A key cycle lane in Bristol is set to be scrapped because the council claims it causes flooding – with opposition councillors and environmental campaigners in response highlighting longstanding issues regarding blocked drains as the real cause of the problem.
Vassili Papastavrou, secretary of the Bristol Tree Forum, told road.cc that he had “never heard of a cycle lane causing flooding before,” and suggested that “it might be a world first.”
He raised concerns over the potential scrapping of the cycle lane on Whiteladies Road in a lengthy thread on Twitter last week.
The pavement is already wide. Do they want to injure/kill key hospital workers by forcing them into a narrowed carriageway? @David_on_a_bike
— Vassili (@VassiliPapa) May 15, 2022
It should be remember that this offering is from the BCC team that bring you this---- one of the main crossing points between Clifton and The Downs, conveniently situated in the middle of a junction. The traffic island is now obliterated following a collision pic.twitter.com/5LK2H5URn9
— Vassili (@VassiliPapa) May 16, 2022
As you come down Whiteladies Road, all the signs announcing the plan to remove the cycle lane point at the pavement. So cyclists wouldn't even see them. Accident, or design, it puts the con in this consultation.
— Vassili (@VassiliPapa) May 16, 2022
According to the Bristol Post, Whiteladies Road, a key approach to Bristol City Centre from the north west with a much-used cycle lane, regularly floods when there is rain due to water running downhill from adjacent roads that have blocked drains, with water levels of up to 18 inches making conditions hazardous for cyclists and motorists, as well as pedestrians.
The council’s solution, currently undergoing consultation, is to install grass verges that will soak up rainwater, as well as a drainage channel, through widening the footway on either side of the road – but that means there will no longer be space for the cycle lanes running in each direction.
Councillor Don Alexander, who holds the transport portfolio at the Labour-controlled council, said: “Our streets are for everyone, and this part of Whiteladies Road clearly needs to be rethought.
“It is always a last resort to propose taking out cycle lanes, but the lack of space in this area means we need to consider it.
“A wider pavement would allow us to resolve the problems with flooding, while making the footpath safer and more accessible for all.”
He added: “I encourage everyone to take a look at the proposals and let us know your thoughts, to make sure we get the right solution for the city.”
Papastavrou told road.cc that the council was “digging its heels in, so they probably will remove this important cycle lane. What is needed here is a raised protected cycle lane built over the tree roots. If it is porous, it will do a tiny bit to alleviate the flooding and be good for the trees.”
Green Councillor Emma Edwards tweeted to say that she had first raised the issue of blocked drains with fellow councillors more than six months ago, but to no avail, and others also took to the social network to highlight similar issues with drainage that had not been resolved.
I first raised the issue of blocked drains in Members Forum last October, and the issue of Fix My Street not working in November. And yet the proposal is to remove cycle lanes before fixing either of these issues! Unbelievable. @makawi5 @EdPlowden @David_on_a_bike @BristolCouncil https://t.co/iyBbOUhTPF
— Cllr Emma Edwards (@bristol_pip) May 23, 2022
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.