Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Overkill on the Railway Path?

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.

50 comments:

Russell Kirkland said...

Thanks for posting about this Chris.

The response from Jon Rogers to my email is far from satisfactory - he is 'asking officers to respond to us all.' How much of this is Mr Rogers' responsibility as Transport Supremo?

The images you've taken show the devastation in all it's sickening glory, it really is heartbreaking how many mature trees have been felled. It seems like a criminal act of wanton destruction to me.

Chris Hutt said...

In fairness to Jon Rogers his first action must be to get information from his officers, which he is doing. I'm sure he'll report back here when he has had some feedback.

The problem is that further unnecessary destruction may take place while the matter is being investigated. I've asked Jon to consider ordering a moratorium on tree felling beyond 1 metre of the tarmac path until it's established that more extensive felling is necessary.

As far as I'm aware there was no attempt to consult on the clearance of vegetation and felling of so many mature trees. This in itself is a matter of some concern. Had there been proper consultation then some of this destruction might have been avoided.

I'm willing to accept a fair degree of vegetation clearance as a prerequisite for the installation of lighting, but the shocking sight I saw yesterday was hard to accept. Of course it is now mid winter and by mid summer there will be much more green cover, but it will be many years before the mature tree cover reestablishes itself.

Anonymous said...

At least they're not building houses - that would be really devastating.

Chris Hutt said...

But they are, further down at Greenbank. The Chocolate Factory development has gone quiet for a while but I suspect the grubbing out of the long hedgerow may take place quite soon now in order to allow works not to be held up by the nesting season (1 March - 31st July). It may be that the Fishponds lighting works will provide the Chocolate Factory developers with the cover to carry out their own bit of environmental vandalism.

Anonymous said...

Given the hassle I have experienced lately on several sites in bristol with the felling of trees, it would seem that the council have one set of rules for them and another set of rules for everyone else. But then we all knew that anyways.

In defence though, where lighting is concerned i am sure there would have been cries of ridicule had any lighting been obscured by the trees. There is also the ongoing maintenance issues that tree roots cause to the path surface and underground services e.g. power cables to the lights. You only have to look at Coronation Road to see what the roots can do.

Also a lot of the groundworks contractors tend to work in very simplistic ways. Careful removal of undergrowth generally ends up as mass destruction of anything within swinging distance of a chainsaw.

Des said...

Well done Chris and Russell for seeing the wider picture on this one. It would indeed be very counter-productive and not a little ironic if efforts to enhance green transport resulted in the destruction of good wildlife habitat.

Chris Hutt said...

Praise from Des! Blimey!

I should have mentioned the impact on the Path as a wildlife corridor. Even scrubby cover has a value to local wildlife and the Path is designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). I would have thought the removal of so many trees would have needed the agreement of the Council's Nature Conservation and Landscape Officers, but one can't help but wonder if the officers were hoping to do this on the sly (under cover of the lighting works) to avoid the normal consultations.

Jon Rogers said...

I have had the following officer response, "We were aware of the sensitivity regarding the railway path and the potential negative impact on trees or vegetation. As such we have tried throughout the whole design process to limit this impact. Right at the start of this project we commissioned an Ecological survey. The survey identified that the habitats along the route were of low ecological value but that it was an important corridor of virtually continuous vegetation from the open countryside to highly urban parts of inner Bristol. It therefore enhances the ecology of a large part of Bristol by allowing species access to spaces such as gardens and parks. It is also of significant importance in providing a large number of people an opportunity to come into contact with wildlife.

"The dominant vegetation is secondary woodland dominated by ash and sycamore. We have worked in partnership with aboricultural colleagues in Parks to assess the quality of trees and the impact of the works on this and licences were granted by the Forestry Commission for felling.

"There are two reasons for the felling the first being that the excavation of trenches ( into which lighting cables are to be laid) would require the cutting of tree roots. The root protection zone of a tree is generally 24 times the diameter of the tree stem. As a visual representation the roots underground generally mirror the extents of a trees canopy.

