A Modest Proposal #3: Inner Loop Proposal

The Bristol Cycling Campaign is putting together a proposal to City Hall for a segregated loop around the city centre. The Inner Loop Cycleway will link the new and established radial routes and help cyclists safely negotiate the ‘tarmac collar’ of the city’s motor traffic dominated Inner Ring Road. There’s a map and key here.

The proposed route will be designed to the Dutch standard, sections of it already exist through earlier developments. What follows is a summary of our proposal.


 Centre – Queen Square – Brunel Mile – Temple Way – Bond St – St James Barton – Silver St (or Bridewell St) – Nelson St – Quay St.

Western extension: Marlborough St – Upper Maudlin St – Perry Rd – Park Row – Triangle – Jacobs Wells Rd – Anchor Rd.


Bristol has made good progress with its Cycle Greenways radiating out from the inner city towards the outer suburbs and the countryside – the first and still the most successful being the Bristol & Bath railway path. There are now half a dozen such radial leisure and commuter Greenways, all shared by cyclists and pedestrians. These are paralleled by additional signed cycle routes following approximately the main motor traffic roads. In addition, most of Bristol’s radial main roads have partial cycle lanes as a result especially of the Greater Bristol Bus Network programme.

These routes however, are not tied together as they approach, enter and cross the city centre. This crucial and focal gap in the cycleway and cycle route network presents itself as a problem in at least two ways. The city’s cycle routes are not perceived by the public as offering a network – rather, a set of isolated one-off routes. The city centre and its approaches are perceived by aspirant cyclists as a hazard, given the heavy traffic and factually poor record of incidents involving injury.

Arguably, the locus of the problem is not the city centre itself – which has a number of quiet routes and an increasing number of contraflow cycle lanes on one-way streets. Worse is the difficulty of connecting between cycleways and of crossing the Inner Ring Road. Particularly difficult for cyclists are the main river bridges and high-capacity roads including Temple Way, Bond St, Lewen’s Mead and the Centre itself. The approaches to Clifton and the Triangle experience similar problems.


An excellent opportunity has now arisen enabling a comprehensive solution. Put simply, it is an Inner Loop Cycleway paralleling the main Inner Ring Road and linking together all the radial Greenways and cycle routes. The opportunity arises because of the planned Bus Raid Transit (BRT) city centre loop (the bit we have fewer concerns with – Ed). This will be a bus priority route following this approximate alignment. Investment in cycleway infrastructure could and should parallel this public transport infrastructure improvement.

The BRT city centre loop plans at present make no concession to cyclists and is also actively removing some cycling infrastructure on Temple Way. It is therefore legitimate to request these plans be modified to include a measure of remedial treatment for cycling. These modifications and associated cycling investment legitimately could be made within the BRT budget.


This proposed investment should follow current Dutch-style ‘best practice’, as outlined at the national cycle infrastructure conference organised by the City Council in October 2012.

This practice involves creating segregated cycleways parallel to main traffic roads where these are also main cyclist desire lines. This situation reflects the BRT city centre loop alignment. Such cycleways should wherever possible be separate from pedestrian footways and may be one- or two-way. The route should be continuous around the city centre. Importantly, it should connect directly with each incoming radial Greenway and cycle-route.

The Inner Loop should also be designed to facilitate the crossing of the city centre Inner Ring Road and facilitate the radial cycle routes into favourable routes onward – into and across the city centre itself. Due to the different motor traffic characteristics experienced on most of the radial cycle routes, segregated cycleways may not be necessary there. However, where a radial cycle route follows a main motor traffic route, the segregation of the radial cycleway is again desirable.

To be useful, the Inner Loop Cycleway must be visible. It should therefore be surface- marked with cycle pictogram every 40 metres and be allocated a distinctive colour stripe to put beside each pictogram. Where the Inner Loop crosses another cycle-route, cyclist signposts may be appropriate. The Inner Loop itself should also be named, should appear on cycling maps and should be marketed and publicised in the local media when it is opened.

Some sections of the Inner Loop might be thought already to exist in something almost approaching a serviceable final form: possibly including Queen Square, and Nelson Street. However, it may be considered that the Inner Loop would benefit considerably by the creation wherever possible of segregated cycleways in these sections, in order to reduce conflict with the heavy peak pedestrian flows.

