Be Bolder on Nelson Street and Properly Pedestrianise The Centre

The Living Heart for Bristol has welcomed the consultation on changes to Nelson Street (which closes on February 9th) but has called on the Council to be bolder and clearer in removing traffic and improving the environment of Nelson Street and surrounding streets. The Council’s plans include plans for a partially segregated cycle route along Nelson Street.  Quay Street will be made two-way “for access and taxis only”.  An area of The Centre, around the cenotaph, will be partially pedestrianised as part of the Metrobus plans, although the plans do not make clear how rat-running from Quay Street across this “access only” area will be prevented. The consultation asks for views on pedestrianising part of Fairfax Street and on making Bridewell Street one way.  The Living Heart Nelson Street Consultation Response welcomes the general approach and:
  •  Supports the option to pedestrianise Fairfax Street
  • Calls for traffic from Bridewell Street to turn left only, removing the ability to use All Saints Street as a rat-run
  • Calls for the Eastern side of The Centre, around the cenotaph, to be pedestrianised with access for bikes, and deliveries at limited times
Spokesman Steve Melia said: “The consultation is welcome but we wish the Council would be bolder and clearer in their plans.  That area does not need to provide rat-runs for through traffic.  The buildings are being redeveloped.  There’s no point in spending lots of money on improving the appearance of streets if they remain as rat-runs.   We support the option to pedestrianise the bottom of Fairfax Street and we want to see traffic removed from at least one side of The Centre.  The three simple changes we are suggesting would improve the whole area for everyone.”  

Widen Paths and Separate Cyclists Along Hotwells Harbourside

The Living Heart for Bristol* has welcomed the City Council’s plans to widen bridges and walkways along the Harbourside at Hotwells, but has called for a clear separation between cyclists and pedestrians.  The Council’s plans would widen the existing pathways at Merchants Dock (near the Pump House pub) and the bridge that crosses Junction Lock.  They would remove a barrier but would not separate cyclists from pedestrians. Steve Melia, spokesman for the Living Heart for Bristol said: “The proposals to widen the paths in that area are welcome.  We also welcome the proposal to remove the barrier that squeezes cyclists and pedestrians together near the Pump House pub.  But the Council should take this opportunity to create separate cycle paths and paved areas for pedestrians.  Most people are sensible most of the time but there are occasional conflicts along that route, which are inevitable where the two are mixed and squeezed together in large numbers.  The Council should also plan to improve that route where it continues towards the city centre, creating separate cycle paths wherever possible.” Martin McDonnell, Secretary of the Bristol Cycling Campaign added: “We welcome the improvements to this route and particularly the removal of the barrier that causes a real problem, not just for bicycles, but pushchairs, wheel chairs, mobility scooters and creates unnecessary queues. These changes are intended to make the area more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and disabled people and to encourage more people to take advantage of these forms of active travel.” ENDS   * The Living Heart for Bristol aims to improve the central areas of Bristol and create new public space by removing through traffic, whilst retaining access for all.  It was created by the following 8 organisations: Bristol Cycling Campaign, Bristol Green Capital, Bristol Living Streets, Carfree Bristol, Friends of the Earth, the Open Spaces Society, Bristol Ramblers Group and Streets Alive.  Several other organisations have endorsed its declaration – shown on  

How do we let our city grow without traffic strangling us all?

Article in the Bristol Post October 17th 2014

Proposed Cycling Budget Represents Just 5% of Transport Budget

Recently-published figures by The Treasury have cast doubt on the claims of some local politicians that Bristol is planning to spend too much on cycling.  The Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis for 2014 show that total public spending on transport in 2013/14 was £22.2bn – equivalent to £315 per person.[i]  The Draft Bristol Cycling Strategy is planning to spend £7m per year, equivalent to £16 per head.[ii]  Some local politicians have criticised the budget, describing it as “unrealistic” and calling for the money to be spent on rail instead.[iii] Steve Melia, spokesman for the Living Heart for Bristol* and a Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning at UWE explained: “Across the UK, public spending on transport was £315 per person last year.  Most of that money is spent centrally on roads and railways.  Less than a quarter was spent by local authorities.  By contrast money for cycling, or for improvements to the pedestrian environment, are almost entirely spent locally.  If you look at the local budgets in isolation the small sums of money for cycling or walking may seem much bigger than they really are.  Bristol is planning to spend more than most British cities on cycling infrastructure but measured per head it only represents about 5% of transport spending – when 8% of journeys are made by bike.  We would certainly like to see more investment in the rail network, but sums of this size are peanuts compared to the rail or road budgets.  To give just one example, the two extra tracks from Filton to Temple Meads are expected to cost £50 million.  In any debate about spending on cycling or pedestrian improvements, we should never lose sight of that bigger picture.” Martin Tweddell of the Bristol Cycling Campaign added: “In this context it's worth reminding some of our local politicians that we all pay for the roads through general taxation.  There is no such thing as ‘road tax’ – it was abolished in 1937.  Vehicle Excise Duty (the tax disc) is a tax on pollution – it has nothing to do with roads.  The least polluting cars are exempt.  Roads, railways and cycle paths are all financed from general taxation, so the argument that motorists pay for the roads is an urban myth.”

