We ask Bristol: Should historic harbour tracks be removed over safety concerns for cyclists?

Opinions were mixed when we asked people down at Princes Wharf

Opinions were mixed when people were asked for their views on if historic railway tracks on Bristol’s dockside should be removed, due to the danger they pose to cyclists.

Safety concerns around the tracks, which are now used as a heritage railway by the M Shed museum, resurfaced after a female cyclist recently suffered a fall when her bike wheels became lodged in the railings.

Several incidents of this nature have been reported to Bristol City Council since the early 2000s, and in 2014 the authority made safety improvements to Princes Wharf after cyclist Sean Phillips fell into the harbour and tragically drowned when his wheels became stuck.

This included signs warning cyclists to dismount, along with a dedicated cycle way along the back of the M Shed, but accidents still appear to be happening.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees told BristolWorld at a press briefing this week that any move to pull up the tracks would be a ‘huge loss’ to the city due to their cultural value.

We ventured to Princes Wharf and asked residents whether or not they thought the tracks should be removed given past events - and opinions were mixed.

Frances said: “I think they should remain. They’re part of the city’s heritage and there is still a railway line that runs along here with a train that takes people down to the SS Great Britain.

“The cyclists can easily go around the other side of the building, in fact there are signs at the end saying that they should.

Frances said cyclists shoudn’t be riding along Princes Wharf anyway, as there were signs saying not to do someone and it could be dangerous for pedestrians.

“When cyclists whizz along here and they mix with pedestrians with small children, or pets on leads, it can be quite dangerous.”

But Imogen said: “One of my friends recently fell through the tracks on her bike and broke her leg quite recently.

“I do think it’s dangerous. I don’t know why the tracks are still there if they’re not being used.

“I feel like the safety of people in the city is a bit more important than keeping some tracks that don’t need to be used anymore.”

Elise agreed: “I don’t think they’re important enough if there are people getting injured.

“I actually have heard of people falling off their bikes.”

But Callum said he was ‘erring on the side of history’, adding that the tracks were significant culturally.

Callum said he was ‘erring on the side of history’.

“It is a really shame when people are hurt obviously, and it’s best to protect cyclists in any way we can,” he said.

“But I think removing them would be such a cultural loss to what is such a historical city.

“Ultimately it comes down to whether we want to protect that culture, and I do think that’s slightly more important.”