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Hundreds of cycling Santas take to new £45m Bristol link road before it's opened to traffic in New Year

Contractors held mass participation event to say "thank you" to locals...

Hundreds of people dressed in Santa outfits took to the new South Bristol Link road on their bikes on Sunday ahead of its official opening after Christmas.

The mass participation ride was organised by contractors Alun Griffiths as a “thank you” to local residents, says the website Better By Bike, launched to mark Bristol’s designation as the UK’s first “Cycling City” under a government scheme in 2008.

The ride took place on Sunday on a 4.5km section of the road from the Gatehouse Centre in Bishopsworth, Bristol to the junction with the A370 in North Somerset.

The route continued for a further kilometre to Ashton Court, with mince pies and other refreshments offered to participants on the family-friendly ride on traffic-free roads, and a Welsh male voice choir providing entertainment.

While the cycle path alongside the road is open now, the main carriageway where the cycling Santas rode today will be closed to motor vehicles until the New Year.

It was built by Alun Griffiths Contractors, whose regional project manager, Simon Dunn, told BBC News: "It'll make it easier for the traffic to get to the airport.

"The last thing we want to do is open the road just before Christmas and there are any concerns or any issues," said Mr Dunn

"The sensible thing to do is to leave it until January, do the safety checks and then open it."

But Tony Dyer, prospective Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bristol South, questioned why the £45 million road was built at all.

He said: "Part of it goes through green belt and we're not convinced it's going to make a major difference to traffic.

"It will work for a small section of it but our other concern is how it's going to drive more demand for yet more roads."

> 2016 Christmas Gifts for Cyclists – Last Minute Gifts

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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