"The advice from colleagues in Parks is that trees do not survive if their roots are cut and the roots closest to the surface are the most important. The position of such trees could be remote from the line of the trench and to the general public could be seen as excessive clearance. The second reason for tree felling is to promote biodiversity within the corridor and this has taken place on the southern bank. A thick tree canopy prevents sun light to the ground flora limiting the number of species which then limits the quality of the habitat for fauna. The ecological diversity created retaining some of the cut back tree stumps and shrubs on a coppice cycle of regular cutting back can for example create more nesting sites for birds. The extra light that is let onto the ground will encourage more wild flowers, birds and butterflies and the additional insects using the space will also provide a richer feeding ground for bats.

"As mitigation we are planting new trees, which are native species unlike many of the self seeded trees. This planting was carried out in winter 2009 and more trees will be planted next week. During the informal consultation, carried out in June and July 2009 and throughout the planning process we attempted to explain that tree removal would be carried out and that new planting would take place.

"I trust this explains the approach we have taken and the reasons why.
"

I am deeply unhappy that the first that Gary and I hear about this is from emails and your blog. We have already asked that any Cycling City developments that affect mature and substantial trees should be discussed with us as Executive Members.

This is a wonderful linear park and wildlife corridor, which we are determined to conserve and enhance as was confirmed by the motion we attempted to get through council in April 2008.

Glenn Vowles said...

Do we buy all that the officer's say?? I dont agree with the 'low ecological value' statement for a start - they seem to have a very different view of the terms ecology and value to mine! All the techniques and processes used should be reviewed, not least the way they communicate with Cllrs and the public.

Russell Kirkland said...

Thanks for posting the officer response Jon. Could we have the name of this officer please?

I'd like to respond to some of the points:

"The second reason for tree felling is to promote biodiversity within the corridor and this has taken place on the southern bank."

Promoting diversity by destroying it? Sounds suspiciously like the Vietnam war phrase, "to protect the village, we first had to destroy it."

"A thick tree canopy prevents sun light to the ground flora limiting the number of species which then limits the quality of the habitat for fauna. The ecological diversity created retaining some of the cut back tree stumps and shrubs on a coppice cycle of regular cutting back can for example create more nesting sites for birds."

What about the existing bird's nests? How many hundreds have been destroyed?

"The extra light that is let onto the ground will encourage more wild flowers, birds and butterflies and the additional insects using the space will also provide a richer feeding ground for bats. As mitigation we are planting new trees, which are native species unlike many of the self seeded trees."

So wild flowers are OK, but mature self-seeded trees aren't?

"During the informal consultation, carried out in June and July 2009 and throughout the planning process we attempted to explain that tree removal would be carried out and that new planting would take place."

What consultation? I'm on this path almost every day, and have never seen this consultation publicised. I'm not suggesting it didn't take place, but if members of the public aren't informed of it's existence, it is no wonder that objections aren't raised.

I completely agree with Chris' earlier comment:

"Had there been proper consultation then some of this destruction might have been avoided."

My conclusion: massive landscape management fail again from BCC. Destroying the green space, swathes of trees at a time.

onthelevelblog said...

This is very upsetting to see from afar. Does anyone have before and after pictures, or photos with some sort of reference as to where they were taken? It's a little difficult to see exactly how much damage has been done.

Given all of this, I think it's pretty clear that John Roy of Cycling City is self seeded and of little value. Can we please have him removed?

Anonymous said...

Very encouraging to see that the opportunity to improve the habitat and biodiversity of the Railway Path is being taken.

Talk to any of the wildlife or conservation organisations and you'll find support for this kind of management.

Looks destructive now but it's an investment in the future and should be welcomed. We'll all enjoy a richer environment very quickly and for many years to come.

gentlegreen said...

It looks horrible, but "hundreds of birds' nests" ?

It's the middle of winter - which is when you do woodland management for that very reason.

This has clearly all been very expertly considered well in advance. Perhaps the felled logs could be left to provide even better habitat to invertebrates ?

Just so long as there isn't any sneaky widening going on for a future re-visiting of the bus / tram /train thing.

