Labour councillor says cyclists are 'often the biggest threat to pedestrians'

Fabian Breckels said that the Bristol Cycling Campaign were "arrogant and dismissive"

Bristol cycling
The peloton crosses the Clifton Suspension Bridge during the 2016 Tour of Britain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A Labour councillor in Bristol has said that cyclists "are often the biggest threat to pedestrians".

Fabian Breckels was responding to a local news article (opens in new tab) which detailed criticism of the Labour mayor of Bristol's response to a petition calling for safer cycling in the city.

He initially wrote on Facebook (opens in new tab), under the Bristol 24/7 post: “If the Bristol Cycling Campaign were not so arrogant and dismissive of other road users, perhaps the Council would listen to them more. Cyclists, and scooter users, are often the biggest threat to pedestrians.”

This was later edited to: "If the Bristol Cycling Campaign were not so arrogant and dismissive of other road users, perhaps the Council would listen to them more. Inconsiderate cyclists and scooter users can pose a real threat to pedestrians. 

"I'm often having to get out of their way in shares spaces and had near misses, as has my other half and friends of ours."

According to a 2020 report (opens in new tab) by the parliamentary advisory council for transport safety, which used Department for Transport numbers, “pedal cyclists and small motorcycles were involved in very few collisions where pedestrians were killed”. In 2019, five pedestrian deaths involved a bicycle. Meanwhile, 48 cyclists and 305 pedestrians were killed by cars.

>>> Kidnap threats, accidents and bad roads - CW readers on the things that have put them off riding

Bristol Cycling Campaign has been calling for the mayor to complete and publish an updated transport plan that it hopes will “include the creation of a comprehensive network of protected cycle lanes connecting all parts of the city”.

To that end, it started a petition that gained 3,859 signatures, which argued: "Currently there is no plan for cycling despite the 2019 Bristol Transport Strategy committing to the production of an updated Cycling Strategy."

However, this resulted in a blog post by the mayor (opens in new tab), Rees, which was deemed as the official response.

In it, he wrote that Bristol “has a clear transport hierarchy which prioritises pedestrians and then cyclists”.

It also outlined how the council’s Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (opens in new tab)includes plans and routes which will help “enable the growth of cycling amongst more disadvantaged communities”.

It continues: “Our driver for the LCWIP proposals have been the clear disparity of cycling journeys to work between wealthier and more deprived areas of the city.

“In addition to the above all developments and infrastructure plans, we want to maximise the inclusion of safe cycling with segregation where possible.”

“The council constitution requires a specific response to a petition,” shadow cabinet member, David Wilcox, told Bristol 24/7 in response. “This blog doesn’t qualify as a response and doesn’t address the issues.”

Bristol 24/7 reported (opens in new tab) that Bristol Cycling Campaign’s Tom Swithinbank replied to Breckels on Monday: “It’s unfortunate you feel bikes/scooters are the threat to pedestrians, evidence says that’s not the case. Do have a look at the East Bristol consultation, you’ll see that it’s vehicle danger that is the biggest concern to Bristol residents.”

Michelle Grace wrote: “I can’t breathe due to vehicle pollution. I cycle. I’ve never been a threat to any pedestrian. Your response is not based on reality.”

Cycling Weekly has contacted Councillor Breckels for a response.

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.