Despite the rough ride I had with Constructive Suggestion #3 for daring to suggest a link impinging on the Narroways Hill Nature Reserve, I shall press on with #4, which is for a change in South Gloucestershire rather than Bristol City, although still in the Greater Bristol area covered by Cycling City. The map below shows the current Cycling City proposal (green route) for a cycle route through the north fringe from Brentry, around the west end of Filton runway, through Cribbs Causeway and on to Patchway, Aztec West and Bradley Stoke.
View North Bristol cycle routes in a larger map
Those that came on the exploratory ride two weeks ago will recall that the overall route is surprisingly attractive but that Cribbs Causeway itself, with its mega sheds, car parks and disorientating network of roundabouts, is rather a forbidding prospect to the cyclist (and even to many motorists). The cycle route proposed by South Glos attempts to find a route through all this but in doing so ends up ludicrously convoluted, particularly where it approaches the centre of the Mall from the south-west and then has to detour almost 700 metres around the southern tip of the long block and back towards the centre on the north-east side to pick up a rather pointless bit of cycle path.
Now a 700 metre detour around the outside of the Mall may be mildly amusing the first time it's followed, but this route is supposed to serve regular cyclists making purposeful journeys and they are soon going to tire of such an obviously daft deviation from their 'desire line'. A commuter using the route twice a day would clock up an extra 350 kms (approx 25 hours of cycling) in the course of a year just on that detour alone! Once again we have to question the competence of the officers charged with devising these routes.
Ramping up - little used infrastructure could help cyclists
But in the uncharacteristically constructive spirit I adopt for the purpose of this series I have identified an alternative route, shown in red on the map, which as you can see provides a far more direct link through Cribbs Causeway yet still gives good access ot the Mall and better access to many other retail outlets. My route is 994 metres overall compared to 1,676 metres for the proposed Cycling City route, which is therefore almost 70% longer! Both routes involve some new construction and include two road crossings so implementation costs are unlikely to be very different.
Finally it's interesting to note that much of the overall route is presented by Cycling City as 'new infrastructure' (map below, click to enlarge) and yet most of it already exists and is readily usable. For example in the section we are looking at that marked by the number 18 will be 'new infrastructure' but that marked by 15 already exists and just requires some localised upgrades. The links marked 17 were to be provided as part of the Filton North Field development which has recently fallen through so won't happen within the Cycling City time frame (a possibility that hangs over much of the proposed 'new infrastructure').
When Jon Rogers returns (subject to the will of the voters of Ashley) to the Cycling City fray in June we must hope that such blatantly misleading documents and maps as that above, which date from the dark days under Labour's 'championship' of Cycling City, are finally withdrawn and replaced with something that fits with the new spirit of openness and transparency.