Blog

27Sep

Old City: Bollards Needed to Enforce the Law

The weekend pedestrianisation of Corn Street is being ignored by many motorists according to the Living Heart for Bristol*, which has called for action to enforce the law.  There are two problems, both related to motorists ignoring signs. The Old City has been closed to motor traffic on Friday and Saturday evenings for many years.  This was controlled by rising bollards on St Nicholas Street, which have not been working recently.  They were replaced by signs telling motorists the street is closed on Friday and Saturday evenings.  Unfortunately, many drivers are ignoring the signs and driving into the Old City. [caption id="attachment_612" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Entrance to St Nicholas Street from Wine Street"]Entrance to St Nicholas Street from Wine Street[/caption]                 Secondly, the recent decision to pedestrianise Corn Street on Saturdays and Sundays is also being ignored by many motorists The Council puts plastic bollards across Corn Street for part of the time, but these are removed on Sunday afternoons when the Council staff finish their shift.  The road signs say “pedestrian zone” on Saturdays (up to 8pm) and on Sundays.  When the plastic bollards are removed, many motorists - like the ones below - are ignoring the signs .   Spokesman Steve Melia said: “I have seen cars trying to move between drunken revellers on those streets on a Friday and Saturday night – not a pretty sight! The Council needs to make the situation clearer, and motorists need to respect the signs.  Physical barriers make things clearer than signs, which motorists don’t always read.  Parking fines and fixed penalties should be a last resort.  Rising bollards are much clearer.  We understand they can be difficult to maintain, but we would rather see them repaired. Either way, if we want safer streets, the law must be enforced.”                    
07Sep

Baldwin Street Cycle Route – Pedestrianisation a Better Alternative

The Living Heart for Bristol has responded to a Council consultation on a ‘Dutch style’ cycle route along Baldwin Street with an alternative proposal, to pedestrianise part of Baldwin Street, with a cycle route through it, instead. The consultation proposed to extend the existing cycle path at the Eastern end of Baldwin Street (near Bristol Bridge) across the junction with Queen Charlotte Street, after which it would end with cyclists returning to the road.  It is being proposed to reduce cycling casualties at that junction and is intended to form part of a “network of ‘8-80 inclusive’ infrastructure (meaning anyone from the age of 8 to 80 will be able to use it to get around the city)”. The Living Heart’s alternative follows the proposal made by the Executive Member for Transport in 2009, to remove the link for through traffic between The Centre and Baldwin Street.  The Western end of Baldwin Street, between The Centre and the junction with Marsh Street, would be pedestrianised, with a cycle route running through it.  This would have the effect of removing through traffic from Baldwin Street, turning it into a quieter street, where a separate cycle route would no longer be necessary. Spokesman Steve Melia said: “This type of Dutch-style cycle path is generally a good idea, along main roads where you can’t do very much to reduce or remove the traffic.  But as it stands, this proposal doesn’t make much sense.  A cyclist coming from The Centre would have to cross over two streams of traffic to reach the path which would only run for a few hundred yards.  Our suggestion would be cheaper, more effective and benefit everyone: pedestrians as well as cyclists.  It would build on the experience of the Make Sundays Special, improve the environment of the city centre, and reduce through traffic across the whole of the central areas of the city.  It’s not just our idea – something very similar was suggested by John Rogers, when he was in charge of Transport.  It made a lot of sense then, and it still does now.  The whole of this area is under review for the Metrobus.  We hope the Mayor will look again at those ideas.” [gallery link="file" columns="2"] Western end of Baldwin Street during the first Make Sundays Special and a map of the Living Heart's Proposal    
25Jul

Let Parks be Parks!

These two photographs shows the state of Castle Park after repeated weekend events, in July, and College Green earlier in the year: [gallery link="file" columns="2"] The grass had scarely begun to recover from events on previous weekends before the vans and lorries were rolling over Castle Park again.  As the Council's open spaces department has come under more pressure to make money, green spaces like Castle Park and College Green are coming under increasing pressure. The Living Heart for Bristol has called for more hard-standing space to be provided for events in the central areas, and to 'let parks be parks' to preserve the few green spaces for quieter time out in the city centre.  
23Jun

