Over at Fishponds work has just started on extending the street lighting of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path from Ridgeway Road to Staple Hill Tunnel. The work involves digging a trench alongside the Path for the electricity cables and a certain amount of disruption and visual impact is inevitable, but some Path users have expressed concern at the extent of the impact on the once green corridor.
One can understand that a certain amount of cutting back of existing vegetation is required, including the removal f trees that have grown too close to the Path. As a general principle about a metre or so of grass verge should be maintained either side of the tarmac path itself to ensure that the full width can be used and to ensure reasonable sight lines. Lighting also needs to be clear of envelopment by adjacent foliage. But the contractors seem to be taking things too far.
It seems pretty clear that many mature trees well over a metre from the Path have been felled. Is this really necessary? The effect is devastating, reminding me of how the old railway looked back in the early 1980s before the Path was built. Of course the vegetation will grow back but the trees will take decades to recover. The importance of the 'greenness' of the Railway Path corridor cannot be overstated. It was the loss of the 'green' quality that above all prompted thousands to protest against Bristol City Council's recent plans to build a BRT bendy bus track along the Path.
At least one complainant has taken the initiative of emailing Bristol's 'Transport Supremo' Jon Rogers about this and I urge others to do the same. We know from bitter experience over many years, indeed decades, that we cannot entrust the care of the Railway Path to the local authorities. They lack the awareness of the sensitivities that rightly attach to the Railway Path which still represents a rare example of the popular will overcoming bureaucratic intransigence.