January Update

It’s been a very good first year for Living Streets in Bristol!  Please read on for an update…..

20mph zones
‘DIY’ streets – example from Montpelier
Pedestrian crossing light review
Stapleton Road Consultation
City Centre Consultation
Gating order and PROW
Web/ Yahoogroup
Steering Group

20mph zones
Thanks to all those who made the effort to contact the council over the 20mph pilots. As you are probably aware, we won a resounding victory and almost all the roads the officers wanted excluded are now to be 20mph. In the East Bristol Zone there are no excluded roads northwest of the M32, and southeast of it only the Oldmarket one way system, Easton Way and the A420  are excluded, as far as Redfield.  We owe thanks to Jon Rogers for his firmness on the issue.
I won’t dwell on this as it is now old news but the scale of the change compared to the original proposals is vast: we are now being promised quite a radical scheme by UK standards instead of the mousey Portsmouth ‘side roads only’ plan.
The Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) are being sought, with implementation planned for the spring. There are two important issues to consider: enforcement, and which areas should be next?

Realistically, although the police have agreed to the scheme, we know that police enforcement isn’t going to happen. It will be enforced by the actions of local people:

  • By those that drive at 20 forcing those behind to do likewise
  • By ‘taking over the street – the more people walk and cycle in the road, the more it will feel to drivers that they must drive slowly.
  • By street redesign: the council do not plan to make physical alterations to the roadspace – but we can! See below under ‘DIY streets’.
  • Community Speedwatch – local residents may be equipped with a radar speedgun courtesy of the police

Who’s next for 20mph? The pilot zones will undoubtedly be a success and it is possible the whole city could be included within a few years if we show the council it is popular. The LibDem administration want to identify the next areas and have funding earmarked so why not your area?  Residents in Bishopston, St Andrews, Cotham and Kingsdown have already expressed an interest. Speak to your neighbours, resident groups such as ‘transition’ groups and – obviously – let us know.

DIY streets

Next time you’re in Montpelier have a look at the Thali Corner Improvements which have led to the rediscovery of a long lost pavement: Living Streets held a spoof ‘reopening’ ceremony recently to mark the occasion.

These two inspired pieces of street furniture arose out of discussions at ‘Transition Montpelier’ meetings and were constructed on the day of a Halloween Street Party as part of the road closure…then left in place.  (thanks due to Peter Lipman of Sustrans for his advice on strategy). By stopping parking on the corner, they make crossing easier, stop lorries getting stuck and provide a home for trade bins in the gutter instead of the pavement. The bike racks mean less bikes on the railings obstructing the narrow pavements next to the Thali cafe. Everyone’s a winner!

Unfortunately one resident thought she was a loser, and complained about the loss of ‘valuable parking space’ even though parking on that corner would be in breach of the Highway Code. A council officer phoned the main instigator in a threatening manner: Living Streets intervened and Jon Rogers ‘had a word’ with the relevant officer: the future of this installation now seems secure. The door appears wide open for other areas to do the same, and this is especially relevant as a means of traffic calming in 20mph areas. We have heard Mina Rd residents might be planning something….

Stapleton Rd Consultation

There is a new consultation out with relevance to pedestrians, concerning the part of Stapleton road from Muller Road  adjoining J2 of the M32 to Fishponds Rd (alongside the slip road where 3 pedestrians have been killed). This part of the Frome Cycleway plan and  involves creating a shared space pavement. These are controversial but it is wide and bollards will keep cars off the pavement so generally, this looks at worst neutral and perhaps an improvement for pedestrians. If you use this road regularly, what do you think?

The consultation closes on 15th January 2010.

Lights review

One of our priorities in the Summer was to get changes made to the light controlled crossings across the city, many of which had unacceptable and unneccessarily long crossing times for pedestrians. The council have carried out a review of some crossings  (though how they were chosen is unclear) and reduced the times at many.