Carfree Sunday Brings 3 to 1 Support for Permanent Pedestrianisation

People enjoying Bristol’s first carfree Sunday agreed by a margin of three to one that they “would like to see some of the roads round here permanently closed to through traffic”.   The survey, conducted by supporters of the Living Heart for Bristol during the event found 99 in favour, 33 against and 13 don’t knows.  Seventy more people joined the Living Heart’s supporters list, to press the Council and the Mayor for permanent change. Critics who claimed it would be bad for business were proved totally wrong as crowds filled the streets, bars, cafes and shops.  This photograph was taken on Corn Street around 1pm: Corn Street - Carfree Sunday Corn Street and Baldwin Street were full of pedestrians, including many visitors, who had made the trip specially to see the city free from traffic.  Here is a sample of their comments:
  • “We came from Portishead especially for this. It should be all year round.”
  • “I'm visiting from Australia. I think it's fantastic - never seen anything like it!”
  • “Definitely think they  should permanently close Corn Street - there's a lot happening, it's a real buzz.”
  • “We're tourists from Latvia. In Riga, they're having a big festival like this today, they do this kind of thing all the time. I think you should do it more often.”
  • “I'm from Birmingham.   You definitely need to reduce the city centre traffic, the      pedestrianisation of Birmingham city centre definitely boosts footfall.”
Spokesman Steve Melia said: “What a fantastic start to the Make Sunday Special.  We were delighted with the response we got from people out on the streets.  This was really good for business.  Any shops, cafes or bars who were open today were doing a roaring trade.  And most of the public agree with us that through traffic should be permanently removed from these streets.” Steve Ward, who conducted some of the interviews said: “We were really struck by the number of visitors this event pulled into Bristol, and how many different traders had set up around Corn Street. As in Bath, Broadmead and Bordeaux, opening up busy streets to large numbers of pedestrians is good for business and for tourism. We need to make the Old City a special destination for traders and visitors, not just on Sundays but all year round.”  
14Jun

Carfree Sundays: Let’s Follow Paris to Permanent Change

The first of the ‘Make Sunday Special’ carfree days in the city centre will take place on June 23rd 2013.  The Living Heart for Bristol has welcomed the move with a call for Bristol to follow the example of Paris, where carfree Sundays led to the permanent creation of a carfree area along the River Seine earlier this year. Spokesman Steve Melia said: “The Mayor should be congratulated for this bold step forward.  Once people have seen this part of the city centre free from traffic, we think they will want to see more of it.  Once businesses see how they benefit from more people on the streets, we think they will want more of it.  We would like to see through traffic permanently removed from some of the streets, starting with the pedestrianisation of Corn Street.  We should learn from the experience of Paris.  These temporary closures will provide useful experience for the Council’s transport planners, to work out how and where this might be done.” The city of Paris began experimenting with road closures in the central areas from 2002, leading to the permanent removal of traffic and creation of a green way along the River Seine in January this year:  http://www.thelocal.fr/20130128/paris-left-bank-closes-to-traffic. The trial pedestrianisation of Corn Street, which was announced earlier this year has been delayed because of issues relating to the demolition of the Old Magistrates Court.  It is the declared plan of the Mayor to proceed with the trial pedestrianisation, but no date has been confirmed yet. Notes:   The area to be closed to traffic can be viewed here: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/leisure_and_culture/leisure_events/make-sundays-special-flyer_0.pdf    
10Feb

Sticky: Old City Pedestrianisation

Update June 2013: Following negotiations with the Courts service, the Council has been unable to go ahead with the full trial while the redevelopment of the Old Magistrates Court is underway.  This is expected to take around 2 years.  In the meantime, Corn Street will be pedestrianised at weekends, parking will be removed, and the right turn from St. Nicholas Street into Corn Street will be banned.  This is a small step forward, but some way short of what we would like to see.  See the details: Update from the Council June 2013  Update May 2013: an unfortunate problem has occurred.  The proposed demolition of the Old Magistrates Court is threatening to delay the plans.  Negotiations are continuing.  Read the Living Heart's report into the problem. Update February 2013: Following the public responses to the consultation, the Council has now proposed a trial, which largely follows the Living Heart for Bristol's alternative proposals (see below).  Read the story in The Post.

