Sunday, May 24, 2009

London and Bristol

We met with officials from the national Department of Transport and then from the City of London. London is very busy with 7 million residents and another 2 million that commute in. They have established congestion pricing so that it costs more to enter the city during peak periods. This is an attempt to encourage the use of public transportation, biking and walking. The traffic here is more like an American city and biking is a small but growing percentage of the mode share. They have some innovative programs around teaching kids including one where professional actors come to a school, work with kids on traffic issues and then put on a play about safety issues. This has been well received and thought to be effective.

They have a great data collection and reporting system and are very careful to evaluate the effectiveness of projects as well as any educational campaigns. Their main bike facility is on-road bike lanes.

Bristol is about an hour and a half out of London by train and is a city of 400,000. Bristol has recently been selected as a cycling city in the U.K., which is a program like our non-motorized pilot program. The premise is whether they can double the amount of biking by investing heavily in promotion, education and infrastructure that supports it. They are just at the beginning of this program which will run through 2011. They are working on critical links in their biking network but all of the city staff and elected officials seem very supportive of the idea. In a brief chat with a City councilor, she said that the program fit well with several initiatives they already had going, like things to address congestion, climate change, better health for citizens and maintaining a high quality of life for citizens. This is a theme we have heard throughout our trip. Bicycling and walking and public transit are key components of efforts to address many of the worlds largest social problems. It's not just about biking and walking, but about establishing a more sustainable lifestyle that will benefit all.

1 comment:

  1. A pity you didn't speak to any cyclists in Bristol to find out what the consumers think. Was the councillor you spoke to even a cyclist? You seem to have swallowed the corporate line uncritically. Is that what you do back home?