Sustrans has unveiled major changes to a two-mile section of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path aimed at making the route safer and more accessible for users.
Detailed plans of the redesign of the section of the route between Trinity Street and Clay Bottom in east Bristol have been published on the sustainable transport charity’s website and follow two years of consultation with path users and other stakeholders.
The main reasons for the changes are separation of pedestrians and cyclists at busy sections and improving visibility following a wave of recent attacks.
New separate access points to the path will also be introduced, with most of the existing ones on the stretch very narrow, and coloured paving will be used in places to more clearly delineate parts of the path for people on bikes or on foot.
Besides providing better visibility at some points, including through removing trees, the project will also see separate paths created for cyclists and pedestrians in what is known as the ‘Clay Bottom wiggle’ (pictured above).
In all, some 19 trees will be removed to increase visibility and improve access – although Sustrans says that it will be planting 250 new ones as part of the scheme, as well as sponsoring the planting of a new area of woodland by One Tree Per Child Bristol.
The project is anticipated to cost £1.1 million and will be financed by the Department for Transport under Sustrans’ Paths for Everyone initiative.
While the works are being carried out, Bristol City Council will be pruning back trees and bushes and cutting undergrowth.
Quoted on Bristol 24/7, James Cleeton, South of England director at the Bristol-based charity, said: “The designs we are sharing today reflect the input of a large number of people, ranging from families taking their children to school, to people using the path to cycle to work, to community groups using the space, and those looking to get out in nature in this otherwise very urban part of the city, to name just a few.
“With so many people using the path in so many different ways, creating a balanced design that improves things for everyone has been a big challenge.
“Our hope is that this redesigned section of path is one that will now be far more inclusive, accessible and enjoyable for the many types of uses, now and in the future.”
Councillor Kye Dudd, Bristol City Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “The path is an important part of the city’s green transport infrastructure as well as a route enjoyed by families throughout the year.
“We recognise that work needs to be done to improve the path and ensure it can continue to serve the community in so many different ways. We have worked closely with local residents, and people who use the path regularly, to come up with these plans and to make sure the right changes are made.
“One of the biggest issues raised during the engagement was safety, so we are going to make areas of the path more visible,” he added. “We will also be widening the path in areas, to make more room for everyone to be able to enjoy the space.”
One regular user of the path is road.cc editor Jack Sexty, who lives near the start of the route in Bristol and uses it to get to the office in Bath.
“For someone like me who just gets on at the start and goes all the way through that section, the widening will be most welcomed,” he said.
“However, I reckon some might say the changes don’t go far enough, and that a total separation of pedestrians and cyclists would be better.”
He described the planned removal of bollards that regularly create a bottleneck at the St Philip’s Causeway underpass as “a godsend,” adding that “you can just about get two road bikes through the middle, but not mountain or city bikes.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.