Railway Path December meeting

Post date 11 January 2019


Up Our Street hosted a public meeting on 13 December 2018 to bring together local residents, Sustrans and Bristol City Council to discuss concerns and plans for the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. The main points from the meeting are summarised below. We will working more on this project throughout 2019, so do look out for updates or sign up to our ebulletin.

Bristol to Bath Railway Path - Share, Respect, Enjoy

Vision
Supported by Sustrans, local activists and Bristol City Council

We are committed to a Bristol and Bath Railway Path that is a safe space: a park, path and place for all users, by foot or by wheel, enabling healthy lifestyles in a green and biodiverse corridor linking the two cities and communities across the West of England Combined Authority. We will work with all of the communities who use the Bristol and Bath Railway Path to redesign and reshape it so that its value to people, wildlife, its localities and the region as a whole is enhanced and protected for generations to come.

 

MEETING NOTES:

Introduction
At peak times (8am to 9am and 5pm to 6pm) the busiest parts of the path have approximately 1,200 cyclists an hour using a 3 metre wide strip of tarmac.

  • Experiences on the path vary depending on who you are, how you use it and the time of day - therefore need more than one solution.
  • The path is a place not a problem so ideas need to think about what makes a place pleasant for all who wish to use it. It has become considered more of a rapid transport route but is actually a designated park which binds and connects our community.
  • Concerned and interested stakeholders made up of Sustrans, Up Our Street and residents have been communicating and trying to establish connections between people who have stake in future of path to safeguard it and address challenges from its increase in use.
  • This is focused around Sustrans One Path Initiative which has support of the local councils and provides a framework for us to work towards. Key goal is promotion of the message Share Respect Enjoy.
  • This meeting builds on previous meetings and research by Up Our Street and engagement activity by Sustrans who have spoken to nearly 400 people over last few months.

Feedback from experiences
Very common across different groups and repeated themes from previous engagement and meetings

  • Common theme about fear for safety from speeding cyclists.
  • Experience of using it as a child is one that feels very unsafe.
  • Cyclists are not using bells to warn about overtaking.
  • Bright lights shining directly in eyes.
  • Confusion about walking into or against flow of cyclists - where to walk is unclear and people prefer different approachs.
  • Users talking on phones or using headphones not paying attention leads to higher risk of collisions.
  • Experiences of women feeling intimidated or harassed.
  • Walkers often experience and observe aggression and verbal abuse - feels like very high state of tension at peak times which spills over into rude and aggressive behaviour similar to road rage where tolerance levels feel low so risk of conflict high.
  • Dog walkers experience aggression from cyclists also concern about dogs off leads or on long leads which are hard to see causing danger to cyclists.
  • Parents feeling worried about children darting into path of cyclists.
  • Older and disabled people no longer visible on the path as too intimidated to use it.
  • We need to communicate what we do want/how we do want people to behave and give clear guidance as this more likely to work than negative message.

Ideas to pilot and test
2019 is the path's 40 year anniversary, so good time to make a statement about its use and the future.

  • UWE students designing interventions.
  • Segregated times of the day e.g. Dog walk time, cyclist commuting time.
  • Zones to denote areas to take special consideration (school zone).
  • Visual cues to denote changes in use - signs, gateways, painted floor.
  • Some Highway Code designed signs about speed and crossing points as everyone understands what they mean and usually obeys.
  • Strava speed trial app - way to call out cyclists using the path to race and cyclists can police other cyclist’s behaviour.
  • Sustrans volunteers do a lot to maintain vegetation and keep path useable this to continue and could be expanded to include more local volunteer action.
  • Continue to reinforce the name as the Railway Path and not cycle track.
  • Explore use of tech in signage - smart signage to promote positive messages and reduce speed.
  • Distributing bells to people with Share Respect Enjoy message.

Issues for further discussion and debate

  • Widening and segregation – much more consultation needed about the desire for this and the feasibility
  • How we might use tech to improve the user experience of the path and/or collect useful data
  • How to lobby for more improved cycle and walking routes for commuters to relieve pressure on path – e.g. feeding into council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan