The junction is dangerous and difficult for all modes of transport. There is a small traffic island for pedestrians but is too narrow to stand on with a pram, bicycle or wheelchair. Accessibility is a major concern, as the junction cannot be approached from Ladies mile by wheelchairs and those with limited mobility due to the steep gradient.
Bridge Valley Road also separates Clifton Down from Clifton-Durdham Downs that became a real issue since the speed and density of vehicular traffic increased dramatically in the 20th century. There is no physical link between the two parts of the Downs.
Any scheme that is aiming to improve the junction would need to
- improve safety for all road users
- make connection accessible
- reconnect the two parts of the Downs
- encourage walking, cycling, sustainable transport and the use of the Downs for recreation.
A series of options were considered against the key objectives, such as zebra crossings, traffic lights, roundabout and pedestrian/cycle bridge.
A zebra crossing and traffic lights are likely to result in long queues further down Bridge Valley Road and increase the number of serious accidents due to the lack of visibility and steep gradient for the upcoming traffic. A roundabout would considerably improve the junction for motorists but would not offer significant improvement for pedestrians, cyclists or accessibility. A bridge would improve access to pedestrians and cyclists, although would not have significant impact on motorists. For the best result a roundabout and a bridge would be proposed. The two schemes could fully complement each other, but considered as two independent schemes. The current application is addressing a pedestrian/cycle bridge and a roundabout is outside its remits.
The bridge is proposed to be located ca. 60m below the top Bridge Valley Road, connecting The Promenade with Ladies Mile.
The bridge would have a segregated 2.0m wide pedestrian lane towards the junction, a 2.5m wide cycle lane as well as a ‘reservation lane’ for people to stand on enjoying the views towards the Avon Gorge.
A circular ramp is proposed within the treeline adjacent to the Promenade. The cycle path would lead clockwise around the left and the pedestrian lane with steps anticlockwise around the right. A circular space between the cycle and footpath would be level and could offer an attractive meeting space with stone benches around it.
How to ensure safety of pedestrians along a cycle route?
The inclusion of a cycle lane was specifically requested by the Down Committee during the consultation process. As cycling is currently not permitted on the Downs, it is unavoidable to take cyclists from Clifton Down onto the bridge without crossing The Promenade. To ensure the safety of pedestrians and reduce the speed of cyclists, chicanes are proposed across The Promenade. Potential conflict areas will be designed in detail through specialist consultation, involving cycle and disability groups.
All plans and documents can be found on http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=O3Q520DN00J00