South Bristol Link Road – May 2016 update

We are pleased that things are moving on the final detailed stage of designing the cycleway that will run alongside the new South Bristol Link Road. This has been a long running issue that we’ve worked on for many years. Overall the new road will cause more problems for Bristol and for cycling than it will cure but it’s going to happen so we want to make sure that provision for cycling is a good as it can be. Local members have been reviewing the plans and Bishopsworth Councillor Richard Eddy (‘a keen cyclist’ he says) has also been on the case. The issue is over how to thread the cycleway past the drives, businesses and side roads in the area.
Our view is:
1. We wouldn’t be starting from here. Of course.
2. The section in question is ‘Whitchurch Road’,  the stretch outside Cater Park. On this section 5.3.10 PLAN AND PROFILE 10 OF 10 from the planning application 13/P/1204/F2
3. The issues that Cllr Eddy highlights are real. But probably not significantly detrimental to cycling, and manageable by design detailing. They may well be inconvenient to some motor vehicle use if cycling volumes increase, but this can’t be avoided and is not likely to be significant. Proper Space for Cycling design would have the path set back from the junction to allow waiting space for a vehicle. A good example is Baldwin St / Queen Charlotte St in the centre, and in the guide It doesn’t look like this is par of the plans, or if there would be space.
4. The argument about whether there should be a cycle track on the north or the south is spurious. There will and should be cycling on BOTH sides regardless of one being labelled as a footway. People will take the most direct and convenient routes. As evidenced by the numbers who still cycle on the east side of Hartcliffe Way despite the 2-way protected cycle path on the west. It is important that if there is only to be one properly designed path at this stage then it should be the one that provides best continuity. The design should include ‘cycle-proofing’ for a future upgrade.  For access to Cater Park the north side cycle path is most useful.
5. Attached is an extract from an email chain that includes a statement from Steve Riley on 16th Feb as follows. BCyC would have been among those ‘widely criticising’ additional crossings.

My understanding of the meeting is to discuss the shared-use path with the businesses in front of whom it will pass, and understand their loading and other requirements so as best to accommodate them.  The shared-use path being on the north side of SBL is a key part of the scheme that was given planning permission in 2013, and we are not intending to change this.  During the pre-app consultation in 2012, just before my involvement in the project, the plan at the time for the shared-use path to cross the road at one point was widely criticised and resulted in the decision we made to ensure this was changed.  Many cyclists may choose to use Whitland Road as a lighter trafficked route, but the SBL proposal to include a shared-use path on the north side will remain, ensuring a 4.5km segregated route all the way from Festival Way to Crox Bottom.

It should be borne in mind that there will be a 3m wide median strip between the two lanes of traffic along Whitchurch Lane, giving traffic turning right into businesses here time to pause before turning without blocking the road.  The purpose of this afternoon’s meeting is to understand whether any other minor amendments, for example to verge widths or locations, may be possible.

In conclusion, we don’t think BCyC would support Cllr Eddy’s assessment of the risks, or his proposal to change the route with requirement for additional crossings. We would support a review of the detailing of how to provide continuity for the cycle path across the side junctions and business frontages using best practice ‘Triple A’ design for All Ages and Abilities.