perhaps as you say he’s been less than supportive of the South Bristol ring road/link plans and WEP have just dumped bristol in it again – history repeating itself? I think he’s newish to bristol politics and might just take them on – we realy need some new thinking when it comes to bristols transport chaos!!!

  17. thebristolblogger says:

    No. It sounds like Bradshaw’s not up to the job. Who in their right mind relies on council officers to tell them anything?
    Bradshaw should be taking a lot more interest in detail off his own back and ensuring that he receives and reads all the paper work. That’s how you get to be in power rather than in office.
    How the hell did he manage to miss such a major part of such a high profile and valuable (TIF) bid that’s potentially worth hundreds of millions?
    Are we being told he didn’t read it? And are we supposed to feel better about him because of that?
    As for his opposition to the ring road, that’s entirely evaporated since he’s gained power too. At the last full council meeting he was refusing to give straight answers to straight questions about it while he is personally supervising all the preparatory work for it (whether he knows it or not).
    Where I come from his conduct would suggest he’s actually for this road, not against it.

  18. bristoltravelplan says:

    well, that’s your view- mine is more that the WEP bureaucracy is laregly unaccountable and moves ahead regardless. No doubt, bradshaw asked questions but who else has he got to advise him aprt from council officers? I thought he made personal views clear on the road and got the env impact included in the assessment. again, I suspect some officers didn’t like that one bit.

  19. Chris Hutt says:

    I don’t see how any Executive Member with such a wide brief can possible read all the paper thrown at him. Bradshaw must depend on being properly briefed by his officers on the key issues. They’ve obviously failed him, whether through malice or incompetence, though I bet they’ve all got their arses well covered – that’s the one thing they’re good at.

  20. thebristolblogger says:

    Sounds like Bristol Labour have dug out the old Micklewright doctrine in desperation:

    “Politicians always take the credit and officers always take the blame”

  21. Peter Goodwin says:

    I think Chris Hutt is right… the Transport / Waste / Sustainability brief is far too much for one executive member. That’s the Labour Group’s fault, of course – they defined the cabinet roles.

    I’m pretty sure that Mark Bradshaw is being led up the garden path on the waste strategy too. After all, if the officers are trying to mislead the public and council members (and they are), won’t they also be misleading the exec. member ?

  22. Gary Hopkins says:

    The point about being a cabinet Cllr is that ,although you cannot look at every detail,and you do need officers to carry out what policy you put in place,is that you do make the policy and are responsible for it. The job is not just about claiming credit when something nice is opened or goes right.
    The latest howler in the list is the “waste strategy”where Bristol taxpayers will finish up paying a massive PFI bill for the next 28 years for the privelidge of importing waste from South Glos and North Somerset (BANES bailed out)and burning it in Bristol.
    Theres one born every minute but unfortunately they are in charge of our city for the moment.

  23. bristoltravelplan says:

    i suppose we should expect such a party political broadcase from this long (self) serving bristol politican! So what did the previous Lib Dem cabinet member for transport (Cllr Dr Dennis Brown no less) do when the plans for BRT assessment were being drawn up (ie did he object to the cycle path route being part of this?)- and when money was being allocated in the regional transport fund for the South Bristol ring road (did he say no)? and did Cllr Hopkins himself argue against incineration being part of the options for landfil divert? come on, tell the truth for once. Then again, perhaps not.

  24. Well said bristoltravelplan! Cllr Hopkins rarely misses an opportunity to blow his party trumpet!

    My feeling is that if there was a clearer direction and greater conviction behind policies from all the political parties, there would be far less opportunity for things to go awry.

  25. Charlie Bolton says:

    To be fair to Mark Bradshaw, I have no real doubt that either he, or Helen Holland, want anything other than improved public transport in the city.

    The pity of it is that all the people who have signed the cycle path petition want this as well – just not down the cycle path

    I can only hope that the result of this is the cnsl backing down on this route, and then involving other stakeholders (such as Sustrans) in coming up with a solution with as much support as possible from a wide a base as possible – and, then, maybe – just maybe – it might start to happen

    My biggest fear is that there has been a calculation (made by I know not who) – that however angry the cycling lobby is, the roads lobby is much more powerful.

  26. Chris Hutt says:

    I guess everyone involved would like to see improved public transport, but for very different ends. W£P would like it to help mitigate the huge growth in road traffic that their business-as-usual strategy will generate, while environmentalists would like it to help achieve real traffic reductions, two utterly contradictory objectives.

    W£P’s claims that BRT will help tackle congestion are based on a comparison with some hypothetical future scenario where congestion is even worse without BRT than with BRT. But that is not what the man in the street understands by the term “tackling congestion” – he naively presumes (as W£P of course intended) that they mean reducing existing levels of congestion, which is far from the case.

