Friday, 27 March 2009

More Brunel Bungles

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.


PhilC said...

I heard that the council have just painted road names along the cycle path that runs in Fishponds going up to the UWE campus - big white letters letting you know what the turn off is. Unfortunately one of them is spelt wrong (Purnall Road?)

PeteJ said...

I biked down the railway path last Saturday for the first time in a while, and that's been similarly infested, as far as Easton anyhow.

Not a bad idea, I suppose, but I'm not sure I understand quite who they're aimed at - cyclists mostly seem to know where they're going IME :)

TonyD said...

Today road signs, tomorrow....gritting in winter?

We live in hope.


I could be wrong on this, but I vaguely recall that there is a direct route from Ashton Avenue Bridge through to Avon Crescent and then on to the Merchant's Road Bridge (and thus linked with the cycle route on the north side of the floating harbour), the first part of which is marked in the Local Plan as a Greenway.

Surely this would provide the sort of link that, as you rightly say, most cyclists want, i.e a direct one into the city centre rather than this faffing around to incorporate some tenuous link with Brunel?

Chris Hutt said...

TonyD, you're absolutely right about the valuable link under Cumberland Road where the old docks railway headed off towards Canons Marsh.

I believe the land is in council ownership and could so easily be used to provide a quick and direct link from the Ashton Avenue swing bridge to the Junction Lock swing bridge (Merchants Road).

One can't help but wonder why nothing has been done about this over the last 25 years (when the Ashton Avenue bridge was officially brought into use as a cycle/walkway link, especially with all those supposedly environmentally concerned people working at the Create Centre.

mail said...

As well as an improved cycle link at Cumberland Basin, a link midway between Princess Bridge & Cumberland Basin is needed if we are to become a green city. Links between North and South need to be improved.
1 - It is approximately 2 km between these two bridges without a crossing which can increase journeys by 3 km.
2 - crossing Cumberland basin from South to North you get tied into a one way system that requires crossing busy traffic or dismounting on a corner which is not safe especially during rush hour.
3 - This link would provide a quick link to the roundabout between Anchor Road and Jacobs Wells Road thus providing direct routes to the city centre and Clifton.

We are proposing a cycle/pedestrian bridge across the floating harbour close to the S.S Great Britain.

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or our website