Sustainable Urban Transport Bristol Case Study

Why does Bristol need a sustainable urban transport strategy?

Bristol is a city and country located on the River Avon, in south-west England. Bristol has a population of 463,400. Therefore, there is a significant demand for transport. Like most cities in the UK, Bristol is developing a more sustainable urban transport strategy.

As a growing city with a densely populated historic centre, transport is a significant issue. Thousands of journeys in cars are made each day in Bristol. The reliance of its population on cars leads to increased congestion, poor air quality and poor health, and making the streets less friendly to pedestrians.

In the decade leading up to 2015, the number of people cycling in Bristol doubled. Cycling is easy, cheap and free from pollution. However, the city significantly lagged behind European cities, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen. To further encourage cycling, the city developed and launched the Bristol Cycling Strategy in 2015.

Bristol Cycle Strategy

Launched in 2015, the 5-year aims of the Bristol Cycling Strategy were:

  • INVESTMENT – £16 invested per head of population (£7 million) every year to deliver transformational cycle change
  • SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY – 20% of commuter trips into the city centre made by bike
  • LABORATORY FOR CHANGE – Experimental and cutting edge cycle projects delivered every year
  • HEALTHY CHILDREN – 20% of children cycling to secondary school
  • NORMALISING CYCLING – Progressing delivery of an attractive, safe, 8-80 cycle network
  • INCREASING CONFIDENCE AND SAFETY – 75% of all pupils to have taken part in Level 2 Bikeability training by the end of year 6 and increasing numbers of adults taking up training year on year

Source: Bristol Cycle Strategy – Simplifying Cycling

Benefits of cycling

There is a range of benefits associated with cycling, including:

  • every £1 invested in cycling sees a £4 return into the local economy
  • lowering obesity
  • exercise
  • benefits to mental and physical health
  • reducing the number of sick days taken off work
  • improving health
  • streets feeling safer with more people on them
  • boosting tourism
  • reduced air pollution
  • reduced congestion
  • reduced CO2 emissions

Features of the scheme

The main features of the scheme include:

  • 75% of Y6 pupils will achieve a Level 2 bikeability qualification, which will encourage the future generation to use a bike
  • the development of the cycle network has focussed on using quieter routes
  • where traffic cannot be avoided, such as the city centre, vehicles and cyclists are separated
  • 19% of residents now cycle each month

Other sustainable urban transport strategies in Bristol

In addition to the cycling strategy, there are several other sustainable urban transport strategies in Bristol. These include:

  • the introduction of a new generation of rapid transit buses, designed to improve journey times
  • a network of charging points for electric cars
  • a metro-style rail service linking Bristol to other local towns, which has included reopening old railway lines
  • reducing speed limits to 20 mph in neighbourhoods across Bristol to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists
  • the development of three park and ride schemes

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