As I said elsewhere, my main concern is that vast amounts of energy will be wasted accommodating those living "proofs of Darwin" who can't afford batteries for their lights.

I will be interested to see if we end up with way too much light as has been done elsewhere - i.e. HPS instead of LPS - when it would actually be a perfect showcase for partially PIR-triggered LED lighting.

Sally said...

For many users of the railway path the new lighting is a vast improvement. It wasn't so long ago that local news featured articles about people being attacked on the path and this hardly encourages people to use it all year round for their daily commute, walks, rides around town, etc. Lighting and better management of hedgerows and vegetation will surely provide muggers, rapists and other miscreants less cover and improve cyclists visibility.

I know many users of the path, females in particular, who welcome the lighting - the path is not just the province of a bunch of middle aged blokes and, like it or not, lighting will improve it for many.

Whatever the rights & wrongs of the situation, however, I think it is an absolute disgrace that 'onthelevelblog' chooses to personally attack a very committed and capable council officer who has been doing a lot to improve the life of cyclists in Bristol, cycles everywhere himself and continues to do his job very effectively.

Seems that the Cycling City project is 'damned if they don't do anything' (complaints of slow progress, not enough visible action) and 'damned if they do'.

Mr Hutt, you ask people to highlight examples of postings that are either untrue or unfair and I would ask you or the poster to consider withdrawing his/her remarks about Mr Roy, which are unnecessary, personal and frankly insulting.

bsk said...

Sally,

I can't see anything wrong with his post. It's his opinion & he is entitled to it.

I'm not sure I understand his para. 2 though, because the person he refers to is from Cycling City not BCC. Perhaps I've missed something but maybe if he clarified it we'd all be the wiser.

Chris Hutt said...

Jon, thanks again for taking the trouble to get an explanation from officers for us. The response raises a number of issues but one that springs to mind is that we are dealing here with two separate matters that are being carried out simultaneously.

The first is the installation of lighting and its attendant tree felling (mostly on the north side of the Path)and the second is the tree felling carried out exclusively for biodiversity reasons (on the south side of the Path).

The response from officers refers to "the informal consultation carried out in June and July" which referred to their attemps to "explain that tree removal would be carried out and that new planting would take place."

The consultation leaflet issued in June 2009 contained the following

"The installation of lighting will unfortunately require the removal of some trees and branches. The electrical connection will run underground in the path verge. This will interfere with tree roots and the trees will suffer over time. To compensate for this loss we have been working with a tree specialist, and some tree planting was undertaken last winter with native trees. We propose to continue this planting in the coming winter (the tree planting season) to compensate for all lost trees. Any removal of trees will take place after the summer, outside the bird nesting season."

There is no reference to any tree clearance for the purposes of improving biodiversity beyond what is required as a result of the root damage. The lighting and trench are being installed on the north side of the Path but the majority of the felling appears to be on the south side of the Path, mostly well away from the Path so nothing to do with root damage.

It appears to me that there hasn't been any publicity or consultation in relation to the south side tree felling which is being carried out purely for reasons of encouraging biodiversity. Does anyone know otherwise?

Chris Hutt said...

Sally,

Firstly this blog post is not questioning the need for lighting. I'm not a regular commuting user of the Path so I don't presume to suggest whether lighting is required or not.

However I will point out that almost all the reported attacks to which you refer have occured on the section that already has lighting (mainly south-west of Devon's Road bridge) and few if any on the Fishponds section, so there doesn't seem to be much objective evidence to suggest that lighting improves security (except perhaps subjectively).

As for Josh Hart's (OTLB) comments about John Roy, I did consider whether I should allow those to remain. I understand that John Roy is a sufficiently senior officer to be expected to take some public criticism and so under the circumstances I think it's fair to leave the comments up.

You've expressed an opinion of John Roy too, so kind of undermined your own argument. I'll pass your comment on to Josh in case he wants to withdraw his comment (although I'd expect hell to freeze over first, global warming not withstanding).

George said...

'It appears to me that there hasn't been any publicity or consultation in relation to the south side tree felling which is being carried out purely for reasons of encouraging biodiversity. Does anyone know otherwise?'

