News / cycling

Plans for accessible paths to transform the Downs

By martin booth, Monday Aug 10, 2020

Accessible paths could be built and traffic calming introduced on the Downs to make it a more pleasant place for all.

The Downs Loop is a proposed new route of just over two miles which would follow Rockleaze and Downleaze, Circular Road, Ladies Mile and part of Stoke Road.

The paths would be designed to improve access for everyone including people in wheelchairs, those pushing buggies and riding bicycles.

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Priority would not be given to those on bikes with the paths also designed to fit sensitively within the historic surroundings.

Proposals also see the introduction of a 20mph zone and physical traffic calming measures to the area, with the aim of changing the feel of Circular Road from being a through-route to becoming an access route to the Downs.

Cycle Sunday founder Vicki Cracknell is one of the people campaigning for the introduction of the Downs Loop.

She told Bristol24/7: “Over the years, it’s been frustrating to see certain people excluded from enjoying the Downs. In particular, wheelchair users and children on bikes. With over 400 acres of beautiful, flat parkland, there is space for all of us.

“I think we sometimes pigeon-hole people as motorists or pedestrians or cyclists but actually many of us use some or all of these methods to get around. For example, on the Downs people become pedestrians once they park their cars.

“We are looking for a solution to an access problem and we hope that people from all over Bristol will fill in our public consultation to share their views on our proposal. The Downs are after all, for all of us across the city.”

The proposed raised crossing at the junction of Ladies Mile and Stoke Road, before and after – image: Downs Loop

The path alongside Circular Road, Rockleaze and Downleaze, before and after – image: Downs Loop

The scheme is designed to increase access to the Downs for a number of user groups, providing new improved paths for those who are unable to walk over the grass.

A zebra crossing near the water tower will help link up the Downs for pedestrians and be of benefit to everyone wanting to cross Stoke Road.

For those that run on the Downs, the first 500m to the junction with Ivywell Road will be the main change as the proposals include a new path over the heavily eroded desire line there to provide an even, all-weather surface.

The Downs Loop is a proposed new route of just over two miles around the western area of the Downs – map: Downs Loop

The Downs Loop proposal has been developed by Cycle Sunday working with Greenways and Cycleroutes, with the Downs Committee unanimously agreeing that the proposals are taken to a public consultation.

Bristol City Council is not being asked to pay for the construction of the Downs Loop, with money for its possible future construction raised via statutory bodies, charitable funds and crowdfunding.

A community engagement exercise has now begun and runs until September 30. For more information, visit

Cycle Sunday founder Vicki Cracknell is one of the people behind the proposed Downs Loop – photo by Martin Booth

Main photo and video by Martin Booth

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