£3.4m for bus lanes: 'a waste of money'
By Keri Beckingham
PLANS for new cycling and bus lanes for the A4018 have been announced after £3.4m worth of funding was secured.
In 2019, Bristol City Council announced that proposals for the A4018 (which encompasses Wyck Beck Road, Passage Road, Falcondale Road and Westbury Road as it travels from north Bristol to the city centre) had been designed to help keep traffic flowing and improve public transport reliability along one of the most important routes into central Bristol.
Proposed improvements included adding inbound and outbound bus lanes, and creating junctions with traffic lights to support traffic flow. The proposals were mainly focused south of Crow Lane roundabout, and the council said that they were also looking at plans to improve the vitality of Westbury Village by removing the rat-running traffic that travels through the centre of the village daily, something that had caused concern for those that live and work in the area.
Following a consultation, which received many objections, the council has amended its plans. The new proposals include the creation of a segregated cycle path and a new bus stop, and in February the council secured the regional funding from the West of England Combined Authority (Weca), which involves Bristol, B&NES and South Gloucestershire Councils working together.
Now Travelwest is consulting on the West of England Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which has been put together by Weca as part of the overall transport plan for the region. Although the designs for the scheme have been created and funding has been approved, the plans still need to get through statutory consultation before they get given the go-ahead.
Commenting on the plans, Geoff Gollop, Conservative Councillor for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze said: “You would think, after the chaos of last year’s consultation, that the council might want to do better this time round. But far from it, as hidden in the papers for the West of England Combined Authority meeting on 31 January we found spending proposals for the A4018. Bristol City Council officers “forgot” to consult with councillors or residents before passing them to Weca.
“The good news is that the crossing on Passage Road, by Shipley Road is included, but the proposal is flawed in many ways. Outbound, the bus lane will cause queues on the Passage Road dual carriageway, which will reach back to Falcondale Road, thus making it impossible for buses to get to the start of the bus lane.
“Inbound the bus lane is after all the congestion at Crow Lane roundabout and will do nothing to improve the journey from Cribbs. Far from improving traffic flow, this is sadly wasting money. The real benefit could be achieved outbound by a short bus lane from Dragonswell Road to Crow Lane, as inbound there is no need for a lane at all, and the money saved could be spent on other much needed projects.”
Also commenting on the proposed new bus and cycle lanes on the Brentry part of Passage Road between the Crow Lane roundabout and the top of the hill at Northover Road, Steve Smith, Conservative Councillor for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze added: “I'm all in favour of investing in public transport and cycling, but this is putting bus lanes on the one part of the road that isn't congested and cycle lanes on a route that very few cyclists use!
“Looking to the future, later phases of the project are likely to include a traffic light crossing near the cemetery on Canford Lane, and potentially new ideas for Westbury Village. The paper talks about a "blank sheet of paper" and says that "re-engagement with local ward members and stakeholders is proposed as part of a co-design exercise to produce ideas that have widespread support in the community". I'm pleased to hear that and I look forward to local people being able to get genuinely involved in the project.”
Commenting on the views of local residents, Hilary Long, Chairman of the Westbury-on-Trym Society (WOTSOC) said:
“What angers people locally is that at no stage have we first been asked to give our views on the A4018 proposals while they were being framed-based on experience of travel and traffic in our own area. All that has happened was an attempt to impose a ludicrous travel plan on Westbury, Henbury, Southmead and Brentry, this time last year, which imprisoned people in their own homes and streets, blocked up essential routes to schools and churches, produced universal outrage and all to serve the interests of South Gloucestershire and Bristol City commuters!”
Alan Aburrow, ex-chairman of the local Neighbourhood Partnership’s Transport Working Group, added: “When closely examining the timetable presented in the WECA Paper, it is obvious that the latest Phase 1 proposals are a “done deal” and any public consultation will just be a whitewash (or should that be “greenwash”) and the proposals will go ahead, as currently planned.
“In fact, the Work Programme included in the Weca Paper indicates that the work will commence in June 2020 and be completed by July 2021. Indeed, the Project Programme indicates that “Tree and vegetation clearance” was scheduled from 3-28 February this year!”
Geoff Carter is a member of the Parish Cycling Group in Westbury-on-Trym, and in regard to the plans he believes that commuting by bike will only take off only if cyclists feel safe. He said: “If public transport and cycling is not given genuine priority we will end up living in a soup of pollution from regularly gridlocked traffic.
“Well thought out infrastructure plans cannot defend cyclists from the weather nor help the unfit ones to cope with the gradients or spare them arriving at work in a sweaty heap. They need waterproof clothing, a fitness plan (or perhaps an e-bike) and a shower room at their destination.”
To find out more about the Travelwest consultation and comment by the deadline of March 15, visit: travelwest.info/projects/transport-consultation