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.
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.
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