Bristol campaigners: words by council are 'weasel words'

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Campaigners in Bristol, United Kingdom have said that the pledges of Bristol City Council regarding the plans to turn part of the Bristol and Bath cycle path into as bus route were just "weasel words." This comes after the council refused to confirm that they would halt the development of the plan.

A photograph of part of the path

A petition was recently formed regarding the claims. One of the signatories of the petition, David Qualtrough, from Bedminster said when signing the petition that the suggestion was "quite honestly one of the most ludicrous ideas I've ever heard." The text of the petition read "We, the undersigned, petition Bristol City Council to reject plans to install a rapid transit bus route along any section of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path "Greenway" and wildlife corridor. The Bristol to Bath Railway Path is the most popular route in the UK on the National Cycle Network with 2.4 million sustainable journeys in the last year."

Bristol City Council's Executive Member for Access and Environment, Mark Bradshaw, commented on the issue in a video released late last month. He said that "no decisions have been made" regarding the use of the cycle path. He also said that Bristol City Council was "committed to a full public consultation". Mr. Bradshaw also said that he would not engage in party political rows regarding these issues.

In an open letter written earlier this year, John Grimshaw, chair of Sustrans commented on the planned route. He said "The proposed route, the Bristol and Bath [cycle] Path, is one of the best used sections of the National Cycle Network. When Sustrans last surveyed this section of Network it was carrying 2.4 million trips a year. This usage is increasing at 10% a year. This amounts to over 6,500 trips each day, with 56% of these journeys being for work. 58% of users surveyed could have used a car for their journey but chose not to. A BRT route on this section will, we believe, reduce current levels of walking and cycling and may well actually encourage people to return to their cars."

Some people did, however, support the plans. One of these people told the Bristol Evening Post that "The path is a public resource; its current use should not be artificially cast in stone forevermore; its application should be put to whatever use best serves the half million bristolians the council acts for and if that means turning this path into a bus route or railway or even road, this year or next; as part of relieving bristols overall transport problems then so be it. the council done right."

Some of the people in opposition to the plans suggested that the train line accompanying the cycle path should be restored. They claimed that this would be a sensible alternative to having a bus on the cycle path.