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CyclingWorks Bristol: Join call from employers for safer cycling

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The CyclingWorks Bristol campaign aims to highlight the voice of employers in support of safer commuting by bike. The campaign’s concept originates in London where it successfully mobilised over 200 employers and helped to facilitate the creation of London’s first cycling superhighway, the CS3 aka “crossrail for bikes”. In this blog post, Ian Pond, the volunteer Campaign Lead for CyclingWorks Bristol, explains why protected bike lanes and more cycling infrastructure are crucial to encouraging more people to switch to active travel, and how employer support can play a key role. Ian has spent most of his career working in marketing in the telecoms sector. He has been motivated by the changes seen during lockdown to invest his time in this campaign.

It’s been an interesting journey for me over the last couple of months that has inspired me to work on this campaign. Through lockdown, the car sat idle, public transport was a “no-go” and walking and cycling became the primary options. As lockdown has eased, I’ve felt that that without effort to make structural change, it will be all too easy to lose the transport positives brought into prospect by this terrible, enforced situation.

Cycling on busy city roads is a disconcerting experience, Department for Transport (DfT) research* consistently finds that the majority of people agree with the statement “roads are too dangerous for me to cycle on”. Furthermore, accident statistics** show that cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are far more likely to be injured or killed on the road and are classed as “vulnerable road users”.

In some countries this is not the case, roads are not dominated by motor vehicles and cycling is simply a mode of transport, not a “hobby” or a “lobby”. These countries haven’t needed to separate cyclists to protect them, but I believe that on major city roads in this country, we must. And it is this conclusion that motivates me to work on CyclingWorks Bristol.

The TravelWest annual commuter survey shows that about 50% of car journeys to work across Bristol are less than 5 miles – too far to walk, but eminently cyclable in 40 minutes at a leisurely non-sweaty speed!

However, until cycling is perceived to be safe there is little likelihood of car drivers being persuaded to take the risk. Protected bike lanes separated from vehicles and pedestrians remove the conflict and deliver safety.

I’m sure that member organisations of Bristol Green Capital Partnership are working to become more cycle friendly. However, until more of your staff feel safe cycling on the roads, no amount of on-site bike parking or showers will persuade them to switch.

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has recently adopted its “Local Cycling and Walking Plan 2020-2036” for our region, complete with snappy acronym LCWIP.

The CyclingWorks Bristol is fully supportive of the LCWIP, and we are inviting the region’s business community to voice its support. Why?… foremost because this is a health and safety issue. Your staff should have the option to commute by bike and be safe. But further because it delivers tangible business benefits for you, ranging from staff health and wellbeing, improved productivity, even with recruitment, as well as the wider environmental benefits of reducing car usage, including better air quality.

Working with Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Business West, North Bristol SusCom, Destination Bristol and Sustrans, CyclingWorks Bristol is inviting organisations across the city to express support for 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 ask that our Park & Ride locations are made cycle friendly (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 despite our hilly terrain, and the increasing use of e-bikes will make it even easier. However, it is only by creating safe and accessible end-to-end cycling corridors and infrastructure that we will give more people the confidence to get on their bike.

To find out how your organisation can help, please visit the CyclingWorks Bristol website.

 

References:
* Department for Transport National Travel Attitudes Study

** Department for Transport Statistics – Reported road casualties in Great Britain

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