Shall I request that Cllr Rogers notifies you of any time one of his officers wants to visit the bathroom? It's no wonder you're always so critical of council inaction - they can't get on with their own day to day business with people like you around feeling that they have to notify everyone about every decision.

onthelevelblog said...

I stand by my comments. In response to widespread concern about trees that are threatened by the Chocolate Factory development, John Roy of Bristol City Council stated that the trees that were to be removed along the railway path were "self seeded and of little value." The lack of understanding or respect for nature- not to mention good bicycle transportation policy- is really staggering. More at: http://onroute.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/invasive-species-management-a-denial-of-our-nature/

In my experience much of the delay, obfuscation, and timidity that characterised the first months of cycling city were down to Mr. Roy's inept leadership. It may be that the Council appointed someone with little vision to the post, in which case the fault may not be entirely his own.

Great that he cycles- it would seem very strange if he didn't, working for the cycling city program. George W. Bush was a keen cyclist too.

Sorry if naming names offends, but this is my opinion and you are free to express yours.

I repeat that John Roy himself is self-seeded and of little value.
By the standards to which the City Council treats living things such as trees, he should be removed (though being cut down might seem a little extreme)

When will the Lib Dems move to defend the path in perpetuity as permanently protected open space? Right now it's death by a thousand cuts.

Owain said...

No wonder Cycling City can't get anything done with the venom and bile spewed out on here.

I work for a community cycling organisation after working for BCC for several years. There isn't a council officer I met that isn't passionate about making Bristol a better place. That's why these people work for a local authority.

Most of them in a position of authority have studied for many years to get to the position they are in. Decisions like these aren't taken lightly.

Hands up who on here works for a local authority? Thought so. If you care about it that much apply for a job at the council. If you aren't successful I guess it shows that you aren't the 'experts' that you profess to be.

Generally, officers know what they are doing with the constraints of the limited resources they have. Chances are you don't understand all the issues, as it seems has happened here.

Sure, pick apart and argue everything to the Nth degree on this blog but it only results in things not getting done, which isn't helping anyone. Not least you Chris, as you've been so critical of the slow progress in the past. This is exactly why unnecessary delays occur.

Well said Sally, damned if you do, damned if you don't...

Chris Hutt said...

George, we are not talking about officers being excused to use the bathroom here.

Many thousands of people are rightly concerned about the future of the Railway Path, particularly in the hands of a Council that still plans to convert it to a 'rapid transit' route, and have a right to expect to be informed of any proposed works beyond minor maintenance matters.

The felling of dozens of mature trees is not a minor matter and has caused many Path users to be very concerned. I can't see why it should be so difficult for the Council to maintain a website, or blog even, where all proposed works to the Railway Path are flagged up.

Considering that the Council's authority and funding comes entirely from the people of Bristol I think the same people have every right to be kept fully informed of all the works carried out in their name.

Sally said...

Thanks for the responses to my earlier post. So is there a grade or salary level at which personal insults towards council employees are more acceptable? As you say on your home page Mr Hutt 'all I ask is that you make your points in a civilised way' - perhaps Mr Hart's definition of civilised is different to mine - maybe a cultural difference?

I appreciate the point made about different sections of the railway path - however, you might wish to consider the perspective of more vulnerable users of cycle paths and their perceptions about safety? Clearly, these factors need to be taken into account in effective design of off-road routes.

Mr Hart, it is interesting to see that you do not wish to retract your personal comment about Jon Roy and indeed make further personal points in your subsequent post. This might tell readers something about your own personal style. Yes you are entitled to your opinion, but the way you express it here is both personally insulting and puerile. Grow up.

On a wider note, why are you so interested in issues about Bristol and its local democracy, when you live so far away? Are there no environmental problems in your own country to which you could turn your 'talents'? I gather that you spent some time here in the South West of England and have now departed. I am sure that Bristol's issues are of a significantly lower order on a global scale than those of California and the USA, so perhaps you could sort those out?

Chris Hutt said...

