Railway path plans are dangerous, says cyclists' group
The design concepts for the Clay bottom 'wiggle' are among those criticised by the Bristol Cycling Campaign
A CYCLING group says some of the changes planned for the Bristol and Bath Railway Path are "dangerous and likely to deter cycling".
Transport charity Sustrans is overseeing a £1.1 million improvement scheme for the path, which runs through Mangotsfield, Staple Hill and Fishponds, on its final stretch from Clay Bottom towards the city centre.
The path is used by thousands of people each day and is a popular route for commuting to the city centre by bike.
In December Sustrans unveiled radical design concepts for areas of the path where there were most likely to be issues between pedestrians and cyclists.
But the Bristol Cycling Campaign has raised concerns over some of the proposals, particularly those which include seating and other "obstacles" which the group says will "hinder rather than help" cycling on the path.
Bristol Cycling Campaign chair Nick Davies said: "Our members have been frankly appalled at some of the poorly thought out ideas to put obstacles or street furniture on the direct cycle route. Some of the proposals are both dangerous and likely to deter cycling."
In a detailed, 37-page response to the plans, the group argues for the path to be widened throughout its busiest section to enable separation of cyclists and pedestrians, calling for a three-metre wide cycling section alongside a 2m pedestrian lane.
Particular concerns were raised over the possibility of seating at the sharp bends at Clay Bottom, changed to the pedestrian crossing near Whitehall Primary School, and changing the direct route of the path near Easton Community Centre as well as adding a series of raised tables in contrast colours.
In its response the group said: "Conflict between different users is inevitable at busy times on a shared-use path; only effective separation of modes will alleviate this."
The group also said that while there had been a focus on 'speeding cyclists' in the consultations, they represented a "very small percentage" path users and said speeding was "a subjective term".
Its response said: "We will oppose any measures which deter cycling (and some of these designs do). That will only increase motoring in east Bristol, with adverse consequences for the local community and the climate."
Sustrans South area director James Cleeton said: "We are grateful to the Bristol Cycling Campaign for taking the time to put together such a considered response, which we will take into account in the work that follows.
"The aim of this project is to create a safe and inclusive space for everyone – including people riding bikes – in line with the community vision. This is what we’re working towards and why it’s so important that we hear from as wide a range of voices as possible.
"The concept sketches we consulted on came about after an extensive engagement process and represented the thoughts and ideas we had heard from the community so far. They’ve prompted debate and further engagement, which is all very useful and has given everyone engaged in the project a lot of food for thought.
"We will continue to work on designs for improvements to the path, including looking at the feasibility of widening – and other options – within the scope and budget for this project. We would welcome a meeting with the Bristol Cycling Campaign in the weeks to come and look forward to further engagement with the wider community too.”
Sustrans will be running an update workshop on the co-design project at Easton Community Centre on February 24, from 5-7pm.
The Sustrans plan can be found online at bit.ly/2sysdpX and the Bristol Cycling Campaign response is at bit.ly/bcycbbrp.
Extra patrols after stabbing
A CYCLIST was stabbed as he was attacked by muggers on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
He was jumped near to where the path passes under Forest Road in Fishponds, between Morrisons and the Staple Hill Tunnel.
Avon and Somerset Police said a knife was later recovered from the scene of the incident.
Police patrols have been increased on the path and officers have called on people to contact them if they see anyone suspicious on the path.
Police said the victim was a man in his 30s who was cycling home from work along the path at around 7.15pm on December 18.
A spokesperson said: "He was approached by two suspects who blocked his path and demanded he hand over his belongings.
"In the resulting tussle the victim sustained what is believed to be a knife wound to his leg. He was treated at hospital for injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening or life-changing.
"The offenders fled the scene empty-handed in the direction of Forest Road."
"While this is an isolated incident, the local neighbourhood team take any such occurrence on the cycle path seriously.
"We want to hear from you if you see any groups gathering and they are being intimidating, anti-social or blocking the path. If you think a crime could be or is being committed, call 999."
Anyone with information that could help the investigation into the incident, which is being treated as an aggravated attempted robbery, should call 101 and quote the crime reference number 5219 291 413.
No detailed descriptions of the attackers are available, although reports on social media have said they were hooded and masked during the incident, which happened well after dark.