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Is cycling cash money well spent?

June 23, 2009

A team of researchers at the UWE is starting a major study to discover if money spent promoting cycling makes any difference to the number of people who cycle.

The result could make a big difference to the way projects such as Bristol’s Cycling City programme are seen. The city is to spend £23m on becoming the most bike-friendly in the UK.

The start of the project comes as Bristol’s Lib Dem transport boss makes one of the most radical pro-cycling proposals yet: closing the Portway to cars on Sundays.

Jon Rogers has suggested the idea based on the success of Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride this weekend. He says he’ll consider closing the Portway and Ladies’ Mile to motorists on several Sundays each year.

UWE researcher Kieron Chattarjee told #SITE_NAME# information was vital in assessing the success or failure of projects like Cycling City.

He said: “These are crucial issues for society in general and it’s important we have some objective information to give a robust picture of how effective cycling investment can be.”

He also maintained the UWE study would be independent, despite being funded by Cycling England and the Department for Transport.

He said: “The Department for Transport represent all forms of transport. They’re concerned that investment in cycling stands up to scrutiny as opposed to other forms of transport.

“Should that money be spent better on walking or buses for example? We’re an independent team looking into this.”

As an example of the type of plan being considered for cycling city, Jon Rogers proposal to close the Portway and Ladies Mile for several Sundays each year is one of the most controversial yet.

He wants the section of the Portway running beneath the Suspension Bridge to Sylvan Way to be closed to cars – as it was for the Biggest Bike Ride this weekend.

He told us:  “Currently it’s closed twice a year, for the biggest Bike Ride and the Half Marathon. But I wanted to raise the question with people whether we should do it more often so people can enjoy what is a beautiful bit of Bristol.

“If it’s only closed in that section there are alternative routes. We need to strike a balance and on Sundays the traffic on the Portway is fairly light, and I think it’s something worth considering.”

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Jon Rogers

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