Sally, as I said before I don't think Josh's comments were so extreme as to be unacceptable in the context of a blog like this. You've responded in kind, so you can't really complain about the personal nature of the comments.

For the record I think that senior officers who have a lot of discretion about the way they carry out their duties are fair game for public criticism. On the other hand it would be unfair to publically criticise those at a junior level who have little discretion.

Martyn said...

onthelevelblog

I documented many of the trees and woodland immediately bordering the path on 3rd May 2008. Jump to post No.31 for the section in question:
http://railwaypath.blogspot.com/

This was my favourite section of the path, because of the wilder woodland which contained cherry and other fruit trees which looked great in Spring! I understand the difficulty the Council have with meeting long-term developments, but question the justification of native planting for mitigation especially when there is no replacement for established wildlife. Could this be mere job creation? Let's hope we see the butterflies and fauna as promised and that the new lighting doesn't deter the more timid wildlife many of us are amazed to see venturing into the city, though I suspect it will.

Anonymous said...

Sally...don't engage. Josh Hart and Chris Hutt crave for status and blogging is the way they do that. Keep looking at the bigger picture and this debates become so insignificant. I will await the chain of comments about how wrong I am. If I was Josh Hart, I'd be pretty concerned about the latest movements in his own country or country of residence but that is just me. Happy debating people.

Chris Hutt said...

Actually Anon I don't disagree with much of what you say.

We all crave status, especially males, and I'm no exception. It's a powerful motivator. Some seek status by driving big cars, some by hoovering up honours, some by making money, some by career advancement, some through politics and some by blogging. I like to think that blogging is perhaps the least malign of those.

And yes, if we look hard enough at the bigger picture then almost everything becomes insignificant. this blog, my life, your life, Sally's life, Cycling City - all insignificant details that will make no perceptible difference to the course of history and mankind's destiny of of self-deception and self-destruction.

Of course we don't want to see that bigger picture, the picture that shows that we are merely insignificant individuals acting out our instinctive impulses and attaching far too much importance to ourselves.

But out of the delusion of our self importance comes some interest, engagement and entertainment. That is what this blog represents, for a few hundred people anyway.

Des said...

Speaking as a 'middle-aged bloke' (an oppressed minority if ever there was one) I think a balance has to be struck between health and safety concerns and nature conservation interests, and I think the former can be used as an excuse to ignore the latter in Bristol's corridors of power. The prevailing vision seems to be 'remove all greenery to stop crime' when a more sensible balance can often be struck with a bit of planning and design.

Meanwhile arguments about management of wildlife habitats, (which often involve the removal of trees to reduce shading out of wildflowers and the subsequent encouragement of inveretebrates) is all very well on nature reserves, but in the context of the railway path I think removal of mature trees will have an overall negative effect on its function as a wildlife corridor/urban greenspace.

MJ Ray said...

I just want to come back to one part of the officer comment: "The advice from colleagues in Parks is that trees do not survive if their roots are cut and the roots closest to the surface are the most important."

So rather than waiting and seeing which ones survive and removing those which do not, they remove any chance of any surviving by felling the lot? I say that colleagues in Parks do not survive indefinitely, so should we fell them immediately, rather than risk their slow decline?

I guess it's cheaper to cut down trees than to care for them conservatively. Where's the wood going? Any of it being recycled into rustic seats or bollards for cycling city concerns?

Anonymous said...

Think you all need to do a bit of research... New trees will be planted and lighting levels must be achieved hence the removal of the established trees, it's not just about the physical positioning of the lamp post. It's one less thing for the muggers to hide behind as well.

Praise to the people behind this project... It's about time

Des said...

Anon - I think most of us who have posted comments are qualified enough to raise objections. As Chris has said, in this case it really is a question of overkill. Safety and nature conservation interests can be easily addressed without clear-felling of mature trees. Simples.

Chris Hutt said...

Anon (11.37), you are the one who needs to do some research. If you take the trouble to read through the comments you will see that the majority of the tree felling has nothing to do with the lighting installation, being on the opposite side of the Path.

