Road could be closed to through traffic - if residents agree
A ROAD in Fishponds plagued by speeding traffic could be closed to through traffic – if residents agree.
People living on Ridgeway Road and surrounding streets are being asked to get involved in a project under the council's Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme to make it safer.
One of the options would be to close the road, which runs between Fishponds Road and Lodge Causeway, to through traffic at the narrow bridge over the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
A survey of residents is planned to find out the level of support for closing the road on a trial basis, and to look for alternative suggestions.
Two meetings to discuss traffic issues on the street were held before lockdown and the latest ideas for moving ahead were unveiled at a video meeting for residents in September, held by the Ridgeway Positive Action Group.
The latest meeting was organised by group member Mary Stevens, who said: "In the context of the covid and climate emergencies it's never been more important to find ways to make it easier and safer for people to make short journeys on foot or by bike.
"Like many residents, I really worry about my child cycling on the road, especially over the bridge, where traffic comes very fast.
"There is a real opportunity now to trial solutions to deter the speeding through-traffic and HGVs, and create positive change.
"But of course it's really important we hear views from the whole neighbourhood, which is why it's important that as many people as possible respond to the survey."
The group's meeting, which was attended by 30 people, heard that there had been 44 recorded collisions in Ridgeway Road over the past 15 years, five involving pedestrians and three of them serious.
A total of 629 speeding penalties had been handed out to drivers breaking the 20mph limit over three years, more than a third of which were for travelling at more than 30mph.
Pictures of large lorries, including a car transporter and articulated lorry picking their way through narrow sections of the street, were shown to the meeting, which heard more through traffic was being directed along it by sat-navs and traffic apps.
A previous scheme to place planters at the roadside (below) had made some difference to perceptions of safety but with government financial backing for schemes available following the coronavirus lockdown, the city council was now planning a new wave of transport improvements to make it easier to walk and cycle, to help cut air pollution and support social distancing.
Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy said residents should make the decision, adding: "It's really important to find something that works for everyone."
Kerry said: "There's a fear among some people that if you stop the rat runs you are just displacing traffic elsewhere – we all know how busy roads like Fishponds Road are."
But she said that changes could also reduce overall traffic levels, by persuading people to walk or cycle instead.
Alex Stephenson, from Liveable Neighbourhoods, said the idea behind the change was "making sure residential streets were for the residents themselves and not for through traffic", creating "access-only neighbourhoods".
Alex said the downside of the scheme was that some car journeys took longer, but parking and access for disabled people should not be made harder.
He said similar closures in St Andrews had proved popular, and no residents were asking for them to be reversed.
Around a dozen roads connect to Ridgeway Road and its side streets, from cul de sacs to through roads. There are also trading estates leading on to both Ridgeway and Balaclava Road.
One resident said: "People use the side roads around Fishponds because Fishponds Road is so awful in the morning.
"Pre-covid you could be sat barely moving for 30 minutes at least, most days, before even reaching Eastville Park. If something was done about Fishponds Road and the awful roundabout by Ikea, then maybe there wouldn't be so many using rat runs."
A car transporter squeezes through a narrow section of Ridgeway Road
Ridgeway Road is divided between two council wards.
Eastville ward councillor Mhairi Threlfall, whose ward includes the Fishponds Road end, said any consultation needed to identify and consider the wider area, including nearby roads such as Stonebridge Park.
Hillfields councillor Craig Cheney, whose ward includes the Lodge Causeway end of the road, said that while there was a "strong feeling that something needs to change", residents he represented were worried they would be "cut off to satisfy people at the bottom end of the road".
Resident Ora Jacobs said it was important that any changes did not remove parking space, adding: "Car parking is already at a premium for residents, given new restrictions around Chester Park school, which are already causing issues."
Ora added that an improved improved pedestrian crossing at junction of Ridgeway Road and Lodge Causeway, which had long been needed, could be included in the package.
Another Ridgway Road resident said is was important to find out whether the changes would create new rat runs on other roads, saying: "I wouldn't just want to push the issue onto Thingwall Park, for example.
"I would rather have happy neighbours than a quiet street."
The road could be closed at the bridge over the Bristol and Bath Railway Path
A survey on the scheme is due to be sent to all residents of Ridgeway Road and adjoining streets from the middle of this month.
An online version of the survey will also be available. For more information and updates email firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Ridgeway Road Positive Action Group or Liveable Neighbourhoods for Eastville and Fishponds group on Facebook.