Monday, 16 February 2009

Plans to "Calm" bicycle traffic past the site

Chris Hutt has discovered that the developers want to fund traffic calming along the railway path, and the council supports this. From the council's own Parks Services Manager :

"We would like to see a creative design for the length of the path affected by the development, so that it is treated as shared space so that visitors can be encouraged to stop, picnic etc, but also most importantly to calm cyclist speeds. There are ways that this can be achieved without imposing an urban feel and losing the intrinsic naturalness of the path experience....."

"I am comfortable in taking forward plans to calm cycling speeds along the railway path and to manage this as any capital project in a park – including public consultation and capital delivery. We have capacity to do this.”

This is painfully ridiculous. The path is a shared space: you can walk your dog, your kid, ride your bike, teach your kid to ride a bike. It is the very definition of shared space: one that is shared with pedestrians, bicycles and household pets. No other road in the city has people walking their dogs while others forage for food in the vegetation and small kids run to school without the parents holding on to their hands and looking out for 4x4s trying to find a nice bit of pavement to park on.

Here's a video of the path, 5pm returning-from-work rush hour, this very evening.

Is this a road that needs traffic calming? No. Its the safest place to walk or ride in the area. Why is it safest to walk? Because all other pavements force you to run for your life when you cross the roads, whereas here the path has no road junctions until you hit the end of the path on the west, one road crossing on the east. No cars, no traffic problem, no need for calming.

The Bristol Traffic site feels that this is a form of gentrification: not just content with taking over the greenery, the developers want to ensure the right sort of people use the path. Whatever it is, it is fundamentally wrong. If money is to be spent making Bristol safe to walk and cycle, this path is not the place where it is needed.