Drivers Ignoring Pedestrians Only Signs in Old City

Living Heart for Bristol has produced shocking video evidence that drivers are routinely ignoring the pedestrians-only signs on the entries to the Old City on Friday and Saturday evenings.  The centre of the Old City, which is supposed to be traffic-free is full of moving vehicles. A second short video shows drivers ignoring the signs and turning into St. Nicholas Street at around 9pm on Saturday August 2nd. The streets of the Old City have been designated as pedestrian only on Friday and Saturday evenings for many years.  The entry to the streets used to be controlled by rising bollards, but following maintenance problems the Council has stopped using these, relying instead on signs which tell drivers when they are allowed or not allowed to enter. Spokesman Steve Melia said: "The Council took a step forward by pedestrianising Corn Street on Saturday and Sunday daytimes, but they have taken a big step backwards by allowing traffic to enter the Old City in the evening.   These streets are pedestrianised for a good reason. Later in the evening those streets are full of people moving between pubs and clubs; many of them have had quite a bit to drink.  With cars moving between them, the atmosphere can get very threatening. Replacing the rising bollards with signs telling drivers what times they can enter was an interesting experiment but it has clearly failed.  The law is not being respected.   That leaves two options to enforce the law: start handing out fixed penalties, or bring back the bollards.  We would prefer the bollards, or something like them."        

Does Bristol Need a Showground?

The Living Heart for Bristol* has welcomed Bristol City Council’s announcement that they are looking for a new venue for next year’s Love Saves the Day festival.  The Living Heart campaign had criticised the impact of the security measures in Castle Park on pedestrians, cyclists and local residents.  The organisers of the festival have apologised for the damage caused to the park by the big turnout after heavy rainfall.  The Living Heart has suggested that Bristol needs a ‘showground’ – a permanent hard-surfaced area for large outdoor events (apart from free events, which can be staged at places like Millennium Square).  They have called for ideas and a public debate on what might be possible. Spokesman Steve Melia said: “Our original statement really polarised opinion in the city.  Many people strongly agreed with us.  Others enjoyed the festival and thought we were out to stop it, which we certainly weren’t.   Bristol’s festivals are a great strength.  They are growing in size and number.  We believe the city now needs a permanent space for outdoor events – a showground like many other cities have. The Mayor and the Council have plans for an indoor arena, which we appreciate, but that will be expensive and may take time.  In the meantime, a tiny fraction of that money could provide proper toilets, drinking water and electricity on a hard surface, resistant to wet weather.   The site would need to be well served by public transport.  Somewhere near Temple Meads, possibly in the Enterprise Zone would be ideal.  There may be other possibilities.  What do people think?   ENDS *    The Living Heart for Bristol aims to improve the central areas of Bristol and create new public space by removing through traffic, whilst retaining access for all.  It was created by the following 8 organisations: Bristol Cycling Campaign, Bristol Green Capital, Bristol Living Streets, Carfree Bristol, Friends of the Earth, the Open Spaces Society, Bristol Ramblers Group and Streets Alive.  Ten other organisations and two MPs have endorsed its declaration – shown on

End the Siege of Castle Park

The original press release below has generated quite a reaction, some positive some negative.   To be clear: we are not opposed to music festivals in central Bristol.  We believe that a better solution needs to be found to managing this one.  And we need more space, and more suitable space for events in central Bristol. [gallery ids="666,667"] Overnight, a park with footpaths and cycle routes is sealed off.  People arrive next morning to find their routes blocked by 7 foot high steel fences patrolled by security guards.  Is this the Crimea? The West Bank? No – Castle Park in Bristol. In preparation for a weekend music festival (Love Saves the Daytickets £39.50 to £59.50) Castle Park has been sealed off for a whole week.  The heavily used footpath and cycle route from Bristol Bridge to Old Market has been closed with diversions onto busy roads including Newgate, Wine Street and Victoria Street. The Living Heart for Bristol, whose members include walking and cycling groups has criticised the closure and called for the policy to be reviewed for next year. Spokesman Steve Melia said: “The organisers of other events like the Harbour Festival and Pride manage to stage music festivals without closing vital routes for pedestrians and cyclists.   Parks should be for everyone.  To close a park for a week for something lasting two days is ridiculous.  For anyone trying to walk from Temple Meads to Broadmead, for example, this puts in a really big detour.  If the organisers of this event need this sort of military-style security, the Council should not allow them to sever vital routes for pedestrians and cyclists.  A better arrangement or a different location must be found for next year. Maybe if we had more spaces for public events in the city centre, these sorts of problems could be avoided Martin Tweddell of the Bristol Cycling Campaign said: “This is blocking a vital part of the National Cycle Network route 4.  It’s a long way round on busy main roads.  In a cycling city where we’re supposed to be encouraging people to cycle to take away a vital link like this is appalling.” Ciaran Mundy of Transition Town Bristol added: "public space, especially green space within Bristol is in very short supply, but essential for enjoyment of day to day life in the city. Festivals too are a vital part of the cities culture and the right sites should be picked to ensure that access to parks and other public spaces is maintained for everyone, especially during the summer months and we avoid cyclists and those on foot being pushed towards hazardous and  busy fume filled roads."

