You can help make Railway Path safer and better
MEETINGS to gather ideas for improving the Bristol and Bath Railway Path are being held this month.
Transport charity Sustrans has been given £1.1 million to improve the path on its final stretch from Clay Bottom towards the city centre.
The path is used by thousands of people each day. As well as being a popular route for people commuting to the city centre by bike, it is also a busy footpath for people living in Fishponds, Whitehall and Redfield – and resolving the conflict between users travelling at different speeds is one of the key problems the improvements are aiming to tackle.
Sustrans is calling its project a 'community-led redesign'. It wants to hear ideas from anyone who walks, jogs or cycles on the path – and from anyone who would like to use it but feels that they can't in its current state.
The next phase of the project will be design workshops at Hannah More Primary School in New Kingsley Rd, St Philip's, from 5-7pm on November 7, at Easton Community Centre in Kilburn Street from 5.15-7pm on November 11 and at the Rose Green Centre in Gordon Road, Whitehall, from 3.30-7pm on November 12. Everyone is welcome to come along.
To contribute ideas online, visit qrco.de/Onepath or join the Bristol & Bath Railway Path – OnePath group on Facebook.
Consultations started with Sustrans talking to people on the path in mid-October, followed by the first set of community workshops, where people were asked what they like about the path, what needs to be changed and what must be protected.
Key problems identified at a 'community inception meeting', below, attended by more than 30 people at Easton Community Centre on October 18, included safety, speed, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, and conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.
Everyone was asked to record their experiences of the path – good and bad – and a map put up where people were invited to highlight problem areas such as the Clay bottom s-bend and the underpass under St Philip's Causeway in Lawrence Hill.
Suggestions for improving the path included everything from signs, segregated lanes, lighting and CCTV to new drinking fountains and publishing data on cyclists' speed.
People at the meeting also urged Sustrans to visit groups for older and disabled people, whose members might not be able to get to its consultation meetings or go online.
Sustrans project manager Alex Bottrill said there had been a steady flow of people to the first consultations.
He said: "Our key message is that we want as many people involved as possible and get the community involved in solving these issues.
"We want to stop people feeling intimidated on the path – we have heard stories of people driving their kids to school because they are too scared to cross the path."
Sustrans South of England director James Cleeton said 98% of the all complaints he received were about the Bristol and Bath path. The redesign needed to create a "safe and inclusive space for everybody", defusing conflicts and making it safe for everyone, including disabled and visually impaired people.
The design phase of the project will last between now and next March, with building work to bring in the changes taking place between October of next year and March 2021.