It's two years since Bristol-based sustainable transport charity Sustrans won a TV vote to bring money from the Big Lottery Fund to 79 local communities via its Connect 2 schemes. Since then, one of those schemes - the proposed route running from Bristol City Centre, through Long Ashton and Flax Bourton to Nailsea - also called The Festival Way - has, says Sustrans, been quietly building momentum and achieving key goals in order for this safer and greener route into North Somerset to become a reality.
Adrian Roper, Sustrans Regional Director for the South Westsaid said: “It may seem that progress has been slow to date but this is the nature of such a complex and large scale project - planning permissions and agreements need to be in place and traffic regulation orders have to be processed.
"However, many of these processes for this huge route are in place and it will not be long before we can visually see this greener and safer route take shape across North Somerset."
Headway has been made in overcoming a major gap in the public footpath network in these areas so residents can do everyday journeys by foot or bike. Although a lot of behind the scenes processes are difficult to visualise, much of the groundwork already in place has involved land negotiations, agreements between authorities, planning permissions, traffic orders, and of course it has been important to ensure community engagement at each stage so the route can give the best and most wanted options to the people who will benefit from it.
A Hotwells and Clifton sub-group has been set up and is made up of local residents. Its role will be to establish the best options for routesin this area, ensuring safer ways for people travelling to school or work throughout the day over this difficult system of roads.
A key change in the Cumberland Basin section of the scheme has been to shift focus from the Brunel Swivel Bridge and onto ways for the route to cross the floating harbour. This will make the seemingly impenetrable Brunel Way Gyratory much easier to tackle on foot or by bike and will make Ashton Court and the UWE campus far easier to access, aqnd should be finished inext Spring.
Bristol City Council is working on providing a route from a new traffic signal crossing of Clanage Road to the gates of Ashton Court on Kennel Lodge Road. An option is also being considered to expand a link to the Park & Ride and David Lloyd Centre
As the route then heads up to Nailsea, the Town Council want to ensure that the Golden Valley Bridleway is improved
Jon Usher, Senior Project Officer, Bristol City Council said: "A substantial amount of work has gone into progressing the Connect2scheme over the last 12 months, and hopefully people's patience will be rewarded once they get to walk or cycle on the new routes being built now and inJanuary."
And Jonathan Gall, Cycling Officer, North Somerset Council, added: “We have already seen a 17% increase in use of the Flax Bourton Greenway in the past 12 months. We are confident that even more people will reduce their car use in favour of walking or cycling as we see the route develop over the next couple of years."