Prince Street runs North-South and crosses one of Bristol’s several waters on a swing bridge, helpfully known as “Prince Street Bridge”. The bridge is guarded by traffic lights and is sometimes closed to all traffic (even bicycles) and swung round to allow boats to pass along the channel. The first picture in this sequence, with its bright yellow bendy bus, looks north from the bridge itself. Local political processes are currently struggling to decide on how or whether to make this bridging place part of a new scheme for bottling quarts of travellers into pints of road space.
My narrower interest in Prince Street Bridge is in the pedantic but immediate question of how I should use it as a considerate cyclist. Let’s imagine I am crossing it from the south.
Picture 2 shows my approach. Ahead of me is a blocked advisory cycle lane, traffic lights, swing bridge lights, some cast-iron bollards and a Shared Space sign. A black car has moved across the centre line and is waiting for a green light before moving into the right hand lane and crossing the bridge.
Inching past the parked van, another vehicle is parked in front of it. The black car is still waiting for the green light to cross where oncoming vehicles are currently moving. My cycle/pedestrian route seems to be between cast-iron bollards. I notice that the bollard directing the car is plastic and well-lit.
Moving up to the line I see that another cyclist is using this side of the bridge and that the road-painted symbols indicate pedestrians and cyclists can use the whole lane.
Looking back I can see the end of the advisory cycle lane emerging from underneath the van and car. On another day that would be the approach I should adopt. I also note the wisdom of high-visibility clothing.
Picture 6 show the view from the opposite side of the bridge. It looks south. Traffic lights and bollards reflect those on the other side. There is an advance stop line for cyclists to get ahead of the pack. but it is not very clear. The bike symbol itself is very faded.
Looking back there are marks leading up to the bridge that might once have been an advisory cycle lane across the cobbles. Back at the junction we can see a hint of a bike symbol on the tarmac that might confirm the hypothesis. The row of bollards is impressive. Its lack of reflective properties rather less so. Let’s see how a cyclist negotiates this northern approach.
During my brief observation this crossover tactic was used many times. The nearside cycle lane in ignored and the cyclist crosses the road to go “contraflow”. Here is an interesting example of the same thing:
While his mate has cut across early, a second cyclist, pushing a third bike, is manoeuvring towards the lethal bollards. A motor cyclist is waiting at the white line in front of the traffic lights.
And a final hurrah from a determined pavementeer. Wobbling past me ( I was standing on the footpath) he wobbled off into a happy cluster of pedestrians.
The conclusion I draw from this (and so many episodes around Bristol) is that many accommodations have been made for cyclists at the expense of creating further conflicts that can only be resolved with ingenuity and/or unpredictability. It would be nice if the next wave of progress is done with reference to guidelines that have this kind of muddled situation designed out.