Your turn to solve gridlock . . . Bristol business leaders offer £5,000 prize for best idea

Profile image for The Bristol Post

By The Bristol Post | Friday, November 09, 2012, 09:04

BRISTOL business leaders are looking for people to come up with ideas to solve the city's congestion problems.

They have launched a competition, which is open to anyone, to put forward schemes that will rid Bristol of its daily gridlock.

They have put up a £5,000 prize for the best idea, taking inspiration from the competition which brought about Isambard Kingdom Brunel's design for the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Peter Hargreaves, the outspoken boss of stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, will judge the entries along with Guy Kingston, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

A £1,000 prize is also on offer from the Association of British Drivers with the aim of improving parking in Bristol.

Mr Kingston said: "We all know that someone should be doing something about the transport problems that are strangling business in Bristol.

"We have decided to put the organisation's money where its mouth is and will give £5,000 for the best idea we receive.

"Small businesses need good transport links to survive. The city council keeps coming up with initiatives but they never seem to improve the situation.

"We are sure the people of Bristol can do a better job and come up with a whole batch of good suggestions.

"Whether it is an idea that will improve transport on one road junction in the city or a scheme that encompasses the whole area, we want to hear it. Ideas don't necessarily have to involve new infrastructure, or changes to existing infrastructure. The winner may well be something that changes people's travelling behaviour, making it easier and more pleasant for us all to move around the city and find a parking space when we get there."

The plan is to present the best ideas to the city's new elected mayor and the council. The FSB will then campaign to have them implemented.

In the last few months schemes such as turning traffic lights amber in the evenings, putting in place a system where electric driverless pods link Temple Meads with Cabot Circus and making parking free on Sundays have been suggested by organisations or mayoral candidates.

Mr Kingston said: "We keep getting told that our economic recovery depends on the small business sector. But the grand projects we hear about often overlook small business needs.

"A plumber can't do his rounds on a bendy bus, organic veg boxes can't be delivered by bike. Independent shops close when nearby free parking spaces are lost. Consultants need to be able to drive to meetings and park when they get there.

"Time wasted in traffic jams and trying to find parking spaces is a real drain on our economy. Public transport solutions may be useful for certain sections of the commuting public but for many small businesses they are never going to be fast enough or convenient enough.

The Association of British Drivers has put up a separate prize of £1,000 for the best parking idea for the city.

Spokesman Brian MacDowall said: "Private cars provide the most flexible, and most cost-effective transport mode, and are used for more than 85 per cent of journeys.

"But, all too often government or local councils see motorists as a cash cow to be milked at will, especially with increased parking charges and extensions of chargeable parking periods.

"Added to that road safety policy, environmental strategy, and local planning decisions have become dominated by 'anti-car' factions. We see ever greater restrictions and limitation on parking, many of which seem to have no rational justification other than an inherent dislike of cars by the people imposing them."

Mr MacDowall said ideas to improve parking could take a variety of forms.

"Maybe there were double yellow lines outside a school that has closed or moved," he said. "Perhaps there's some wasteland that would make an ideal car park for people who work in light industrial units. We must use our imagination and find solutions that help, not hinder, people.

"It's a simple quality of life matter.

"Many journeys have to be made by car or not at all. If you can't park easily and cheaply when you get there, life is that bit more miserable.

"We want to change that and are keen to find some exciting and innovative ways we can expand Bristol's parking capacity that benefits everybody and doesn't create new eyesores in the city."

The competition opens next Tuesday and closes on November 27.

Details of how to enter will be announced next week.



  • Profile image for winterdown

    Hold on a minute .... are we not already paying people in the council to solve this problem? What do they do all day except design in more congestion. Why do we have to run a competition to help them with their jobs?? You ony have to look at the short sighted measures over the years. Examples such as
    - Hippodrome roundabout with a major design flaw, 1 bus in the wrong place in the figure of 8 and you have gridlock all ways
    - Closed streets making any small jam (e.g. broken down car) escalate into a gridlock situation
    - Bus lanes that just remove even more road space and capacity
    - Cabot circus, when they built it why not put an underpass (under House of Fraser) for the traffic which goes round the centre instead of another figure of eight? Crossing traffic paths just increase congestion
    - Traffic lights on every roundabout, roundabouts have rules already, why not switch off the lights in certain periods (or flashing amber) Some areas just don't need them at all
    - Park Row/St Michaels hill has been a problem for ever and the alternatives (Park St/Centre) is even worse
    - Open the roads out again, stop the funnelling of traffic, get rid of some traffic lights, switch off lights (amber flashing at night) Change Hippodrome back into a smaller roundabout (keep dock end area pedestrianised, but smaller)
    - Identify all key convergence points (e.g. Bear Pit roundabout) - Adpat priority flow for in/out of town free flow at peak times to reduce surrounding congestion and get cars out of the area.

