Bristol’s young people talk transport

By Ian Barrett,
young adults cycling to work

Did you know that there are more under 15’s in Bristol than over 65’s? Green Capital year is a huge opportunity to talk about transport in Bristol, and the recent Green Youth Summit in Colston Hall was a great chance to meet some of Bristol’s 81,000 young people and hear their thoughts on Bristol’s transport challenges.

Bristol 2015 logoThrough hundreds of conversations with young people it was obvious that they are very tuned in to transport issues. Their comments mirrored the conversations that we’re having throughout Bristol every day. 

Positive and negative experiences of Bristol travel

“It’s nice to get fresh air before I’m stuck in school!” we were told by one. Another told us “Walking is fun and it doesn’t make pollution”. Another told us “It’s ok in parts but it could be better. It [cycling] is too hairy in traffic!” and that “cycling lanes are confusing when they suddenly stop and disappear!”. 

Hills, long journeys, traffic and the weather were all common themes. They also talked about poor cycle provision, air quality and angry drivers.

Five individual conversations called for more segregated routes to separate cyclists and pedestrians. One young person asked for road surfaces to be improved and another for more 20mph zones. Of all the comments received, around 50% called for improvements or highlighted issues.

Perhaps most worryingly was how often we heard the word “scary”. It’s apparent that the young people met are discouraged, particularly from cycling, by a perception of lack of safety.

This isn’t unique to Bristol’s young people. In March 2012, the British Social Attitudes report published data that said 69% of non-cyclists strongly agreed or agreed that it is “too dangerous to cycle on the roads”. 20% of non-cyclists were “very or fairly confident about cycling on the roads”.

Walking is great! It’s relaxing and gives me a chance to catch up with friends

- pupil

Bristol has some great routes for cycling, but also some areas we'd really like to see improved. We're pleased to be working with the Council to deliver their cycling strategy to improve provision for people on bikes, including creating new routes and bridges as part of the Cycling Ambition Fund project.

Walking and cycling is great

The most encouraging thing that we found was the huge enthusiasm from young people in Bristol to travel actively.

The young people we met love to walk. Almost 65% of them told us they walked to school and that they love doing it. “walking is great!” we were told. “It’s relaxing and gives me a chance to catch up with friends”. 

They also want to cycle more. 10% of them (much more than the national average of 2%) cycle to school and many of them told us that they’d love to do it more.

A specific conversation found a teenage boy who cycles in from Bath and finds the traffic free Bristol to Bath path too long and the A37 difficult due to being alongside the carriage way.  He was looking to find a more pleasant and more convenient route.

Our expertise allows us to work directly with communities to overcome their transport challenges.

We are able to engage with people to understand how their vision for their community can be turned into practical projects.

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