How would you spend £1.1 million on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path?

October 04 2019
How would you spend £1.1 million on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path?

PEOPLE are being urged to say how they think £1.1 million should be spent to improve the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.

Anyone who walks, jogs or cycles on the path, which runs through Fishponds, Whitehall and Redfield, is being invited to help decide the best way of using the money to make it easier to use, reducing the accidents and arguments caused by sharing it.

Charity Sustrans, which has been given funding from the Department for Transport, also wants to hear from people who want to use the path but are currently put off, to find out what would make it accessible.

The consultation comes as the path prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Sustrans' James Cleeton said the improvements would be a 'community-led redesign', focussing on the busiest stretch of the path between Fishponds and Whitehall, used by 1,000 people per hour in the morning and evening rush.

He said: "It's not for me to say what it's going to look like, it's about the people who use the path, their experience of using it and how they would like to see it improved to make it better for everyone."

A survey of 1,500 path users found the five most popular suggestions for improving the path were to widen it, segregate walkers and cyclists, improve signage and lighting and to install calming measures to slow speeding cyclists at certain points.

But James said it was up to people who used the path to make hard choices about how it should change.

He said: "You can't widen it everywhere and even where you can, that might take away some of the greenery that people find really important.

"But we're at the point where we can't do nothing. We've got the opportunity to improve it and we need to make sure nobody feels excluded – some people do and they're the ones who would benefit from it the most."

James said the path was beyond its capacity in the area around Whitehall and Easton, where from 8-9am and 5-6pm each day, "1,000 people per hour are using a three-metre strip of tarmac".

Among the spots with the most problems are the Clay Bottom s-bend and the tunnel where the path passes under St Philip's Causeway.

Sustrans has already been working to "reduce conflict" between users of the path with its One Path Initiative.

It is planning a series of workshops for people to share ideas on the best way to improve the path, starting with a meeting on Friday October 18 at Easton Community Centre in Kilburn Street. People can drop in between 4pm and 9pm, and there will be a presentation at 7pm.

James is encouraging all users of the path, whatever area they live in, to come along to the meeting.

He said: "It's a linear park and it belongs as much to the people who live far out as it does to those who live next door – their voices all need to be heard.

"It means so much to so many people – it's up to all of us to come up with the answers."

People can also get involved with the project via the Bristol & Bath Railway Path – OnePath group on Facebook.

Bristol deputy mayor Asher Craig, who is responsible for the city’s parks, said: “I am delighted that this funding has been secured to make improvements to one of the city’s most important commuter routes.

The aim is that any improvements to the route will benefit both pedestrians and cyclists and allow everyone to share the path and feel safe while using it. We are looking forward to working with Sustrans, and the local community, to deliver this project.”

The path's 40th anniversary was being marked with a clean-up at Staple Hill on October 5.