Summary of the Council's New Proposals

Map Showing the Council's Revised Proposals

Background: In 2012 the Council consulted on proposals for some minor changes to the Old City streets.  The Living Heart for Bristol proposed a more radical alternative, involving an extension to the pedestrianised area of Corn Street.  This found favour with the public in a consultation, and with most of the Old City Traders when it was first presented to them (although more recently, a couple have begun to voice some opposition). Link to the Council's Original Consultation Draft The Living Heart's Alternatives Summary diagram Read our detailed response to the Council's proposals 70% Of the Public Support the Living Heart for Bristol's Proposal - see the questionnaire of shoppers and stallholders conducted on November 3rd.. [gallery link="file" columns="2"]    
18Nov

Sticky: New Mayor Endorses the Living Heart for Bristol

The Living Heart for Bristol welcomes the election of George Ferguson as Mayor of Bristol, and looks forward to working with him to make Bristol City Centre a better place for everyone.  In the run-up to the election, this is how George responded when we asked him to endorse our declaration of principles:

"You have my wholehearted support for this declaration which I have just re-read and find myself in full agreement with. It fully fits my approach to environment, economy, health and transport and I am intimately aware of all the cities that you mention, including Groningen & Copenhagen both of which I have studied and made films of for the BBC.  I would like to think as an independent with a can do attitude I am in a stronger position to work with Living Heart than any party candidate. This scores very high on my agenda and you have my permission to add my name as a supporter on your website."

 George Ferguson and other candidates at the departure of Living Heart's Bristol to Bordeaux Bike Ride

19Aug

MAYORAL CANDIDATES SUPPORT THE LIVING HEART FOR BRISTOL

Several candidates for the mayor of Bristol have endorsed the Living Heart for Bristol's declaration of principles.  See the list on our Aims and Declarations page. (more…)
17Jul

Air Pollution – Victims to be Fined for Threats to their Own Health

The Living Heart for Bristol* has called on the City Council, and candidates for the mayoral elections to explain how they will improve air quality in the city, following the European Commission’s recent threat to prosecute the UK Government over air pollution in 12 cities including Bristol.  The Commission recently rejected a request by the UK Government for an extension to the 2010 deadline for complying with European limits on air pollution[1].  Under the Localism Act, local authorities can now be made to pay fines imposed by the European Courts[2]. In a separate decision, on Bristol’s bid for European Green Capital bid, the Commission commended Bristol’s “comprehensive air quality monitoring network”.  This monitoring shows that air pollution in central areas, and along motorways and major roads, frequently exceeds European safe limits.  The European limits were set following international evidence that air pollution causes: heart disease, lung disease and early deaths[3].  The main problem highlighted by the European Commission is nitrogen dioxide from vehicle emissions. Spokesman for the Living Heart for Bristol, Steve Melia said: “It’s ironic that the European Commission is praising Bristol for its air quality monitoring at the same time as threatening to prosecute the UK Government over air pollution here.  And the victims – the people of Bristol – could be fined, through the council tax, because these levels of pollution are threatening our own health! The challenge for councillors and mayoral candidates is to say: what will you do to protect the health of our citizens living in central areas, and near the main roads? Our proposals to remove through traffic from the central areas will also reduce traffic on the main roads leading to and from the city centre, and encourage walking and cycling.  These must all be part of any solution to the scandal of dangerous air pollution here in Bristol.”   *    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 www.livingheart.org.uk.
03Jul

Consultation on Bus Rapid Transit and City Centre Changes

A consultation is running (until July 13th)  on part of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit for Bristol, which will have important implications for the city centre and the Living Heart campaign. We have two important concerns: Comments on Zone 5 (city centre): The plans to remodel the city centre, as suggested, would be a lost opportunity.  They would spend a lot of public money to achieve very little improvement in the pedestrian experience.  The new direct road from Baldwin Street to the Hippodrome would make that part even worse than it is at present.  I/we support the proposals of the Living Heart for Bristol and believe the Council’s objective should be to remove through traffic from the city centre.  I/we believe the Council should return to the original proposals made by Cllr. Rogers in 2009 on: http://askbristoldebates.com/2009/12/31/city-centre-re-modelling/ Comments on Zone 2 (Stoke Gifford transport link): As proposed, these plans would open up a new, fast, route for general traffic to drive from Bradley Stoke to central Bristol along the M32.  The new route created for cars would be faster than the rather convoluted one planned for the BRT.  This would undermine one of the main stated objectives of this scheme and the Joint Local Transport Plan to reduce carbon emissions and congestion.  Any local congestion benefits (around Parkway Station, for example) would be displaced onto the ringroad, the M32 and central Bristol The solution to this problem is very simple: a bus gate on the new road between Bradley Stoke and Hambrook Lane.  This would return the scheme to what it was intended to be: a plan to promote and encourage public transport, by giving a significant time advantage to the bus.  This would help to reduce the costs of the scheme, as making that section for buses only would allow it to be narrowed.
The Living Heart for Bristol campaign aims to improve the central areas of Bristol & create new public space by diverting through traffic.
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