The Bristol Cycle Expressway Initiative

Could this abandoned rail bridge by Stapleton Rd. station one day connect communities long divided by the M32?

Could this abandoned rail bridge by Stapleton Rd. station one day connect communities long divided by the M32?

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.

Eastside Roots Celebrates Reclaiming Derelict Railroad Land Last Sunday

Eastside Roots Celebrates Reclamation of Derelict Railroad Land Last Sunday

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

Designing intelligent urban transport systems ain't rocket science.....

The Fool Monty:   Designing intelligent urban transport systems ain’t rocket science…

9 responses to “The Bristol Cycle Expressway Initiative

  1. Sounds AMAZING!!! It sounds so good that it mystifies me that it doesn’t already exist! Count me in for helping out 🙂

  2. It certainly makes sense to make better use of the disused or underused rail infrastructure in urban areas, especially on the Clifton – Montpelier section of the Severn Beach line. And from Stapleton Road you only need to extend a little further south to link up with the Railway Path at Lawrence Hill.

    But there would be some serious engineering issues involved and Bristol Council might get cold feet at the prospect of going beyond painting white lines on the roads. But at least they can’t claim lack of funds as an excuse, as they always have done in the past.

  3. hooray! cycling from where I live (Stapleton) to anywhere the other side of the M32 is horrible. I don’t go there by bike but would leave the car at home and cycle if there were a good route to Redland/Clifton/Montpelier

  4. Fingers crossed. I have often noticed the strips of unused land between Lawrence Hill and Montpelier and wondered what could make a pedestrian/bike route possible. Thanks Josh for bringing this terrific idea forward for discussion.
    Fingers crossed 😀

  5. Cyclists are not noted for their intelligence I know but repeat after me….

    Railways R 4 trains

    Pavements R 4 pedestrians

    Roads R 4 cyclists and cars.

    Got it?

  6. Yeah cyclists like…….ummmmm……let me see…….like…..uhhhhh……. ALBERT EINSTEIN!!??!!

    Mr. Bowring, the only thing I can say is that you either:

    a) live a very rigid, segregated life


    b) you are trying to throw cold water on a proposal that you fear will harm your beloved butterflies.

    If it is the latter, let me tell you I share the love. But the fact is- unless we get our collective car addiction under control- all bets are off for the butterflies, the newts, the foxes, and the lesser yellow underwing. Yes even the long-tailed tits will be tits up I’m afraid, unless we can figure out a way to get around without wrecking our own atmosphere.

    Mr. Wild Monty, please think before you reject out of hand proposals to use historic railway lines to provide safe habitat and migration routes for human beings and their young.

    After all, we may be the mammal most in need of protection.

  7. Some stuff on the St Werburghs forum re. Josh’s initiative for info:

  8. Congrats on pushing this idea forward, and especially on good coverage in today’s Evening Post. Best of Luck !
    Just adding some info re. the background on this. The suggestion of a green bridge in this ‘zone’ has been floating about for a while – probably first discussed when Bristol was applying for City of Culture. Later it was promoted, by the local art group NOVA, and was one of the 200 Ideas for Bristol, published in 2006. Since then the local parks group – Friends of Fox Park – have made some explorations and suggestions to Cycling City.
    Great to see the investigations progressing.

    have a look at for a little snippet on this….


  9. Des – what’s the problem? Surely we decide what what is for whom?

    Apart from lots of obviois linking-things-together-and making using the car even less worthwhile, this creaters a traffic free running route between Montpelier, the Frome valley (probably), and the Bristol-Bath cycleway.

    Bring it on.

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