Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Living Streets Launch in Bristol

My current obsession with matters bicyclical, prompted by the rich irony of Bristol being designated Cycling City, has resulted in my neglect of matters bipedal which I originally intended to be one of the main foci of this blog. Or in plain English, what about walking? So let's remind ourselves of some of the problems of pedestrianism in Bristol.

Here's the Bath Road, the main walking route from central Bristol and Temple Meads station towards the south east quadrant of Bristol, including Totterdown, Knowle, Arno's Vale and Brislington. What we find is a narrow footway sub-divided to be 'shared' with two-way flows of cyclists, hard up against a heavily trafficked road with no less than four wide lanes dedicated to motor traffic. To complement the traffic noise buffeting walkers from the right we have a brick wall and advertising hoardings to the left. The message is simple - in Bristol walkers (and cyclists) come a poor second to motor traffic.

Even where some effort is made to improve the lot of pedestrians we find motorists abusing those facilities, as with the driver of DU08 SXV above who regards the dropped kerb of the new pedestrian crossing on the centre as a convenient place to pull in to take a phone call. Such a callous disregard for the convenience and safety of those second-class citizens who walk is endemic in Bristol, as we see again below where the driver of VO51 CCD has parked at the junction of Westbourne Place with St Pauls Road, in Clifton, in such a way as to force pedestrians to walk out into the traffic on the main road. Needless to say no action has been taken or will be taken against these miscreants.

But there is hope. Tomorrow night a new Bristol branch of Living Streets will be launched with a meeting at Corn Street in in central Bristol at 7.30 pm. I have great hopes for this local group because it is being launched with the help of local Green activist Steve Meek (below), one of the leaders of last year's phenomenal Save the Railway Path campaign. I believe he is someone who is determined to focus on getting results and not just going through the motions as some so-called campaign groups do (you know who you are). Expect some fun events too.

What's more Living Streets nationally have engaged another Bristol based environmental activist Josh Hart to promote the cause. Some of you may have heard one of his compelling presentations on the need to curb traffic. He will naturally be taking a great interest in the Bristol group. So we can be confident that this group is really going to start making a difference, and the sooner the better. But of course we need your support.

Whether we are cyclists, motorists or public transport users, we are all pedestrians too. Walking is the most fundamental form of transport and the most sociable way of getting around. Chance meetings in the street are very much part of the walking experience and that helps to foster a sense of community and common interests, without which 'society' may well implode. Walking really should take first place in the transport hierarchy, even at the expense of my beloved cycling.

So please turn out tomorrow. All are invited
to the Living Streets Bristol kickoff meeting, upstairs room, Pizza Express, Corn St Bristol. 7.30pm Thursday 23rd July. If you can't make the meeting then at least make contact - or tel: 0789 999 2398


The Bristol Blogger said...

Technically the Bath Road pavement is 'shared' with a one-way flow of cyclists.

Southbound cyclists should use the pavement and Northbound the bus lane.

Note I use the word 'technically' here as it's not only the speeding traffic and noise you have to contend with on this vile stretch of road but unexpected cyclists coming the wrong way trying to run you over and blaming you for it.

Chris Hutt said...

I refered to the 'shared' footway as used by two-way cycle traffic preciisely for that reason. As you say it is not in theory but it is in practice.

As you know the A4 Bath Road is being looked at in connection with GBBN Showcase bus route proposals, but this should also be an opportunity to get some decent provision for walking and cycling, although I don't think that will happen unless both cyclists and pedestrians see the need for some determined campaigning.

Anonymous said...

There was a flurry of campaigning about this stretch after the death of a pedestrian a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately I can find no link to either the accident (which involved a driver who had some kind of seizure at the wheel) or the campaign.

All that came of it, however, was some raised kerbstones and a 30mph flashing sign accompanied by the usual BCC excuses. may be able to tell you more.

I lied. Found links:

Chris Hutt said...

Thanks for those links BB. The second one, dated Feb 2007, is as follows -

E-petition calls for safer road

A man has begun an online petition calling for safety improvements on a road in Bristol where a woman was killed last month.

Pam Beckett, 37, was struck by a car as she crossed the A4 railway bridge in Totterdown on 21 January.

Local resident Sam Menter has used the city council's e-petitioning service on its website to highlight his concerns.

His ideas for improved safety include raising the kerb, building a pedestrian bridge or installing railings.


"The existing pavement is low and narrow, inches away from four lanes of traffic steaming in and out of Bristol," he said.

"It's a very unsafe route for pedestrians and cyclists."

The council introduced its e-petitioning service to help petitioners reach a potentially wider audience, provide background information and promote online debate.

The aim is to give decision makers the chance to see the strength of feeling about an issue.

"I've never tried anything like this before," said Mr Menter.

"But it would be great to see how effective 'e-democracy' can be."

Anonymous said...

Where do they get their funding?

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