    Traffic planning has to step right back and look at the basics, rather than continually adding more choke points (traffic lights, road closure mainly) in an ever spiralling downward circle of short term 'fixes' which exascerbate the problems.
    BUSES - Big issue with bus usage is the fact if you do not use them regularly (which should be encouraged) you face a major issue with which one, when and where. We need maps that tell you where you are and where you can get off relevent to streets/major attractions. As an occasional user looking at a bus map/timetable the bus stop names have no meaning. Example look at the bus map and with no prior knowledge work out what bus and where to get off for city centre shops. You can end up nowhere near where you need

    By winterdown at 10:51 on 21/11/12

  • Profile image for JamseTipper

    I know some try to blame congestion on the good people of Bristol, who own cars. When we all know it's the council blocking off 90% of roads to cars that's funnelling traffic in to a tiny number of roads and causing traffic jams. And of course when theres a blockage, like a broken-down bus, theres gridlock because the council have blocked all alternative routes. There is now less traffic going through central Bristol, but more congestion (
    The anti-car brigade (who love talking down to people and telling them what to do), are ecology zealots who want to take us back to some stone age North Korea existence. The car is the prefer means of transport for most people. Instead of trying to force people to leave their cars by anti-car measures, provide a proper decent modern alternative. (i.e. not a smelly, noisy, uncomfortable, expense bus covering the city in black diesel fumes). So people have freedom of choice. We are not North Korea
    I know the LieDem council (total hypocrites by the way; have tried to sabotage an elected mayor, but I think you find that as the mayor will be elected (i.e. Democratic), rather than appointed by party cronies, they will have great power, and can apply for more.
    The Mayor's first act should be to dump the BRT (bus rapid transport) scheme that is destroying local shops and communities. And try to save the millions of our money that being wasted by this council.
    The second act; scrap all councillor expenses, thus saving the good people of Bristol a small fortune.

    By JamseTipper at 14:43 on 12/11/12

  • Profile image for mark1864

    Oh, we are getting rid of the council on Thursday 15th Nov, when we elect a mayor. And not a day too soon.


    Only about 24% of Bristol actually voted for a mayor and with several other cities voting to get rid of theirs back in May, is it such a good idea?. If you have read the booklet about it, which from your rant one assumes that you haven't, you'll find that the mayor will still be subject to the same checks and balances as a council leader. We live in a democracy after all. Under the old system, the council would elect a leader. However, the right wing press (Post included) deemed this to be undemocratic and so made a big fuss about getting a mayor like London. Mr Cameron agreed and so one will be elected shortly, but they won't be able to steamroll through things as you think. I think that in a few years time, Bristol will probably be voting to get rid of a mayor like everyone else. It's a bit like voting for a polical party to get into power and having another election for PM. The council will still be here on November 16.

    Anyway, back to congestion which is not caused by traffic lights, bus lanes or people on bikes. It's caused by too many cars.

    Traffic lights - invented to regulate the flow at junctions. Work fine at 3am in the morning but are wrongly blamed for congestion at 8am. Don't blame them, blame your desire to drive. It's too many cars that are the problem. Anyone recall the insanity around the old hotel near Temple Meads back in the late 80's ?. I do. No traffic lights - mass free-for-all with huge jams.

    Bus lanes -started to ensure that the buses could run on time without getting stuck in traffic congestion caused by rising car use (spot the theme emerging here??). If you are a single car occupant sitting in a jam to the office with your briefcase for company, wouldn't you be rather on the bus that's just gone past?. After all, do you really need half a ton of metal, glass and plastic to get you to your destination?. Said mass of metal will just sit in a parking bay all day!!.

    Cycling - green, efficient, low environmental impact, ideal for urban journeys, good for your health, virtually immune to traffic jams. Unfairly demonised by Post (they hate cyclists) and have to tolerate poor infrastructure. What is needed here is legislation for infrastructure investment as happened in Amsterdam in the 1970's:

    Still, with UK cycling winning at the Olympics and the Tour de France, it's on the up whereas car use in the UK is falling.So hopefully we're now at the tipping point.

    And finally, about that £1000 prize for parking offered by the ABD. Isn't finding more space for parking only going to encourage more cars to come into the city?. They should offer £1000 to keep cars out, not make congestion worse.

    By mark1864 at 13:38 on 12/11/12

  • Profile image for NoCorruption

    Stop the council's anti-car crusade. 98% of Bristolian families have a car - therefore its anti-Bristolian. And just caused more congestion. People prefer travelling by car. To get people to change you must offer a viable alternative.
    Bristol council has wasted a fortune of OUR money ( over the decades and achieved nothing, only making things worse. Smelly, expensive slow buses are not the modern solution to anything. The council calling a few second-hand buses a; 'Rapid Transport Network', is a sick joke, which only the ConLibs could come up with.
    Open up all the roads that are currently blocked off (they are the cause of bottlenecks and gridlock). Remove all obstructions from roads like traffic islands etc. Sack the council's incompetent road dept. Have a contractor bid for it, at half the current cost. Then they could properly tune the traffic lights, so they ease congestion rather than causing it (as they do at present).

    By NoCorruption at 12:55 on 12/11/12

  • Profile image for Bristol_First

    Get rid of the corrupt & incompetent Bristol council and its traffic congestion measures.

    I claim my £5,000 pound prize.

    Oh, we are getting rid of the council on Thursday 15th Nov, when we elect a mayor. And not a day too soon.


    By Bristol_First at 11:46 on 12/11/12

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