  27. thebristolblogger says:

    This thread is getting ridiculous. The simple fact is that the people of Bristol fork out £2m a year for our elected representatives to take decisions and run the city.
    Now the moment an unpopular decision appears suddenly they all start claiming they do no such thing and resort to dark whispers about ridiculous “officer plots” and unaccountable bureaucracies.
    This is all palpable nonsense. This is all about cowards not taking responsibility for their decisions to save their own sorry arses.
    As for Charlie’s claim that unknown dark forces are plotting to set the motoring lobby against the cycling lobby this is yet more bollocks.
    If he had bothered to do his job properly and read the TIF bid he’d know the key part of the bid is to introduce a congestion charge. The BRT proposal is secondary to this.
    A cynic might say if there’s been any plotting here, it’s by politicians of all stripes who saw the WEP and the Transport Innovation Fund as a handy mechanism for introducing a congestion charge without having to take responsibility for it or put it into their election manifestos and get absolutely shafted at the ballot box
    But unfortunately it’s all gone tits up for them and they’re now reduced to this “it’s not us guv”soppy whining because not one of these thick, lazy incompetents bothered to read their own TIF proposal before posting it to the government.
    Now, due to their own incompetence, they’re on the way to uniting virtually the whole city (motoring and cycling lobbies) against them .
    Oh the hubris!

  28. Chris Hutt says:

    I think you’re right, bristolblogger. It is fundamentally about congestion charging and the desire of our elected representatives to put some distance between it and themselves, to spread the “blame” as widely as possible for when the proverbial finally hits the fan.

    With obscure government agencies, all four local councils and all the main political parties involved, it would become a game of pass-the-parcel-bomb, each participant being able to claim that they were merely a reluctant pawn in the congestion charging strategy, forced to accept it as the price of public transport investment.

    However, due to some very sloppy handling, the parcel-bomb exploded prematurely in the hands of the hapless Bradshaw. It will be interesting to see who breaks ranks first. Perhaps all will be revealed tomorrow night.

  29. paul smith says:

    It doesn’t matter how many consultants reports, partnership documents and officer recommendations there are, the final decision has to be made by the politicians. I don’t think a decision has been made on this yet and so it is still in the hands of the cabinet and the council to reject the proposal to run buses down (and up) the cycle path. Politicians do not have to carry the can for the contents of reports they have not written – afterall it is good if they/we are exposed to a wide range of ideas. the buck stops with politicians when they make the decisions.

  30. Bluebaldee says:

    There’s nothing wrong with Congestion Charging per se, but only if there’s a high quality, cheap and reliable public transport system in place.

    It works in London (just) and could work in Manchester if their tram system is expanded sufficiently.

    But in Bristol? Never.

    Our public transport system would need billions invested in it and First would have to be ejected from the city as they are hopelessly discredited and widely detested.

    Investment on this scale will NEVER HAPPEN in Bristol. Labour is far too fond of its centralised, control-freak approach to regional funding. That’s why Bristol is fed scraps and why our transport system is far worse now than it was even under the dismal Tories.

    I just cannot believe that Labour can be so totally niaive, both locally and nationally, about bringing in a Congestion Charge.

    Their local representatives at the Council House and at the Palace of Westminster surely must realise that Congestion Charging and the madcap proposal of allowing First to run buses down the Bristol to Bath cycle track is the political equivalent of a cup of hemlock.

    Surely even us Bristolians aren’t so stupid that we’d vote in Dawn, Kerry, Paul Smith et al again?

    Hundreds of pounds a year to park a couple of cars in your street. Many more hundreds to drive through the Congestion Charging zone. People simply can’t afford to pay this, especially as it’s allied to rocketing food, fuel, petrol and tax bills. And if you can’t afford to pay it, you won’t.

    The Congestion Charge could well be Labour’s Poll Tax in this city. Transport, along with education are the two main issues in this city and Labour have had almost 11 years to sort them both out.

    They’ve not only failed, they’ve failed spectacularly.

    All this nonsense about the TIF, is just that, nonsense.

    As I’ve mentioned earlier on this thread, the money is simply not available in the quantities required to make a material difference. It’s a total smokescreen.

    Labour’s Gwyneth Dunwoody is Chair of the Transport Scrutiny Commitee in the House of Commons. When the Draft Transport Bill came before her Committee last summer she expressed reservations that the money available from the TIF was totally inadequate. And she’s quite right. It’s worth around £2 billion for the ENTIRE COUNTRY.

    So the “Our Future Transport” document for all its pretty graphics and fine words really is pissing in the wind if it thinks that Bristol’s going to get £800 million from it. It just won’t happen.

    I couldn’t give a toss if Mark Bradshaw has been misled by his officers or whether he’s a crusader for public transport.

    The simple fact is that I’m an amateur with an interest in public transport. I’ve found the time between a demanding job and a newborn son to read the entire Eddington report, “Our Future Transport”, the Joint Local Transport Plan and the Greater Bristol Transport Study.

    It’s as plain as the nose on your face that Bristol’s going to get Congestion Charging without the requisite improvements in public transport., despite the lies from successive Labour and Lib Dem leaders.

    Bradshaw hasn’t been set up. He’s either been lazy and incompetent, or very possibly he’s simply as mendacious as the rest of them and is just upset that he’s taking the flak for deeply unpopular policies.

    “Our Future Transport” takes about three hours to read, cover to cover. He must know what it contains and he must know the mechanics and the funding limitations of the TIF. If he doesn’t he should resign immediately for gross dereliction of duty.

