Bristol's Cycling City project seems to have an unlucky streak when it comes to trying to link schemes to our local engineering icon I K Brunel. Back in December this blog exposed the underhand attempt by the City Council and Sustrans to quietly drop their previous commitment to bring back into use Brunel's Swivel Bridge which lies forlornly under the shadow of the 1965 high-level swing bridge at the Cumberland Basin.
The story was picked up by the Evening Post, who reported the claim made by Sustrans' President John Grimshaw back in December 2007 that the use of Brunel's bridge would be "the icing on the cake" for the proposed cycle route. Grimshaw said "One key part will be the reinstatement of Brunel's so-called forgotten bridge". Then late last year the City Council apparently decided it was a daft idea after all and opted for a new crossing built on top of the existing lock gates (which may find English Heritage less than impressed).
So you would think the Council might tread warily in seeking to find some new pretext to associate this cycle route link with Brunel. But not so. Yesterday their latest proposals for the new link across the top of the lock gates were published, entitled the Brunel Lock Link, so named of course because it's a link designed to provide a new crossing of a lock built by, er, Thomas Howard.
Brunel did build a lock nearby, an upgrade of an earlier lock built by Jessop, but it proved inadequate and was abandoned in favour of Howard's new entrance lock, built in 1873 and used to this day. The abandoned lock is already crossed by a replica of Brunel's Swivel Bridge (foreground below) and the proposed cycle route will also use this crossing, but it still seems a rather tenuous connection with the Brunel name when the principal feature will be a crossing of the Howard Lock which signally fails to use Brunel's original Swivel Bridge.
The odd thing about this Sustrans / City Council obsession with establishing a Brunel themed link across Howard's Entrance Lock is that it actually fails to serve the main desire line for cyclists which will be towards the city centre, much better served by the swing bridge over the Junction Lock at the other end of the Cumberland Basin. If English Heritage cotton on to this they may be even more reluctant to agree to what would inevitably be a discordant addition to the historic lock structures.