However much Bristol City Council might talk up how important they think walking and cycling, their true priorities are laid bare for all to see when the snow falls. Here we have a view of Queen's Road, Clifton, from 1 p.m. on 21st December, a little more than 12 hours after the snowfall. The main roads are of course clear and operating normally but the pavement in the foreground at the junction with Richmond Hill, the main walking route from Clifton, remains untreated and walkers are already sliding around as the snow is compacted to ice.
This location is notorious for becoming treacherous for walkers after snow falls since it is heavily used, slopes markedly and is shaded from the winter sun by the adjacent block of flats. Yet there isn't even a grit bin at this location. One of the nearest grit bins is located on a traffic island by the Victoria Rooms (visible as a yellow lump in the distance below), convenient for use on the road but hopelessly inconvenient for the footways. Even four days later no attempt had been made to deal with the ice, other than to wait for a thaw, and the pavement remained treacherous.
Down at the Docks it's a similar story. The south side quays are largely shaded by adjacent buildings from the low winter sun and by 25th December the snow had turned to an almost continuous sheet of ice and remained so for days afterwards. And this at a time of year when a walk, jog or bike ride around the Docks would be a very popular and necessary recreation. But the ice has clearly put so many people off, not to mention those who've ended up in hospital with sprains or fractures. Should it not be part of the duties of the Harbour Master to ensure that quay sides are kept safe for walking, jogging and cycling, the main ways in which most people interact with the Docks?
The Council's policy appears to be to grit and clear the main road network, but not including footways or cycleways, however important they may be. That is simply inconsistent with their new rhetoric about encouraging cycling and walking. This coming week, with sub-zero temperatures forecast for every night and some sleet and snowfalls, will see many more 'accidents' as people follow the Council's exhortations to walk or cycle to work. We have the right to expect strategic walking and cycling routes to be identified and treated in the same methodical way as the strategic routes for motor vehicles.
PS - It seems the Evening Post take a similar view. Oh dear.