The centre of Bristol is set to change in the coming months with pedestrianisation schemes soon to be implemented in the Old City, on Bristol Bridge, and on King Street among others.
We can all now look forward to improved air quality, safer walking and cycling routes, and more space to enjoy our city centre!
The response on social media so far seems to show overwhelming support for these changes. After all, what’s more Bristolian than enjoying a drink outdoors on King Street?
Many people have been asking, what next? Why stop there?
The pedestrian schemes announced so far will be delivered using the first “tranche” of Covid-19 related emergency funding set aside by the Department for Transport (DfT). Fortunately there’s a second tranche of this emergency funding still up for grabs and Bristol City Council, as part of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), must submit it’s bid for this funding by the end of July 2020.
We don’t currently know what pedestrianisation schemes the council will put forward to secure their share of the second tranche of funding, but we do know that the DfT funding is “use it or lose it” and reserved for high impact schemes – so we are expecting some bold announcements from the council over the coming weeks!
While we don’t know which schemes the council will put forward for the next round of funding, in some cases we can take a pretty good guess. There are many streets in Bristol which are crying out for pedestrianisation, so to help the council out, we’ve highlighted just a few that stand out as obvious choices, from the centre to the suburbs.
Prince Street Bridge, city centre
The closure of Bristol Bridge and Baldwin Street to through traffic has made the vehicle route over Princes Street Bridge effectively redundant with it now providing no beneficial through route to vehicles.
On top of this, traffic counts last year showed 14 times as many pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge than vehicles, so it’s clear that this change is long overdue.
Appropriate access to the Queen Square area would still be provided by the Bascule Bridge from Redcliffe Way. This one really is a no brainer!
Park Street, city centre
With Bristol Bridge and Baldwin Street now closed to through-traffic, Park Street now offers no real beneficial through route for traffic, so why should the traffic lanes still take up most of the space?
For those who have lived in Bristol for many years, it has been sad to see the gradual decline of Park Street and it really needs a shot in the arm. So, what if we pedestrianise the whole street, except for buses and bikes, and instead of traffic and noise we can have outdoor seating, trees and plants, play space for children and space for outdoor events and markets?
Mina Road, St Werburgh’s
Ask anyone in St Werburgh’s what they’d most like to change about their area and they are likely to tell you they want to get rid of the rat-running through-traffic! The perverse situation is that most of the traffic on Mina Road, which is the heart of St Werburgh’s, is not from locals but from non-locals driving back and forth to the M32.
So, why don’t we pedestrianise Mina Road and the through traffic will reroute itself via more appropriate roads without any significant impact on journey times?
Princess Victoria Street, Clifton
Another high street with great potential but unfortunately with a streetscape dominated by cars and traffic. Most people enjoy Clifton Village on foot so why shouldn’t the allocation of road space reflect that? That’s a little less space for cars, a lot more space for outdoor seating, trees and cycle parking.
There is also now a wealth of evidence to show that pedestrianisation increases footfall on high streets so there’s something to be gained for everyone here including local businesses.
Cotham Hill, Cotham
Cotham Hill is a bustling and charming row of shops and cafes. Unfortunately, it lacks any public outdoor space for people to eat and drink and enjoy the atmosphere. The answer, of course, is pedestrianisation!
Cromwell Road, the Arches
Fast moving vehicles from Gloucester Road make this a dangerous junction for pedestrians and cyclists. If Cromwell Road was pedestrianised where it meets Gloucester Road, it would improve safety and create a pleasant environment with outdoor seating, cycle parking and more greenery.
Redcatch Road, Knowle
With Broadwalk Shopping Centre due to be redeveloped over the coming years, what better time to improve the walking and cycling environment in the area. Could a pedestrianisation scheme on Redcatch Road, where it meets the A37/Wells Road, provide safer routes and an enhanced public space with opportunities for outdoor seating and more trees?
Wade Street, St Jude’s
It’s another paradox that the residents who cause the least traffic and pollution often suffer the worst effects of it. This is certainly true in St Jude’s and Old Market where, despite car ownership levels being amongst the lowest in the city, residents are surrounded on all sides by busy A-roads and even worse have to tolerate rat-runs between said A-roads!
Wade Street is perhaps the worst example of a completely unnecessary route which causes pollution, splits communities in half and compromises the safety of residents. A simple pedestrianisation scheme at the Frome River and Frome Valley Greenway would do the trick.
Beaufort Road, St George
Beaufort Road has been identified as a key walking and cycling route in the Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan but it suffers from rat-running non-local traffic. What better way to provide a safe walking and cycling route than preventing this through traffic with pedestrianisation, while maintaining access to local residents?
Dean Lane, Southville
Dean Lane has also been identified as a key walking and cycling route in the Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan but also suffers from rat-running non-local traffic. What if we prevent through-traffic, but maintain access for local residents, creating a safer and more pleasant walking and cycling route as a result?
St Luke’s Road, Totterdown
Anyone who lives south of the river will know how much of a struggle getting to the centre on foot or on bike can be. It’s not just the quality of the connections over the New Cut though, it’s how to get there in the first place!
The Langton Street Bridge is one of the nicer crossings but the approach on St Luke’s Road is anything but, with the road being a popular rat run by non-locals. What if we pedestrianised this street to provide fresher air for park users, improved safety for local families, and an improved walking and cycling route towards the centre?
Broad Plain, Old Market
The Bristol to Bath Railway Path is arguably the jewel in the crown of Bristol’s otherwise patchy active travel network. But what happens as you approach Temple Way on this route by the Gardiner Haskins building? That’s right, you head straight into a stream of fast moving traffic!
With this whole area due to be redeveloped over the coming years, it seems like another no brainer to pedestrianise this short section of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path and transform Broad Plain from traffic dominated nothingness into an attractive public square.
Redcliffe Street, city centre
Anyone who walks or cycles along the “Brunel Mile” on Redcliffe Way will understand the issues caused by a heavy stream of rat-running traffic entering and exiting the Redcliffe Way roundabout onto Redcliffe Street.
On any given day there are backed up cars in both directions polluting the air, and more often than not you’ll see vehicles accelerating towards the zebra crossing to try and “beat” pedestrians and cyclists to it. There’s no reason why vehicles should be rat-running through Redcliffe when Redcliffe Way and Temple Way go around the outside instead!
We have arrived at a crossroads for Bristol where we can either accept illegal levels of air pollution, unsafe walking and cycling routes, and traffic dominated streetscapes, or we can seize the moment and start to turn Bristol into the green, healthy and liveable place it desperately wants to be.
Pedestrianisation of the locations identified would be a fantastic start and we look forward to seeing these schemes, and many more, supported by the council for the next round of DfT funding.
Bristol Cycling Campaign want to make cycling in the city easier for everyone, by pressing for inclusive cycling and policy changes.
Main image: LDA Design
Read more: King Street set to be pedestrianised