Metrobus Planning Application – Object to the New Road

The Living Heart for Bristol* has called on its supporters to call for changes to the planning application for Metrobus, which would build a new road across The Centre of Bristol.  The recently published planning application for the North Fringe to Hengrove route is proposing a new road opposite the Hippodrome, linking Park Street to Baldwin Street (see plan).  The Living Heart has previously called for the Eastern end of Baldwin Street to be pedestrianised with a cycle lane (see diagram on website).  They are calling on supporters to object to the new road, and support the pedestrianisation instead.    They are also calling for Prince Street Bridge to be made for pedestrians, cyclists and buses only. The original bus rapid transit scheme proposed by Bristol City Council in 2009 did not include a new road, and would have closed the link from The Centre to Baldwin Street for general traffic.  It was also proposed to remove general traffic from Prince Street Bridge, but both elements have been changed since then. Spokesman for the Living Heart for Bristol said: “There is a great opportunity here to improve the quality of life in our city centre, which will be missed if this new road is built.  When we did street surveys during the Make Sunday Special last year, we found most people supported the idea of pedestrianising the top end of Baldwin Street.  Our suggestions will create a ‘quality of life bonus’ for the City Centre, which will benefit everyone.”   Note for Editors The original proposal for the Metrobus passing through the city centre followed the suggestion by Cllr. John Rogers, who was the councillor responsible for transport at the time.  This would have removed the traffic which flows between The Centre and Baldwin Street as illustrated on this page. *    The Living Heart for Bristol aims to improve the central areas of Bristol and create new public space by removing through traffic, whilst retaining access for all.  It was created by the following 8 organisations: Bristol Cycling Campaign, Bristol Green Capital, Bristol Living Streets, Carfree Bristol, Friends of the Earth, the Open Spaces Society, Bristol Ramblers Group and Streets Alive.  Ten other organisations as well as the Mayor and two MPs, have endorsed its declaration – shown on  

Sticky: Separation of Pedestrians and Cyclists

British urban designers, and many transport planners, believe that pedestrians and cyclists should always, or nearly always share the same space.  This policy has been damaging for cities like Bristol, causing many unnecessary conflicts.  European cities have shown us a better way. [gallery ids="628,629,646"] Sharing is acceptable where there is enough space, and numbers of cyclists or pedestrians are low.  Where volumes are high, and space is limited, separation is better.  If space is in short supply, planners should look to remove space from general traffic rather than squeezing cyclists and pedestrians together.  Shared pavements should only be used as a last resort.  Cycle routes need to be direct.  If they are designed with big detours, this will lead to short-cutting and more conflict. Here are several places where we believe better separation between cyclists and pedestrians should be a top priority:


Broadmead Suggestion         The current situation is not working well.  A better solution would provide a contraflow lane as shown in red, plus a cycle path as shown in blue.

The Centre

[gallery ids="637,634"] The Centre and the city end of Baldwin Street need a complete redesign (see our previous post).  This should remove through traffic and provide separate cycle routes like the ones on College Green and Castle Park instead of the current free-for-all.

Bristol to Bath Cycle Path

The Bristol to Bath cycle path has become a victim of its own success.  It was a brilliant idea when it first opened, so much so that the city end is now congested in the rush hour.  Some stretches of this are particularly narrow.  We should follow the examples of Dutch cycling cities, like Groningen and Zwolle, widening the path and creating a separate pavement for the first mile through Lawrence Hill and Easton. [gallery ids="639,638"]

Old Market

The draft neighbourhood plan for Old Market  is proposing to narrow Old Market from four to two lanes, which we support (see diagram in The Post).  This would concentrate more traffic onto those two lanes.  Amazingly, this includes no provision for cycling.  Cycle lanes or paths must be provided as part of this plan.    

Central Area Action Plan – Could be Strengthened

Consultation has recently closed on Bristol's Central Area Action Plan. Living Heart for Bristol has welcomed some aspects of the draft plan such as:
  • The principle of traffic removal within the inner access loop route,
  • The support for carfree development
We opposed the plans to build on the green areas of Castle Park (see the website of the Castle Park User Group).  We note that the Mayor has said he does not support what was written in the draft report and trust that it will be changed in the next version. We have also called for the Council to bring forward more specific proposals e.g. for streets to be pedestrianised Read the Living Heart's response
The Living Heart for Bristol campaign aims to improve the central areas of Bristol & create new public space by diverting through traffic.
Follow us Facebook Twiter