Cyclists vs drivers in Bristol’s battle of petitions

Calls for improvements to notorious Gloucester Road

Bristol’s Gloucester Road, identified as one of the most dangerous commuter routes by cycling charity Sustrans, is the subject of two rival petitions, one calling for the lifting of parking restrictions, the other demanding a bike lane along the length of the road.

According to the Bristol Evening Post, Gloucester Road is the scene of confrontations between road users at peak periods. Its bike lanes are intermittent, and some drivers say it needs more parking spaces.

A petition by cyclist Jorge Sved calls for a continuous cycle lane along the full length of Gloucester Road.

“Why are there cycle lanes only on some portions of the Gloucester Road?” he says in a petition addressed to Bristol City Council.

The council, he says, should “make them continuous all the way from Zetland Rd to the British Aerospace roundabout.”

“Eventually there should be fully segregated cycle lanes on this route used by hundreds of cyclists every day. Until then, at least paint cycle lanes to stop motor vehicles from driving near the pavement forcing cyclists to weave between cars slowing down their progress and increasing the risk of injury.”

But city councillor Dr David Willingham wants parking restrictions lifted at peak times to make it easier for drivers to get to shops on Gloucester Road.

His petition calls for the council to remove restrictions on parking bays that don’t obstruct traffic lanes, and bring in ‘tidal’ parking rules so that drivers can park on the outbound side of the road in the morning peak, and the inbound side in the evening.

He told the Post: "Parking your car in some of the spaces which are currently restricted takes no longer than a few seconds.

"When you consider that some junctions on Gloucester Road may be at as much as 143 per cent capacity during peak times, it is not going to change the speed of the traffic.

"It will make no difference to congestion but will bring parking spaces back into use – for the benefit of the traders."

However, he concedes that cycle lanes the full-length of Gloucester Road and fewer parking restrictions are not compatible.

"As a cyclist, I support making a safe cycling route into town. I don't think continuous lanes are possible all the way but I also don't think my petition would affect the safety of cyclists," he said.

The cycle lane petition currently has 182 signatures and can be found at http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/epetition_core/community/petition/2519.

The parking petition has 103 signatures and is at http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/epetition_core/view/glosrdparking

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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