Just for a change I'm going to try making some constructive suggestions for Cycling City, which by its own admission lacks the "wow" factor that is considered so essential in today's image obsessed world. It seems that for all the money being thrown at Cycling City and the elapse of over 9 months Bristol City Council still can't seem to find anyone with vision and imagination to work on the project. The best they seem to be able to manage is to recycle long established cycle routes as new ones on the basis of some minor improvements.
What the project needs is some infrastructure developments that create new links that make cyclists' journeys quicker, pleasanter and more convenient. So here is a first of what may be a series of constructive suggestions for such links. I'm not expecting to get any credit for this, even less any payment (I wouldn't want to deprive all those parasitic consultants of their life blood). I do it, against my better judgement, because I just can't suppress my innate enthusiasm for cycling.
View Ashton Gate routes in a larger map
Let's start with the Sustrans Connect2 project (now part of Cycling City and shown in yellow above), which seems to be bogged down in futile attempts to establish a new or improved crossing of the Docks Entrance Lock by Brunel's old swivel bridge, despite the fact that the alignment bears little relationship to the 'desire line' of the majority of potential users and seems to be founded as a John Grimshaw vanity project to link his name to that of Brunel, comparisons with whom he is rather fond.
The 'desire line' for a route from Ashton Court, Long Ashton and points west to the city centre is, like most desire lines, an approximation of a straight line. The route needs to cross the River Avon and then the Cumberland Basin to feed into Hotwells, Cliftonwood and north Harbourside. The River Avon crossing is long established via the old Ashton Avenue Bridge (pictured below) so the question is which end of the Cumberland Basin to cross - the west Entrance Lock end (Brunel's bridge) or the east Junction Lock end (Merchants Road)?
If you're not an employee of Sustrans or the City Council it won't be too difficult to see that the Junction Lock end gives a route that much more closely approximates a straight line than the Entrance Lock end. So what we need is a direct link from the Ashton Avenue bridge to the Junction Lock. Fortunately there is a section of disused railway passing under Cumberland Road that does precisely that, as shown above in red and pictured below. All that is then required is a section of contraflow cycle route on Merchants Road to link up to Clifton and away we go.
My direct route is less than half the distance of the Sustrans Connect2 route and avoids the expense of a new/upgraded crossing of the Entrance Lock gates, using instead the existing swing bridge which will need some traffic management to achieve an appropriate standard for cyclists and an improved traffic environment in the vicinity of the Nova Scotia and Avon Crescent by diverting through traffic onto the Brunel Way flyover system, where it should be.
The redundant railway route through to Avon Crescent
It seems such an obvious link to make, yet both Sustrans and the City Council have become fixated on getting a new link over the entrance lock by the Brunel bridge which offers little advantage for most cyclists. Even the small proportion heading for the Portway from Ashton Avenue Bridge will find the distance via the junction Lock crossing less than 200 metres longer, well under a minute of cycling. One has to ask why such a basic analysis of the options seems to be beyond the wit of the so-called professionals.