Council unveils improvements for safer travel in Bristol

A package of major transport improvements to “get Bristol moving safely and quickly” have been unveiled by the city council in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures aim to pave the way for safer and better public transport, cleaner air and improved walking and cycling routes.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, announced yesterday (13 May) the council would be pressing forward with “existing long-term transport plans to make navigating the city safer”.

Priority will be given to public transport, taxis, cycles and pedestrians travelling through the central area of Bristol.

It’s also hoped neighbourhoods will become more people friendly, with more “liveable streets” and less traffic on local roads.

The proposed changes include:

  • Pedestrianising the Old City area of Bristol – by restricting vehicles during core business hours.
  • Introducing a bus priority route over Bristol Bridge and at the entrance to Baldwin Street – This will help establish more reliable bus journeys and dedicated walking and cycling areas. The route will be closed to general through-traffic.
  • New sustainable transport, walking and cycling upgrades in central areas – including Marlborough Street, Park Row, Victoria Street, Lewins Mead, Stokes Croft and the Clifton Triangle.
  • Pavement widening across the city for local shopping areas to enable social distancing – including Bedminster Parade, Stapleton Road, St Marks Road and Clifton Village.
  • Working with bus providers to ensure social distancing – looking at how they prioritise key workers to give them reassurance they can get to work.
  • Issuing new guidelines to taxi and private vehicles, working with taxi representatives  – including cleaning and infection prevention measures.
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Proposed changes to Old City area, Baldwin Street and Bristol Bridge

Many of these schemes were previously mapped out through the £400m infrastructure programme in the regional Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

Extra funding is expected from central Government, which promised £250m for regions for specific Covid-19 interventions to enable safer walking and cycling.

Mayor Marvin Rees said: “Bristol can emerge from this crisis in a more inclusive and sustainable way by improving access to public transport and introducing safer areas to walk and cycle.

“Action we take now will contribute to reducing air pollution, improving people movement for all Bristolians and encouraging alternative sustainable ways to travel…

“Many of us have already embraced more walking and cycling journeys and, whilst it is understandable bus usage has dropped, we want to protect the long-term viability of our public transport services because of their intrinsic value to communities across the city.”

Bristol City Council is exploring experimental traffic orders and says there will be “full conversations” with the community before “permanent decisions are made”.

The council is expected to announce timescales for delivering the changes over the next couple of weeks. Plans for the city centre are being fast tracked and could be completed by late summer.