They are now proposing to introduce "traffic calming" on the Railway Path, in association with the current proposals to redevelop the Chocolate Factory at Greenbank. Followers of this blog will know well enough the long-running sorry saga of the Chocolate Factory and George Ferguson's attempt to squeeze a narrow terrace of housing onto the bank of the Railway Path under the guise of "cycle houses" and the clandestine land deal hatched between Ferguson and planning boss David Bishop.
The houses are proposed to open onto the Path with individual accesses so implicitly making claim to the Path as their communal "front garden", so cunningly avoiding the developer having to provide the land for this. But of course this sets up conflict between residents who will view the space in front of their houses as their "front garden" where their children can play and cyclists who view the Path as a relatively fast commuter route.
Having planned to set up the conflict in the first place the Council now seek a way to resolve it, hence "traffic calming" on the Railway Path. According to the report to Wednesday's Development Control Committee " ... the applicant (Squarepeg) has offered £130,000.00 for traffic calming on the surrounding streets and railway path.
The Parks Services Manager has more to say on the issue
"We would like to see a creative design for the length of the path affected by the development, so that it is treated as shared space so that visitors can be encouraged to stop, picnic etc, but also most importantly to calm cyclist speeds. There are ways that this can be achieved without imposing an urban feel and losing the intrinsic naturalness of the path experience....."So our Cycling City think they "have capacity" to traffic calm the Railway Path. Is this the same Cycling City who cannot organise basic maintenance without causing serious injuries to cyclists, the same Cycling City who cannot design a cycle path without creating blind corners (Clay Bottom) that cause serious injuries to cyclists, the same Cycling City who cannot resolve security issues that result in violent attacks on cyclists, the same Cycling City who still harbour ambitions to turn the whole Path into a concrete track for buses? Yes, the very same.
"I am comfortable in taking forward plans to calm cycling speeds along the railway path and to manage this as any capital project in a park – including public consultation and capital delivery. We have capacity to do this.”
Those of us who have the misfortune to live in the real world rather than the Cycling City Corporate Fantasy World may recall the disastrous consequences of previous attempts to "traffic calm" the railway Path in the Kingswood area in the 1990s. Illegal speed humps, bollards and chicanes were all tried and several cyclists were injured as a result, resulting in successful damages claims being brought against Kingswood Borough Council (although there was no significant impact on speeds). Most of these ill-conceived attempts at traffic calming have since been removed.
Were the Railway Path a road the average speeds recorded would not be considered sufficiently high to justify any traffic calming at all, even if a 20 mph speed limit were to be adopted. Yet the Path is not designated a public highway and users do not enjoy the protection of Department for Transport regulations. So incompetent officers are free to experiment with half-baked notions of what might "calm" cyclists, putting our lives at risk.