Other sections are already in initial planning stage within the Council – notably the Brunel Mile section along Portwall – and will have their own extant programme. We are already working on the detail of the design and any of you who would like to contribute to this are welcome to join our Infrastructure Action Group, which meets regularly (contact Secretary, p14).

A first draft report into the full Bristol Inner Loop Cycleway should be ready by summer 2013, although details can be brought forward as the need exists.

If the Council accepts that the Inner Loop should be built as an essential component of the BRT city centre loop, then its construction timing will necessarily be led by that BRT programme, unless a cycling infrastructure budget can be brought into alignment with it.

This article was first published in the Winter 2003 edition of the Bristol Cyclist.

What needs to be done to make the Inner Loop Cycleway a reality?

  1. Temple Back East – needs segregated cycleway.
  2. Include cycle crossing at existing pedestrian crossing on Temple Way.
  3. Temple Way – segregated cycleway within  Eastern footway.  The option of the other side of the road may be preferable, and involve less conflicting cross-traffic movements.
  4. Existing signals at Avon street –  bend cycleway Eastwards – raised table cycleway.
  5. Signalise crossing of Broad Plain – raised table cycleway.
  6. Cycle crossing across Old Market Street.
  7. Bond Street – segregated cycleway within  Eastern footway.  The option of the other side of the road may be preferable, and involve less conflicting cross-traffic movements.
  8. Cycle crossing at existing pedestrian crossing.
  9. Bend cycleway across signalised Cabot Circus Car Park exit.
  10. Route to Frome path on Newfoundland Street Southern footway.
  11. Cycle crossing at existing pedestrian crossings.
  12. Bond Street – segregated cycleway within  Northern footway.  The option of the other side of the road may be preferable, and involve less conflicting cross-traffic movements.
  13. Close mouth of Gloucester street.
  14. Bend cycleway at York street and car park entries.
  15. Bear Pit – option of new surface route too Marlborough Street, or use North Street Eastern and Western footway plus existing pedestrian crossing.
  16. Marlborough Street – segregated cycleway within Northern footway.  The option of the other side of the street involves more conflicting cross-movements including those into the Bus Station;  access to the Bus Station can be achieved from Lower Maudlin St.
  17. Raised table cycleway across Dighton Street and Marlborough Street at existing pedestrian crossings.
  18. Upper Maudlin Street- segregated cycleway on South side – reorganise parking.
  19. Signalised raised table crossing at Park Row.
  20. Park Row – segregated cycleway on South side – reorganise parking.
  21. Queens Road – Segregated cycleway within central reservation.
  22. Queens Road (Triangle North) – segregated cycleway on South side, or shared use within calmed shopping centre.
  23. Queens Road – Segregated cycleway within central reservation.
  24. Junction Queens Rd, Triangle West – raised table cycleway at existing pedestrian crossing.
  25. Triangle West, segregated cycleway on West side.
  26. Triangle South – segregated cycleway on North side- leading to raided table cycleway across triangle North, shared with pedestrians.
  27. Jacob’s Wells Road – Segregated cycleway on West side – reorganise parking.  The option of the other side of the road may be preferable, and involve less conflicting cross-traffic movements.
  28. Raised table crossing across Lower Clifton Hill.
  29. Constitution Hill and Gorse Lane – Raised table cycle and pedestrian crossings.
  30. Hotwell Road junction – cycle crossing at existing pedestrian crossings.
  31. Anchor Road – shared use of Southern footway.
  32. Drop down into Limekiln Rd, bypassing bus stop.
  33. Canon’s Way and Explore Lane junctions – Raised table cycleway crossing at signals
  34. Use frontage of @Bristol.
  35. Anchor Road/Centre – enter shared use Centre via shared Southern footway.
  36. Prince Street Junction, raised table cycleway at existing pedestrian crossing.
  37. Utilise outer walkways around Queens Square as shared cycleways – share existing informal pedestrian crossings at each corner.
  38. Existing segregated cycleway across Redcliffe Bridge.
  39. Redcliffe Street, raised table cycleway crossing.
  40. Raised table cycleway crossing at existing pedestrian crossing to Redcliffe Hill.  Segregated cycleway on widened Western footway of roundabout to Redcliffe Way West verge.
  41. Widened Portwall Lane/Brunel Mile with segregated cycleway.
  42. Junction with Temple Gate – cycleway at existing pedestrian crossings.
  43. Friary – segregated cycleway on Southern footway.