The officers have not claimed that the tree removal is to deny muggers hiding places. That would be quite ridiculous, so it may well be true. But once you follow that sort of logic through you end up with a barren wasteland reminiscent of the eastern side of the Berlin Wall.

Besides there is no significant history of mugging on the section of the Path in question. The best way to deter mugging is to create an environment that does not induce feelings of social alienation, particulalry one with lots of trees to soften the raw edges of the urban fabric.

onthelevelblog said...

It's pretty clear that this is part of a much larger campaign to degrade the railway path- piece by piece- so that motor vehicles can eventually come in- first the buses, then who knows. You have to put yourself in the shoes of a traffic engineer. They look at an "unutilised" corridor like the railway path and lick their chops: "mmmmmm extra capacity...."

It is telling that neither the Bristol Cycling Campaign (nor it seems the executive leader for transport) were informed about the extent of the damage. It is the officer corps who run the show in Bristol- exactly what the Bristol Blogger has rightly been banging on about.

Don't get me wrong- I know many of the cycling officers personally and they are good people doing a good job. But, my friends, there is rot high up in the corps. And that rot is personified by John Roy.

I'm sorry. I look into his eyes and I just don't trust this man. I believe he is anti-cyclist on a deep level. His cycling is like a wolf in sheep's clothing. He needs to be sent out to pasture.

In the near term, any further tree removal should be halted as a matter of urgency, and then a longer term preservation order needs to be sought for the whole corridor. There is too little wildness left in the UK, particularly in places like Easton and Fishponds, to accept this mindless, wanton destruction.

Who will step up to run such a campaign?

George said...

Chris, you've already alluded to your egotistical nature in an earlier comment. I'd love to know how many people actually read your blog. I'm sure it is more than take the time to comment - but surely in the interests of openness and transparency you'd consider putting up a 'counter' to illustrate to us all how representative your views really are. The fact that the press pick up on your rants and disillusioned views means nothing they're like the game keeper - feeding that ego of yours.

There's been quite a bit of bile spilled on this comment section - I think you need to take a good look at some of the comments from our American friend and reassess what the objective of your blog is.

Just looking at one of the links your American friend posted and his subsequent comments:

'Let’s survive, use what we NEED from the planet and let our beautiful Earth heal itself from its human wounds.'

He obviously felt the NEED to travel from the US to the UK for study. Then of course the NEED to travel back again to pawn himself on his one man green crusade. These are not NEEDS - these are choices. We choose everything in life. In this case the choice has been to take an opportunity for biodiversity management on the Railway Path. Okay so not a NEED, but a choice, that will undoubtedly encourage more people to make the important choices that can only improve on our current situation.

Anyone remember the American's 'Bristol we're hurting' speech from the early days of the Cycling City Project? My response - shut your mouths - because 'You're hurting Bristol!'

Des said...

I've had my differences with both Chris H. and On The Level in the past but they are absolutely spot on here. In no way is this wholesale destruction necessary. There will be many years of impoverished biodiversity on this stretch and I agree that it seems an excuse for developing extra capacity for other transport in the future.

Chris Hutt said...

ITV West coverage of Railway Path tree felling now available here -

http://bit.ly/5gAja2

George said...

Isn't the fact that this has only been picked up by the worse than tabloid ITV News a bit of an indication that this isn't a worthy 'news story' at all?! My god, even the dirty Post haven't touched it!

Chris Hutt said...

Well it's certainly captivated you George. And 36 comments on this blog in less than two days speaks for itself.

As for your earlier complaint about "bile spilled out in the comments section", aren't you being a tad hypocriticial, seeing as you are the source of a fair proportion of it?

As for blog viewing figures, they don't prove anything very much but for what it's worth yesterday there were 258 visits by 184 different visitors. Draw your own conclusions.

PeteJ said...

That visitor count is likely low too; I doubt I'm the only person who reads posts and comments through a feed reader, which will show up as a single site visitor regardless of how many subscribers it has. I only show up if I click through to comment.

