Sustrans have acquired funding from the Department for Transport to improve the busiest part of the popular Bristol and Bath railway off-road path, with the aim to prevent conflicts from arising between cyclists and pedestrians at the busiest times of day.
A 1.7 mile stretch between Trinity Street (the beginning of the path) and Clay Bottom has been identified as the section marked for improvement, and described as a "victim of its own success" due to the number of people using it during peak times, which can be up to 1,800 an hour.
James Cleeton of Sustrans says although they've been encouraging path users to 'share, respect and enjoy' with their One Path initiative, he admits physical changes would help to solve some of the issues: "We’ve spoken to over 250 people, either out on the Path, in community meetings, online or in specific user groups, to learn from them about what they need. This has included conversations with school communities, disability groups, older people groups, local community organisations, and walking and cycling campaign groups.
"We’ve heard that the excessive speed and close-passing of a handful of the people cycling on the path really does put others off using it. Some parents have even chosen to drive their children to school, instead of using the Path for that reason."
Cleeton says a number of suggestions have been put forward, including widening stretches of the path to enable segregation between cyclists and walkers and encouraging cyclists to find alternative routes of the busier sections; however the majority weren't calling for segregation, and as the Path represents "a much-valued traffic-free space", banning cyclists from some sections has been ruled out.
Cleeton added: "In the next couple of days, we’re holding more workshops with the community to talk to them about the ideas that have been coming out. We’re going to work with them to refine those design ideas so that we can start to develop some firmer designs. Should we ask people to adopt certain thinking while using the path, for example, everybody keep to the left? Maybe we ask people to ring their bells if they want to overtake.
"We will also invite scrutiny of designs from various people who have technical or ‘lived experience’ wisdom to offer. This will help us to further develop the designs for a path that will become ever more inclusive while remaining loved and cherished by the local community."
Do you use this section of the Bristol to Bath path, and if so what do you think should be done to improve it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments...
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.