Every day, thousands of Bristolians fail to consider the bicycle for their everyday transport because of fear of traffic and trepidation at the thought of pedalling up Bristol’s hills. Yet there exists a series of level, direct, and traffic-free routes that connect many of Bristol’s neighbourhoods. These are the currently neglected strips of land that run along our urban rail network- that with proper planning and funding that have the potential of being transformed into a 21st century walking and cycling expressway network.
Imagine being able to ride from Whiteladies Rd. in Clifton through Redland, across the famous Gloucester Rd. arches, through Montpelier, St. Werburgh’s, gliding safely across the M32, through Easton and it’s incredible new Eastside Roots Community Garden Centre, and finally arriving at Temple Meads station, without leaving a flat paved pathway, safely separated from the passenger rail line by a fence. Imagine that the Bristol-Bath pathway wasn’t just the solitary jewel that it is now, but a section of a complete traffic-free cycle path network for Bristol. Such a network would enable safe, enjoyable, and direct bicycling and walking journeys to popular destinations such as UWE’s Frenchay campus, Gloucester Rd., and Clifton, without ever having to mix with motor vehicles or Bristol’s notorious diesel buses.
The concept of bicycles, pedestrians and trains safely sharing the same corridor is well established, with examples as near as the Bitton section of the Bristol-Bath path and the section of pathway through the St. Werburgh’s allotments. Opening up the rail line for non-motorised traffic would not only maximise use of a valuable transport resource already in public ownership, it could also improve accessibility to and boost ridership on our urban rail network, all while relieving stress on our overcrowded roadway network.
If you think that current proposals for Bristol as a cycling city don’t go nearly far enough- that it would be a serious oversight to ignore these valuable rights-of-way while carbon neutral travellers continue to suffer dangerous, polluted, and gridlocked conditions on our roadways (or even worse suffer poor health from inactivity)- if you think that Bristol’s citizens deserve their own dedicated and well-designed pathways through our city, instead of just the crumbs off the table of the fossil fuelled feast- then lend your support to the Bristol Cycle Expressway Network Initiative. Now, with £22 million available to make Bristol a Cycle City we can be proud of, let’s not waste this opportunity with more badly designed cycle projects. The time for a Cycle Expressway Network in Bristol is now!
Though there is no doubt that there are significant engineering issues to overcome, we are asking the council to seriously consider the proposal, undertaking a feasibility study as soon as possible, and identifying a first phase for implementation with Cycle City money, potentially from Stapleton Rd. to Redland stations.
If you are interested in being involved with this campaign, please send an e-mail to Joshua Hart at email@example.com
The Fool Monty: Designing intelligent urban transport systems ain’t rocket science…