FWIW, I agree with Chris on this one (for all that we often disagree on other transport issues), but I guess my opinion doesn't count either since I moved to Hull over New Year ;)

On the other hand, I'm not hiding behind an unidentified forename.

Chris Hutt said...

Hi Pete, good point about feed readers. I use Google reader to view blogs and only click through to comment. I wondered how such followers were counted.

Sally said...

'Onthelevelblog' - you are getting personal again - 'I'm sorry. I look into his eyes and I just don't trust this man. I believe he is anti-cyclist on a deep level. His cycling is like a wolf in sheep's clothing. He needs to be sent out to pasture.'

Anyone would think you had a grudge.

Anonymous said...

Onthelevelblog you must be very naive if you think that politicians don't know what's going on. It's called denial.

gentlegreen said...

On balance, especially after seeing Chris's new photos, I do sincerely regret the loss of the "green corridor" effect given by the self-sown trees on the track bed - the aim seems to be to maximise use of natural light. It definitely looks more "Park" than wildlife corridor...

Though I cycled along there daily for over 20 years, my initial view was skewed by having recently only been using that section on the way home in the dark - when it's a genuinely hazardous experience with people pushing prams, and some very inadequate lighting on the part of a lot of cyclists.

In my opinion, no one should have been tackling that stretch after dark during the rush hour without the sort of lamp that costs more than many have to spend on a bike. (even my DIY option isn't cheap).

It's a great shame the full details of this new "park" section (can we expect benches and street parties ?) wasn't properly advertised in advance.

Can we not be allowed to see the artist's impression ?
It is, after all, simply a case of uploading some existing drawings ...

Chris Hutt said...

Gentlegreen, I don't dispute the need for some lighting along the Bristol section of the Railway Path, given the levels of use, or the need to cut back vegetation, including trees, to manage and maintain good visibility.

But what we have here on the south side of the Path is something quite different. It is an attempt to change the visual and environmental character of a substantial section of the Path. As such it should have been proposed publicly and consulted on so that people had the chance to express concerns. But it appears that it wasn't.

A more open style of landscape management requires far more intensive management of litter which will no longer be hidden by the scrub. Are the Council willing to do this? From experience elsewhere on the Path I doubt it. In which case perhaps the scrub cover needs to be left.

Anonymous said...

"At least they're not building houses - that would be really devastating." - Anon.

I was being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Chris Hutt and the likes of Josh Hart will never be happy with anything but the vision they have. How is Josh Hart has so much time to travel sedately round the world. Lucky chap.

PeteJ said...

@Chris requests from feed readers sometimes include their subscriber count somewhere in the browser id string, so you (or a suitably clever log analyser) can get an actual reader count.

Custer said...

Good point Anon 10.05. Maybe Hart is an old money US 'trustafarian' living on ancestral money? Perhaps his forebears made their living ripping up American Indian reservations to build railways and this is some kind of guilt trip to assuage his conscience? Never trust a man in Orange trousers with a grudge against local authority employees in far away places!!

Anonymous said...

Good one Custer - maybe beard face speak with bicycle forked tongue? How!

Chris Hutt said...

At least Josh has the courage to put his name to his comments which is more than can be said for his critics.

May I say to all those who have decended to making personal and snide comments, including Josh himself, that you do your cause little good by such tactics. It simply suggests that you have no coherrent argument to put forward.

I'm loath to start deleting comments so please all grow up and put your points forward in a reasoned and polite way with supporting evidence where possible. You will win more respect for your views that way.

sued said...

@ Sally - I'm a woman and use the path at night occasionally. I've never felt in danger apart from the odd unlit cyclist appearing out of nowhere. I don't believe the risk of being mugged is any greater on the path than on the street, and won't be deterred by this kind of scaremongering. That said, lighting is welcome, but the tree management is mighty heavy handed. I'm not sure the people making these decisions have been on the path at dusk when there are often badgers and foxes out and about. I wonder if they'll be deterred by the lights. It's these green areas that make Bristol unique, and more strenuous efforts should be made to preserve them when engaging in these kind of schemes, so wildlife isn't further marginalised.