My last suggestion for south Bristol seemed to generate a more positive response than usual so here another idea to improve links between the city centre and the Southville / Bedminster area, an area that is mostly fairly flat and all within one and a half miles of the centre. General traffic routes are constrained by the River Avon and New Cut, so traffic congestion is high on the main river crossing at Bedminster Bridge.
Cyclists and pedestrians however have the option of using a number of traffic free bridges of which Gaol Ferry Bridge is the most popular. In fact Gaol Ferry Bridge is itself quite congested at times (above and below), with cyclists and pedestrians channeled into narrow 'pens' in a crude attempt to minimise conflict between them. If cycling continues to grow the limitations of Gaol Ferry Bridge will become even more critical. The other traffic free bridges are either remote from the main desire line (Ashton Avenue Bridge) or unsuitable for cycle use due to access problems (Vauxhall Bridge).
So how about a new pedestrian/cycle bridge over the New Cut, say halfway between Gaol Ferry Bridge and the next crossing point, to relieve the growing pressure there and perhaps give users a more direct link towards Prince Street Bridge? Such bridges need not be particularly expensive - perhaps around a million pounds - providing the approaches and abutments can be engineered fairly simply.
The most logical locations (shown as red links below) would feed directly into the best available links to Prince Street Bridge, either the link under Cumberland Road or near the southern end of Wapping Road. I favour the former link because it minimises conflict with motor traffic by passing under Cumberland Road and could make use of existing structures to provide abutments. There may even be a case for building bridges at both locations!
View South Bristol Routes. in a larger map
The map above shows how such bridges could link on in, including back to my last suggestion at Ashton Gate where a direct link can be made with the proposed Colliters Greenway to continue into Ashton Vale. Improved links southwards to the Malago Greenway would also be desirable and might be more readily achieved from a new bridge than from Gaol Ferry Bridge.
Providing the project was handled by an outside agency rather than the City Council it might all be achievable within a modest timescale and budget, possibly within the remaining two years of the Cycling City project. As with my other suggestions it's up to others to pick up and run with this if they think it sounds promising. But if we don't look at resolving the capacity constraints in corridors like this then cycling will not be able to grow to its full potential.
Cycle Bridge Chic - is it just me or are cycle bridges really sexy?