Gap in major Bristol city centre cycling route to be filled in over nine-month project

The cycle path between Castle Park and Temple WayThe cycle path between Castle Park and Temple Way
The cycle path between Castle Park and Temple Way | LDR
Bristol City Council has faced criticism for a lack of joined-up cycling routes

A gap in a major cycling route through Bristol city centre will be filled in over a nine-month project, which starts today (September 11).

The £1.2-million plan to fill in the ‘Old Market gap’ is expected to be completed next April.

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Bristol City Council has faced criticism for a lack of joined-up cycling routes, but this latest project will address one of the glaring gaps in the network. The new link will be built between the Old Market roundabout and the existing cycle path through Castle Park.

Currently cyclists and pedestrians coming off of a segregated route through the roundabout have to share a pavement and cross over two roads before reaching the path in the park. Campaigners welcomed the new plans which they said include their suggestions.

Labour Councillor Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport, said: “I’m delighted that work is starting to improve this junction for pedestrians and cyclists, offering an alternate route to the Temple Way underpass which can get very busy.

“It’s a key priority of this administration to continue to make our roads safer and more accessible for all, to encourage more people to travel actively and improve their health while helping us to cut congestion and air pollution in the city. This is one of a series of projects that we’re progressing to make cycling and walking throughout Bristol a safer and more pleasant experience.”

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A section of Castle Street, between Lower Castle Street and Queen Street, will be closed throughout the works and a diversion will be signposted. When the road reopens, the left turn onto Lower Castle Street will change to a right turn only onto Tower Hill.

Improvements include a segregated cycle route on Tower Hill with protected pedestrian spaces that connect Old Market roundabout and Castle Street; wider and safer crossing points for people walking and cycling; high quality surfaces with consistent paving; and more plants and trees in and around the junction.

Towards the end of the works, Lower Castle Street, Old Market Street and Tower Hill will close for around a week for resurfacing works that will mainly take place overnight. There will also be two temporary crossings for pedestrians to replace ones that will be switched off because of the works.

An artist’s impression of how the new cycle path will lookAn artist’s impression of how the new cycle path will look
An artist’s impression of how the new cycle path will look | BCC

This project is being funded by the West of England Combined Authority through a grant from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund. Eventually the council plans to create a safer route from the Old Market roundabout to the start of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path, a popular off-road route running throughout the east of the city.

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Ian Pond, chairperson at the Bristol Cycling Campaign, said: “We were glad to have been involved in the design phase of this project with officers and we’re very happy to see that the suggestions we made have been incorporated in the final design of this piece of the city centre cycling infrastructure.”

On the other side of Castle Park, work is well under way in building a new segregated cycle path on Bristol Bridge, as well as changes with the junction with Baldwin Street and the High Street. Longer term plans include building a new cycling route down Victoria Street.

Greens welcomed the start of the works but criticised the delay. The cycle path over the roundabout was built more than two years ago, and the opposition party said the council should be working much faster to improve cycling infrastructure across Bristol.

Green Cllr Ed Plowden said: “It’s excellent news that work will finally be starting on this ‘gap-fill’ cycle path — the designs are very good. However, it could have been done years ago as the designs have been in place for many years and the funding for over two years.

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“Although the Green Party accepts that infrastructure isn’t built overnight, it does feel that the Labour administration are still moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to building new cycle routes and connecting existing ones — it’s been over two years since the nearby segment of this route on the roundabout was finished.

“How long will Bristolians have to wait for a network of safe, connected cycling and walking routes? We’ve known for years that this could transform transport in Bristol, and help us tackle the climate emergency — it would be good to see more urgency to get it done.

“We are also concerned that this lack of pace and ambition for investing in Bristol’s active travel could put future funding at risk. While in opposition, we will be doing what we can to make sure that the mayor is investing government and other funding effectively and efficiently.”

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