Way back in October of last year I suggested that the traffic restrictions on Prince Street Bridge were really being driven by the need to pave the way for its use by bendy-buses using the proposed BRT route from Ashton Vale To Temple Meads, saying that the BRT promoters, the West of England Partnership (alias Bristol City Council for practical purposes), had "let slip that they intend to remove one of the two footways in order to allow buses to cross".
In November Bristol Cycle Campaign, annoyed at cyclists being set up to take the flak for the bridge traffic restrictions when cyclists were not in fact benefiting, issued a Press Release which duly appeared in the Evening Post saying "The council have sneakily presented this bridge plan as something for cyclists, so that motorists will blame people on bikes for their loss of road space rather than the planned 'bendy-bus' route".
As reported on this blog at the time, The West of England Partnership retaliated with its own Press Release prompting an Evening Post headline "New harbour bridge for Bristol's rapid transit bus route" and a story suggesting that the buses would use a new bridge alongside the existing one. They seemed most anxious to scotch our suggestion that the BRT buses would use Prince Street Bridge. Even as recently as February this year the Evening Post were still reporting, at the behest of WoEP, that a new bridge would be provided for BRT or at least the existing bridge would be widened.
But WoEP have now quietly published their BRT plans. And guess what - they're going to use the eastern half of Prince Street Bridge for two-way bus traffic, inevitably removing the footway and diverting pedestrians onto the exclusively pedestrian west side, just as we said they would all those months ago (and contrary to their claims that a new bridge would be built). The detailed plan is here. Now the whole thing makes sense - the shuttle signals, the closure of one side to traffic, the bizarre arrangements for cyclists - all to accommodate BRT but paid for out of the Cycling City budget.
As for cyclists it looks as if we may lose out big time. According to the plan we will be confined to sharing the eastern half with the buses and therefore controlled by the traffic signals in both directions. Bus movements are expected to occur on average every 6 minutes in each direction so interruptions to cycle flows could be frequent. There is also the question of the safety of cyclists forced to share with long bendy-buses in the narrow confines of the bridge approaches and the likelihood of cyclists using the pedestrian side to avoid delays and conflict with the bendy-buses.
Thanks to Forest Pines for tipping me off to the published info and whose own comments are worth a read.
Also try here to envisage a bendy-bus on the bridge!