Considerate Cycling 23: an email to city planners in Bristol


This morning I got an email from Steve Melia’s “Living Heart For Bristol” campaign. It was encouraging me to write to Bristol City Council about proposals to improve the part of Bristol that they call the Medieval Core. A lot of this part of the city was bombed in the Second World War, but the street plan and some of the buildings are still there. It’s a fascinating area to walk around, with all kinds of alley ways and hidden treasures.

The question at issue is the possibility that motorised traffic might be allowed to drive all the way through the centre of this wonderful area. An added ambiguity is a suggestion of some “shared space”, a phrase that I have had a go at elsewhere. Steve Melia’s response to the whole development is here.

I never like copying pre-prepared messages, so having looked though the consultation document. I wrote the following email:

Subject: Old City Consultation

To: citydesigngroup@bristol.gov.uk

Dear Planners

I have tried to have a good look at the pdf file (Old City Final Consolation Draft) outlining changes proposed for a renewed Old City. The first thing to say is that the pdf file is very unwieldy on my laptop screen and relatively low on detail so I might be making a point that is based on my misunderstanding of what is being suggested.

I am generally sympathetic to the descriptive analysis of the current situation and of the aspirations for improvement. Bristol has a splendid resource in these old streets and could do a lot more to make them more attractive, more accessible, more visible and therefore more valuable than they currently are.

The greatest concern I have with what I can guess from the consultation booklet is the long diagonal south west to north east corridor – including Corn Street. It looks as though that might be left open to through traffic, allowing cars and other vehicles to use some, or all, of it to drive through the area. This seems unnecessary and at odds with the character and purposes of that part. Arrangements to allow access and loading for some vehicles clearly need to be made – but these would best be tightly controlled and limited. Full pedestrianisation of the whole section would be the best solution, with adequate cycle parking at all access points. There seems little point in encouraging shared cycle/pedestrian space. This just makes life difficult for pedestrians and offers no great advantage to cyclists on longer journeys. (I cycle and walk in and around Bristol on a daily basis).

With this anxiety in mind, I wish you every success with the development – it should be a great boost to the commercial and cultural life of the City.

Yours sincerely

Sam Saunders

One thing I should emphasise is how HARD it was to read the consulation report – shuffling it around and flipping between magnification levels to try to move between text, image and street plan.

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