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Action to reduce crime risk on the Bristol Bath Railway Path

CyclingWorks Bristol became concerned by the spike in crime that took place on specific sections of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path in late 2020, as we know that many bike commuters use this traffic-free corridor as part of their daily journey allowing them to avoid the alternative of busy roads.

We raised the issue with both Bristol City Council (BCC) & South Glos Council (SGC) and have reached out to other organisation with expertise locally and beyond to try to understand what actions might be taken to improve personal safety. We used these learnings (our thanks go to all contributors) to put together a survey for all path users (cyclists, walkers & runners) working with Bristol Cycling Campaign (BCyC), Bristol Walking Alliance (BWA) and others.

The survey was completed by just under 1,100 people, the fact that 72% of these live in postcodes bordering the path and 59% of them told us that they (normally) use the path at least a few times each week, means that we are confident that the results are robust and offer compelling evidence for decision makers & stakeholders.

The key data points from the results were as follows:

  • 93% of people were aware of the crime spike, with social media being the primary of source of information for 60% of them.
  • 85% of people told us that their confidence in using the path had been eroded by the recent crime spike.
  • 47% of males, rising to 57% of females said that they were “considering alternatives, especially after dusk”, or are now “avoiding using the path until reassured”.
  • When asked about “steps that could be taken to make you feel safer” 94% of people expressed that increased police patrols were very important or important.
  • When asked about the visibility of police on the path, 70% of those on the path recently said they had not seen the police.
  • Of the other crime reduction steps raised in the survey, improved lighting & targeted CCTV were supported by 90% or more, with 84% supporting better maintenance of undergrowth along the path borders.

Based on these results, together with BCyC & BWA, we are now in discussion with BCC & SGC and calling for:

  1. A commitment to a determined plan of action to restore people’s confidence about their personal safety when using the path.
  2. Work to encourage Avon & Somerset Police to maintain/increase patrols in the short term.
  3. A commitment to an immediate path maintenance programme i.e. fix broken lights & thin undergrowth.
  4. Funding for improvements to lighting & installation of CCTV at some access points and known crime hotspots.

We have also asked that a location based incident tracking mechanism be set-up to allow an accurate path crime report to be created, as this has been highlighted as an issue for non-street locations, like the path.
You can find more about the survey results and requested actions in the survey report

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Gear Change and L.T.N 1/20

The Government make two major announcements about promoting active travel and making it safer on the roads for cyclists.

This week saw the publication of “Gear Change” Strategy and Department for Transport’s LTN 1/20 – Cycle Infrastructure Design.
In “Gear Change” the government announced the details of how it intends to spend £2 billion on increasing the numbers of people walking and cycling and includes the creation of a new body Active Travel England
It will have a key focus on safety by improving bike lanes and offering training to help cyclists with skills to boost their confidence, so that they’re more likely to choose to travel by bike for when commuting, shopping locally and making short journeys.
In its foreword by the Prime Minster he states that his plan is “ to start prescribing bikes on the NHS – with the bicycle in effect giant, universal prescription, with our bike lanes becoming huge, 24-hour gyms, free and open to everyone.”
Follow link to see “Gear Change” document.

This week also saw the launch of the Department for Transport’s Local Transport Note LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design. This document provides guidance to local authorities on the design of safe cycling lanes, junctions, and bike parking.
The foreword by the Minister of State with responsibility for cycling and walking includes some stark words about previous practice stating “Too much cycling infrastructure is substandard, providing little protection from motorised traffic and giving up at the very places it is most needed. Some is actually worse than nothing, because it entices novice cyclists with the promise of protection, then abandons them at the most important places. Poor cycling infrastructure discourages cycling and wastes public money.
Follow link to LTN1/20

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Initial Goals

Business focused bike commuting campaign CyclingWorks Bristol invites the region’s employers to support protected bike lanes and better cycling infrastructure

3rd Aug 2020 – Following the adoption in June by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) of its Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), business focused bike commuting campaign CyclingWorks Bristol calls for the support of employers across the Bristol travel to work area for the priority delivery of N-to-S and E-to-W protected cycling corridors to make it safer and easier for workers to commute by bike. An important part of the priority proposals is to make each of the city’s Park & Ride location more cycle friendly, together with increasing the availability of secure bike parking across the City.
The campaign has already signed up the support of regional business representation bodies; Business West, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, North Bristol Suscom and Destination Bristol, together with Sustrans, the champions of active travel as campaign partners and a growing number of regional employer organisations have already expressed their support.
As well as seeking the broad support of employers for the cycling and walking plan, the campaign has identified three initial priorities that will make a big difference to cycle safety.
Firstly, the creation of two protected bike lanes to connect from E-to-W & N-to-S, based on existing and LCWIP routes. It is critical that these routes are continuous and separated from vehicles and pedestrians. Safe cycling corridors across the city will give more people the confidence to opt for their bike.
Secondly, we consider that the regions’ Park & Ride locations should be cycle friendly with secure overnight cycle parking, bike rental, charging points for e-bikes, so that people living further afield can drive to the periphery, then cycle from there, without needing to transport bikes home each day.
The third is the installation of significantly more secure cycling parking facilities across the city centre.
Bristolians have already embraced bike commuting to a good degree in spite of our hilly terrain, the increasing use of e-bikes will make them easier for all, however it is only by creating safe end-to-end cycling corridors and infrastructure, we will give even more people the confidence to get on their bike.
Commenting on the launch, James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chambers of Commerce and Initiative at Business West stated “We’re very pleased to be partners of the CyclingWorks Bristol campaign. The 22,000 businesses and employers we represent wish to see an acceleration in the improvement and decarbonisation of our transport system and recognise the need to now place a higher priority on active travel.
Ann O’Driscoll, Director of North Bristol Suscom representing the employers of around 45,000 staff in the Northern fringe said “North Bristol SusCom are proud to partner with the CyclingWorks Bristol campaign. Our members have worked hard to enable staff to commute to work by bike by investing in secure cycle parking, shower/drying facilities, offering the cycle to work scheme and running commuter fairs where staff can get their bike serviced and try out the latest e-bikes. We now need proper cycling infrastructure in place to make sure many more of our employees can cycle to work safely.

Major employer Rolls Royce is supporting the campaign, Mark Lovatt, Director Manufacturing, Assembly & Test, Rolls Royce added “each year the travel to work survey amongst our 3,000 employees finds that the reasons for not cycling have included road safety, poor road surfaces and lack of cycle lanes, these improvements could encourage our employees to switch modes of transport.”

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Introducing Cycling Works Bristol

CyclingWorks Bristol is modelled on the successful campaign used in London, that was influential in enabling the City’s first Cycling Superhighways. In 2014, the so called “Crossrail for bikes” encountered resistance – the letters of support from over 200 of London’s Biggest employers helped the London Assembly & Boroughs understand its importance to Business.
The catalyst for getting the campaign going now in Bristol is the adoption on 19th June 2020 by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) of its Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Now that our region has a plan, there is an opportunity for business to support this.
It is important because it is about giving staff the option to commute by bike safely on protected bike lanes. More staff commuting by bike delivers other tangible benefits. It improves Physical & Mental Health, Reduces Absenteeism & increases Productivity, delivers Environmental benefits, Parking related costs savings, & Recruitment & Retention benefits.
The focus is on 3 priorities to deliver a better bike commuting experience:

  • N-to-S & E-to-W protected bike corridors, based on the LCWIP & existing routes.
  • Cycle friendly facilities at each of our Park & Rides.
  • Additional secure bike parking across the city centre

We are currently inviting business leaders to learn more and ideally back it. Please do contact us.