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Bristol Road Safety Summit

Sue Mountstevens held a Road Safety Summit with Bristol Mayor George Ferguson on December 11, 2013, you can watch a video from the event here and you can also read a summary of notes from the question and answer session below:

The panel consisted of:

  • Police & Crime Commissioner – Sue Mountstevens (SM)
  • Chief Constable – Nick Gargan (NG)
  • First Group – Sue Arrowsmith, Commercial Group Manager (SA)
  • Cycling Expert – John Grimshaw (JG)
  • Spacial Advisor – Ben Hamilton-Ballie (BHB)
  • Road’s Policing Unit – Chief Inspector Yannis Georgiou (YG)
  • Bristol City Council – Alistair Cox, Transport Manager (AC)
  • Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford (replaced Nick Gargan who had to leave part way through) (JS)


(Key – bold denotes the question from the public)

There has been no mention of mobility scooters throughout the event and users of these can suffer a particularly difficult time.

SM agreed that tolerance and respect is needed for all road users.

There are too many cars in the centre of Bristol which leads to increased frustration, and this causes trouble. Should look to reduce number of cars by 50% - one way of doing this would be to reduce the number of parking spaces drastically, in particular those allocated to corporate or business spaces.

AC confirmed that the Council is looking at different approaches to try to reduce the number of cars in the city centre, one of the most recent of these that they consulted on was the Residents Parking Scheme. It is important to the Mayor to reduce the volume of through traffic and the council are investigating solutions and options that will achieve this.

In South Gloucestershire, since the turn off of the speed cameras there has been a decrease in the accident rate, which is the opposite to the findings in the RAC report.

NG clarified that the balance of evidence across the police service and a recent RAC Foundation Report makes it a sensible decision to turn the cameras back on. In terms of pure statistics over a couple of years in a small area there may have been a reduction but on the whole this is not the case.

Instead of fixed speed cameras it would be preferable to see them replaced by two officers with sensible decision making.

NG stated he would love to do that but this just isn’t possible. The numbers of officers is reducing – in a year’s time the Force will be 4/5 of its current size. NG acknowledged that cameras are indiscriminate but that placed in sensible locations they do more good than harm.

As a legal cyclist, often sees police ignore cyclists without lights and those cycling on the pavement, concerned about the message this is sending. If we’ve got laws they should be enforced. Is it purely a question of manpower? Could the Police clarify what the public should do please?

NG advised that when the public see officers passing minor offences and not dealing with them, it is important to remember that they don’t know where the officer might be going – they will be going to meet the needs of the public somewhere and they need to prioritise their response. If officers dealt pedantically with every offence that they came across as they left the station then the areas immediately surrounding stations would be very safe but it would be a lawless wilderness beyond that! This is why officers are given discretion. Where the police see a growing concern in a particular area or have issues brought to their attention by the public they are able to put extra resources in for a short period or undertake specific initiatives to tackle them, for example bike lights. We need to be realistic about what can be achieved by a small Force, need the public to assist with self-policing.

(Chief Constable Nick Gargan left the panel at this stage and was replaced by Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford)

What plans are there for Greenways? Don’t appear to be any concrete enforceable guidelines.

JG advised that the problem is one of space. When they were built there were hardly any cyclists, now there are many more cyclists and ideally the greenway would need to be wider. It is important to look for tolerance between the users of this space. JG stated he did feel that there were some cyclists who cycled along it too fast and whilst they are not doing anything illegal they need to respect pedestrians.

AC agreed and stated that he now cycles and wants to encourage others to do so also. The council would like to create a culture where there is more tolerance and people take more care as they travel. In the continent for example where cycling is much more prevalent – the more people who cycle, the better it will be.

The positive action the police are taking where cyclists who do not have lights are given 24 hours to purchase and fit some is excellent. Cyclists are very vulnerable, and cars are often parked in the cycle lanes which is dangerous – there is no enforcement of this. There is also some confusion around the lines used to show cycle lanes, coloured tarmac is use in some and not others and they often stop randomly – what plans are there to make cycle lanes clearer.

