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Sustrans blames thefts and vandalism for slowing progress on Bristol and Bath Railway Path works

"We are working with the police on this matter": Diversion signs and metal fencing restricting access have been pulled down in the past week, reopening sections of closed path to the public...

Theft and vandalism of "a significant number of signs and fencing" has slowed progress on changes to a two-mile section of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, Sustrans has said.

Plans for the section between Trinity Street and Clay Bottom, in east Bristol, were published last year, and will see a separation of pedestrians and cyclists at busy sections and improved visibility following a wave of attacks in 2021.

> Sustrans unveils major changes to section of Bristol & Bath Railway Path

However, Sustrans — the cycling charity leading the redevelopment — is "working with the police" after thefts and vandalism left "no signage in place at two locations, and a lot of damage to be repaired".

The result of the vandalism was confusion amongst path users, with Bristol Live reporting a section of the route, between Easton Community Centre and Johnsons Lane being used by cyclists and pedestrians last week despite officially being closed.

Thefts of signs over the bank holiday weekend meant riders were missing the diversion and encountering a barrier at the Johnsons Lane exit.

On Tuesday 3 May, people were reportedly seen carrying bikes over a steep hill and making their way through a small gap at the end of the fence. The next day, a metal fence, restricting access to the path while works are underway, was pulled down.

The ripped out fencing was replaced by plastic barriers on Friday 6 May, but signage detailing the diversion route has yet to be reinstated.

A spokesperson for Sustrans told the online news outlet that the damage was frustrating, and confirmed "we are working with the police on this matter".

"Unfortunately, over the weekend a significant number of signs were taken from the site and fencing was vandalised and stolen. This left no signage in place at two locations, and a lot of damage to be repaired. We are working with the police on this matter," the spokesperson said.

"We have been putting every effort into minimising the impact on people using the route. Available signage was redeployed as soon as possible to fill gaps, and replacement signs have been urgently ordered to bring us back up to a full quota.

"Time spent dealing with thefts and vandalism has unfortunately reduced construction progress this week. The diversion route uses the crossing point on Devon Road, which was installed in 2019. However, following recent feedback we have put up additional signage to raise awareness of people crossing here during the works.

"We are working with the contractor to re-open the stretch of Railway Path near Devon Road as soon as possible. The website has been regularly updated throughout the works, making sure the current and upcoming closure and diversion information is available online throughout."

Sustrans' plans for the route includes new access points, with most of the existing ones on the stretch being 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.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path Clay Bottom Wiggle proposed design (via Sustrans).PNG

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.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago

I never wanted to believe that my next door neighbour was stealing from his Sustrans job, but when I looked over the garden fence, all the signs were there

peted76 replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago

I have a mate who does maintenance work on television transmitter towers, some of which are more than 300 feet high. He once told me that he doesn't always wear a safety harness when climbing. I don't think he grasps the gravity of the situation.

HollisJ | 2 years ago

It's frustrating, but hardly a surprise either.

Imagine closing a two mile section of the A4 (basically the car equivalent of getting from Bristol to bath and vice versa) and expecting people to circumnavigate around it on side streets and country roads. There would be a huge outcry!

Yet remove the same major arterial route for cyclists and we're expected to find our way round on dangerous roads, looking for signage that's normally never there, or badly implemented.

I, for one, use that route when I'm hauling my kids in our chariot as it's the only safe way of me accessing parts of neighbouring Bristol and bath, as there's literally no safe infra that can take me from my house to the detours to get on. It's a nightmare.

So when I noticed on that bank holiday weekend that some of the fencing had been removed to give people access (there was no work taking place), I welcomed it. As far as I can tell, the path is wide enough to allow single file traffic to get through while works take place (which is what they would have to do on the road).

visionset replied to HollisJ | 2 years ago
1 like

H&S amongst a melee of other inefficiencies of modern life, brings the country to its knees.

Hirsute replied to visionset | 2 years ago

If you look at the HSE website you will see a whole section of myths addressed. The main point being that H&S was used when the reality is that the company does not want to provide a service but does not want to say this.

Who needs H&S anyway ?


mdavidford replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
1 like

Yeah, but they stopped busting myths in 2018, so obviously they've been bringing the country to its knees since then.

[Incidentally, here's a bit of bicycle-related punnery for you.]

Hirsute replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago

They had to stop the myths from 2019 onward due to H&S reasons.


Hirsute replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
1 like

Got this back from HSE

"HSE took the decision to close the Challenge Panel at the end of August 2021, but the pages haven’t been updated yet to reflect this.  This update is in the process of taking place."

chrisonabike replied to visionset | 2 years ago
1 like

Yeah!  I'd like to see some of the snowflakes of today up chimneys at 10 years old.  That'd buck 'em up and stiffen a few spines.  (Obviously the ones that didn't get scrotal cancer of course).  And now they're even trying to get fishermen to wear PPE at sea - ridiculous!

visionset replied to HollisJ | 2 years ago

Should probably be renamed, you ain't sueing me box ticking exercise, but that's a bit of a mouthful.

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