    If the Labour Government won’t even spend £7million on a desperately needed rail link to Portishead, described in the Commons as “the biggest cul-de-sac in Britain”, then who in their right mind thinks that they’re going to pay for a decent public transport system in Bristol. It’s total bollocks. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

    Wistful romantics like Charlie Bolton may well claim that money raised from Congestion Charging will go straight towards improving public transport but that’s another crock.

    Do you really, genuinely believe that the Labour Government is going to let Bristol keep the money, with a massive hole in the public finances and a recession looming. Of course they won’t. They’ll take the money, give us a few token quid for some more “Shitcase” bus routes and use the rest to prop up their vote in the North.

    We don’t even get to keep money from roadside cameras, so we can kiss goodbye to any thoughts of keeping Congestion Charging cash.

    To think otherwise is pure whimsy.

    I voted Labour in 1997 and 2001 and I genuinely felt optimistic about Bristol’s future and trusted my political masters for the first time in my adult life.

    That’s all gone now, swept away in a torrent of broken promises, lies, corruption and snouts-in-the-troughery. Labour today are just as bad, if not worse than the Tories in the dying days of John Major’s Government.

    The sooner they’re booted out of this city for good, the better.

  31. Gary Hopkins says:

    Travelplan. Yes I argued for incineration to be one of the options in the appraisal system. It was rejected by all the then executives (all Lib Dem apart from 1 Labour), stakeholders and the public and there fore should have been landfilled.If we had failed to properly consider and reject it there would be a challenge which is just what might happen now. It was only after the change in all the WOE administrations that incineration reared up again and is now being spun as the public choice.

  32. Gary Hopkins, this is not a sound position. Mass incineration, even with energy recovery, is very much a thing of the past if we are at all serious about low waste or zero waste strategies – or it should be! Therefore, it should not be considered as an option. After all we no longer revisit our reasons for rejecting dumping our waste in the streets now do we!!

  33. bristoltravelplan says:

    Oh dear Mr hopkins: why nothing about the BRT and cycle path? perhaps you haven’t been able to make sense of dennis’s answer or he’s still talking to you> anyway would love to know your partys position on BRT etc. After all dr dennis had 2 years at this before bradshaw’s time in control began.

    ps your answer on incineration was pretty convoluted – a straight answer about whether or not you thought incin/efw was a viable option etc would be enough

  34. Gary Hopkins says:

    Liberal Democrats clearly reject incineration and have had demos against it supported by FOE and even a rebel Tory Cllr but I am afraid Bristols 1 green Cllr ,despite being there refused to join the photo..The reason for considering and rejecting is prove that we have thought about it and have sound reasons for doing so.Unlike some others we have made real strides towards actually reducing waste 2006/7 Bristol the best performing unitary council in England with getting on for 20,000 tons reduction.
    BRT is useful but gov. tie councils hands on this. BRT on the cycle path is very different and this became the preferred option only in May 2007.
    Jon Rogers and myself made our views very clear at the meeting tonight.

  35. BristleKRS says:

    Good to hear you and Mr Rogers got to the meeting, I would like to have gone but couldn’t make it; the initial BBC report sounds like it was a strong turn-out, which is most promising.

    However, I think you are a little premature in heralding Bristol as some kind of shining beacon in waste reduction and recycling. My experience of it has been that there is little or no coordination of services.

    Here on my St. Paul’s estate we currently have at least 5 different organisations apparently involved in the standard collection process, and yet none of them knows, or is prepared to tell us, exactly how it’s all supposed to fit together.

    What we can and can’t put in our estate recycling centre seems to change on a monthly basis. Commercial operations appear to be able to choose to collect or not collect recyclable material on a whim.

    Kitchen waste collections can be sporadic.

    Recycling boxes are of an inferior construction.

    Virtually our entire estate’s large kitchen bins ‘disappeared’ in a single day and have not been replaced.

    There are conflicting messages from different organisations relation to our estate’s services.

    Little or no effort appears to be put into providing recycling facilities for low weight/high volume materials, with most effort instead going to the traditionally easy-to-recycle bottles and cans, and the kitchen waste collections.

    And of course there was the great Smelly Summer – the genius idea to implement the kitchen waste collection programme in the hottest time of the year despite the probability – nay, certainty – that the change in waste collection services would create initial problems in terms of routes, schedules and the rest. The result? Waste bins across swathes of the city left uncollected for two weeks or more, in desperately hot weather, leading to maggots on the streets and flies in the air. Mmmmm, welcome to Bristol!

    It’s also been fascinating to watch this in conjunction with the many new student blocks and other apartment buildings springing up around the city – many with embarrassingly insufficient bin facilities. Cue pavements taken over in the day or two before collection by rotting food and other waste and recycling, bursting out of overfilled refuse rooms. Possibly an infestation of fearless rats on the streets of inner city Bristol is not the image we want in the 21st century… However, that is the reality I see in my neighbourhood.

    I very much hope that the goodwill and desire to cut waste that I see around me on my estate amongst my neighbours is not soured by the continuing decline in the services we pay for.

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