JS commented in relation to the enforcement of the cars parked in cycle lanes and echoed what the Chief had said previously – officers need to prioritise what they deal with but this doesn’t mean that they won’t deal with minor offences at all. It was also important to note that drivers who hold disabled badges can often park in places other road users can’t.  In terms of some of the local issues relating to the cycle tracks it is important for residents to raise these issues at their local forums with the police so that they can be looked at.

YG commented that one of the key things coming out of the discussions was it comes down to the attitudes of the road users. Changing people’s attitudes to other road users can often make the most difference in terms of making the roads safer. Road engineering and design is important but it is attitudes that are most important.

SM agreed that attitudes are a key element coming out of discussions.

Is there safety in numbers? More cyclists has been seen to reduce risk – in London there has been seen a correlation not causation. Not seen this here.

AC stated that there has been good academic which shows that if you normalise something, people expect it and get used to it. For example in York they have radically increased the numbers of cyclists and have seen their collision numbers flatline. It’s important to have a high segregation for this to work. AC queried whether attendees had noticed a similar occurrence on Bonfire night when they may have attended fireworks displays and the high numbers of people which turn out for these and take over the roads forces the cars to slow down. A similar change has been seen on the continent where cycling has been normalised.

Could the panel consider making a video to share with partnerships following the discussions at the summit today?

SM agreed this would be a very powerful message and agreed to consider it.

What are the Police doing to ensure comments on road consultation are based on evidence and has the PCC signed up to CTCs Road Justice campaign?

SM confirmed that yes, she has signed up to the Road Justice campaign.

JS advised that they would be looking to introduce the events that Bristol Cycling Campaign had spoken of earlier in the evening.

An attendee asked if he could read out 10 commandments relating to cycling safely.

SM asked if he would mind sharing them by e-mail afterward as time was tight and she wanted to allow as many questions as possible.

Are there any plans to record near misses as incidents?

YG advised that the Road Policing Unit already do this as part of road safety. It is based on all the information received from the public.

SM suggested these should also be discussed at Neighbourhood Forums so that areas of particular concern can be noted as a priority.

AC advised that Bristol are also developing a portal similar to the one in London where the public can log these incidents and then an evidence picture can be created. It is anticipated this will be launched in 2014.

What will be the measures of success to incentivise and drive forward the changes in the community?

SM asked – what should they be?

Community engagement and look to third parties to bring ideas to the table to reduce fatalities. Strive for Green City Awards in 2016 – provides incentive for cohesive community behaviour.

BHB queried how they could measure what they are trying to achieve? He felt measuring the number of accidents is a clumsy way of doing it and there was a need to find ways to objectify and consider measuring civility. It’s a very difficult question.

AC commented that an increase in activities – both in walking and cycling is seen this will be beneficial in many ways, two examples given were that it is good for people’s health and also good for the economy – increased pedestrians could lead to increased footfall in shops.

Some drivers don’t believe cyclists belong on the road for example when cyclists are seen to take action such as stop at a red light, move to the pavement and back to the road, this is very dangerous. Tolerance is needed between all parties - cyclists need safe routes – all need to be aware they are all users of crowded spaces and need to tolerate each other. As a cyclist he doesn’t do that, has also seen cyclists undertaking when cars/lorries are turning left, which is dangerous. Feels a major education campaign is needed to teach people how to cycle safely.

AC agreed that junctions can be the main areas of collision. Agreed that it is important to ensure that cyclists are safe and this can be about education to ensure people are not putting themselves at risk. Bristol are looking at some of the schemes in London such as sensors.

SM asked SA to speak about the scheme that her company have been conducting.

SA spoke about the events where cyclists have been invited to come along and sit socially in buses and meet bus drivers. The bus drivers have then cycled round the bus so that the cyclists can see what the bus driver sees and the driver gets to experience the road from the cyclists perspective, it is hoped this will increase road safety and go some way to changing the culture on the roads in Bristol. First Group plan to hold some more of these events in March next year and are working with Brandon Trust on organising them.

SM closed the meeting and asked if anyone had a question that had not been answered if they would submit it via e-mail and it would receive a response.


How many people driver have been convicted of using a mobile phone while driving in the past 12 months?

In the past year 193 people were convicted for using a mobile phone whilst driving, there will be further drivers that have issued with fixed penalty notices.

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