The 8 things you only know if you regularly drive the A4174 Ring Road around Bristol

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Mcdonald’s, traffic lights and pesky queue jumpers - you’ll know what we’re talking about if you use the ring road

It is the congestion relief road which can take longer to drive than to head right through the chaos of Bristol city centre - and it’s a ‘ring road’ with a route which doesn’t actually go round in a circle.

Whether you call it the Bristol Ring Road, the A4174 or the Avon Ring Road, if you drive in or around Bristol you will probably have driven down it, or crossed one of the million traffic light controlled roundabouts.

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Around 18 miles of tarmac were laid down over 20 years (not the time to drive it) from the 1970s to mid 1990s to link the A38 at Filton with the A4 Bath Road at Hick’s Gate - and then the A4 Bath Road at West Town Lane in Brislington with the A370 near Long Ashton. More on that later.

Here’s 10 things you’d only know about our ring road if you’re a ‘regular’ - and if you’re not, here’s a helpful guide. Missed anything? Email us at [email protected].

Queue jumpers

Oh, you know who you are. Where the A4714 joins up with the A4 Bath Road, the inside lane heading into Bristol becomes a bus lane and for motorists turning left into the Park and Ride. But, join the rush-hour queue of commuters at 8.30am, and you’ll more than likely see a car zipping up the inside lane before pulling sharply into your lane just before the Park and Ride. I don’t know how some people sleep at night.

McDonald’s

The one consolation for spending hours on the ring road everyday is that you’re never likely to go hungry. Ok, so traffic has meant you’ve missed supper time. Don’t worry. You don’t have just one McDonald’s restaurant to choose from, but FOUR! And all with drive-thrus. They are at Hengrove Park, Brislington, Longwell Green and Abbey Wood Shopping Park in Filton. Just one thing, don’t eat and drive.

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The slipway junction

Ok, so we know how frustatingly slow most of the road’s junctions are to get through. However, there’s one which is an absolute breeze. It’s so good that you might even let out a satisfying ‘ahhhh’ as you speed past the traffic on the roundabout on adjourning roundabout This is the turn-off for B4465 at Pucklechurch. Just don’t get too excited; the roundabout for Emersons Green is coming right up.

Introducing of the Wraxall Road through-about junction was a bit controversialIntroducing of the Wraxall Road through-about junction was a bit controversial
Introducing of the Wraxall Road through-about junction was a bit controversial

The controversial junction

Back in 2018 South Gloucestershire Council thought it would be a good idea to introduce three through-abouts as part of a £30million proposal to improve the fluidity of the traffic. In 2021, the first one was finished, at the Wraxall Road junction. It’s fair to say it has been controversial with any post related to it on local Facebook groups met with dozens of comments. Some drivers say it has made the junction more dangerous and that the layout is unclear. Last year, despite saying the junction had had a ‘positive impact’, council leaders accepted defeat and abandoned their plans for more through-abouts along the ring road.

Traffic lights

Life can be cruel. After a long motorway journey from London, Birmingham or further afield you’re finally on the home straight as you leave the M32 for the ring road and the short drive home. So you thought anyway. The sat nav might say 10 minutes to go, but the ring road ‘s many traffic light controlled rounabouts will no doubt change all that. Sometimes you can EVEN get a red light mid-junction. ‘What is this road doing to me?’ you cry out in your car on the deserted road at 10pm at night.

Stunning scenery, if you can see it

The A4174 ring road offers the best view of any road in the region - but you can’t really see it. Next to Hicks Gate roundabout, the road goes high over the River Avon. The view looking down on the once-busy river and adjourning footpath below is incredible, but can only really be viewed by walkers and cyclists. You just have to imagine it’s there as you drive over. Other highlights include the queue of Uber drivers outside McDonald’s in Longwell Green and the bubble tent for the outdoor tennis courts at David Lloyd at Emersons Green.

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Almost 18 miles of congestion relief road - the A4174 ring road which isn’t a ringAlmost 18 miles of congestion relief road - the A4174 ring road which isn’t a ring
Almost 18 miles of congestion relief road - the A4174 ring road which isn’t a ring

Start and finish, and start again

Not only is the ‘ring road’ not round, it also has gap. Not literally a gap, that would be scary. But from the Hicks Gate roundabout at Keynsham, the road becomes the A4 Bath Road for 1.3 miles until Flowers Hill at Brislington where it starts again, just off West Town Lane (the idea that this is a congestion relief road must also stop here). It then starts again and, thanks to the 2017 building of the South Bristol Link Road, ends at the A370 near Long Ashton. Clear enough?

Boy racers

Dual carriageways, out-of-town retail parks and young people with cars - it can only lead to one thing; boy racers. Anyone driving past 9pm around the Longwell Green area is likely to have seen them. Usually in packs of two or three cars. Always noisy and often fast. The issue has come to a head with local councillors securing support from the Government in the hope of a new road camera designed to identify and track drivers breaking the law by revving engines. Bristol World revealed that the camera was on a bridge between the junction for Longwell Grteen and the Wraxall Road through-about. The trial is now over, and the local councillors are waiting on the results.

Have we missed anything? Email us at [email protected]

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