The review states:

Key points:

– Review looked at 58 stand-alone UTC/SCOOT pedestrian crossing facilities in the city with the aim of reducing the wait times for pedestrians without greatly increasing congestion to traffic. – Outcome is a reduction in the overall average pedestrian delay from 30 seconds to 16 seconds at these junctions.

– Further reviews of signalling being planned.

Sadly, the review was apparently carried out at a junior level and although there are improvements at many crossings, those causing the most complaints – the three across Newfoundland Way between Cabot Circus and St Pauls – were not included. Another much maligned crossing, outside Brown’s at the Triangle, was included but no changes were made as it was thought the impact on congestion would be too great. The crossing where Baldwin St joins the centre, notorious due to 3 fatalities, was not included either..

Conclusion – if you have a ‘bete noir’ crossing then we need to hear about it – and also is there someone who would like to take a lead on this?.

City Centre changes
The Council say they want a debate about how best to redesign the city centre ‘let’s open the debate about transport’, which is very welcome, and Jon Rogers’ team do seem genuinely open to ideas from the public. The reason for the redesign is of course to accommodate the Bus Rapid Transit from Ashton Vale,  on which opinion is divided. Leaving that aside, there is an opportunity for improvements to the city centre for pedestrians. The consequences for displaced traffic  will need thinking though carefully.
Please follow the link above and via that you will find the ‘Ask Bristol’ site with lots of interesting comments. Chris Hutt has put an excellent analysis on his Green Bristol blog too. We have seen before with the 20mph campaign that a sizeable number of pro-pedestrian comments help to support those pushing a pro-walking and -cycling agenda in this city so please leave a comment.

Gating Orders and Public Rights of Way (PROW)
Bristol City Council are poised to use a ‘Gating Order’ for the first time, to restrict access to an alleyway between Oldbury Park Road and Vassals Road in Fishponds. This PROW is heavily used by locals including lots of mothers with young children to get to school, but is also the site of several incidents of antisocial behaviour.
The Gating will restrict access to key holding local residents. On Living Streets’ behalf, I objected, (as did other organsiations) asking for gating of side alleys. The original officers’ report agreed with us and recommended that no Gating Order was made: unfortunately David Bishop has overruled it after pro-gate residents lobbied Jon Rogers. This isnt the end of the matter – several residents oppose the gating order (though a minority) and the effect of Gating is uncertain.
If anyone lives in Fishponds, uses this route or simply has an interest in this issue, please let us know.

Other issues
The last city centre meeting was attended by 10 people. Neil Harrison gave a presentation about the forthcoming Walking Strategy and strengthening of Parking Enforcement. We will be invited to comment on the draft walking strategy when it is ready. I had hoped to include an item on Barriers to Walking in Easton/ Lawrence Hill as several supporters have called for us to do something about the lack of a street level crossing of Easton Way between Stapleton Rd and Church Rd, but no-one from the area attended.
Consequently we have had a rethink: although we now have 78 bristol supporters, citywide meetings are not effective. We are effective at campaigning more locally, as the paragraphs above indicate, and can usefully influence Bristol wide issues like the centre resign via email. Consequently, we think the way forward may be to have local, issue related meetings as the need arises, and stop holding city centre meetings. Easton supporters are forming a ‘cell’ for this reason so if you want to be included, please let us know.

We could easily develop a blog-style website for free. If you don’t already, look at Green Bristol Blog (excellent current blog on lack of gritting of pavements) and Bristol Traffic (the key people in both are supporters of Living Streets Bristol and we wouldn’t be looking to duplicate their styles)

YahooGroup’ anyone?
Currently our supporters cannot contact each other as we use ‘blind’ emailing to preserve confidentiality. It is possible to set up a group so that those who want to be able to contact others can do so. If you are interested, please let us know.

Steering Group
Our steering Group needs re-energising.The number of possible issues Living Streets could take on is greatly in excess of the time the steering group can devote.
If you want to make 2010 the year you made a bigger contribution to our efforts to improve the city, please let us know.


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