Sunday 26 February 2012

The Great Wall of Filton

Rob Bushill of Really Useful Bikes feels that we, the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire, have been giving the S Gloucs cycle team a hard time. That swearing is abusive and the wrong way to get things fixed.

His section on cycling with kids is something we cannot disagree with, as he shows lots of lovely ways to carry kids on the bars, cargo bicycles -we are sure that he dreams of a region where families can safely cycle round. We agree on the goals -merely the detail. He and the other collaborators with the regime believe that constructive engagement is the answer. We believe that talking to the people is an utter waste of time -and furthermore, they don't even talk to you, the splitters, about what they are about to do to make cycling round the region even harder.

We value and respect Rob, and his goal of providing useful bikes for the area, so will not swear in this post, or make any direct accusations about the competence of the cycle team.

Instead we ask Rob to question his own beliefs -and to consider whether he should come out in support of the cause -or give up and start selling mountain bikes with 80-100mm of travel on the front forks, as these are the best way to get past The Great Wall of Filton.

Yes, the "the Great Wall of Filton", a barrier put in to stop anyone on a bicycle cycling down a road that was closed "to make it a better place to cycle" -at the bottom of Eighth Avenue and the top of Wordsworth Avenue

It's not a cycle path, it's a wall of bollards and barriers, with a van on the pavement to make even the pavement inaccessible.

It's not wide enough to get a bicycle with panniers through
It's not wide enough to get any straight-bar bicycle through without the risk of clipping a wheel on the kerb (where the black marks show it happens), or the bar on the bollard.

It is not a cycle path. It is not pining for the fjords. It is a dead cycle path.

As Rob does not want us to say anything negative about the cycle team, we leave it to him to discover for us whether this was put in without their knowledge, whether their objections to something utterly useless were overridden -or whether they thought this was a good idea.

If he raises this issue at the next cycle forum -he should also ask why The Great Wall of Filton was not discussed beforehand.

Here are our questions for Rob about the Great Wall of Filton
  1. Do you any of your family cycles get through here?
  2. As this route will link up with the nearby Concorde way, do you believe that this route could form part of a safe joined-up family cycling network?
  3. Do you have any evidence that the plan for the Great Wall of Filton was raised with the cycle forum? 
  4. Do you think that the Great Wall of Filton is something the cycle team should be proud of?
  5. Do you think they were involved in the design?
  6. If the cycle team where not involved in the design, does that not indicate that the council is out of control, and that the cycle team have no apparent awareness of what is going on in their shire?
  7. Whose budget do you believe it came out of?
If he finds the answers unsatisfactory, we extend the black glove of the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire to Rob -and invite him to recognise that the cycle forum is not the solution to any cycling problems that the area has. Together, we can be.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hmm...cycle forums were a husky battlefield on the few i attended..went home feeling demoralised but not from the word and actions of the officials...
    How about we say that the first one to get the bollard removed wins?
    (and the other has to write a thank you letter to the council team that facilitates it :-))

  3. Cycle forums are a place where broken cycle campaigners go to die!

  4. Its a shame about the forum thing, a valuable resource thats now just a ticked box. (but i've not been for a while...

    ok, i have a reply from the councils, the project is led by Bristol city council and co funded..
    the problem is that cyclists are not the only people using that street, and its a case of a few inconsiderate users making problems for the rest...

    the response from Bristol city council.

    Many thanks for your enquiries this morning. We thought we'd feedback
    to you as soon as possible surrounding the stopping up amendments.

    The changes were made through the Bristol Neighbourhood Partnership
    budget for Horfield & Lockleaze and were jointly funded by South
    Gloucestershire, (as it is right on the border of the two authorities).
    The issue was addressing a road safety concern with motorcycle speed
    through the stopping up, which was affecting pedestrians, cyclists and
    local residents using the facility. Bristol has received phone calls and
    correspondence from Ward Councillors, the Police, local residents and
    users on this particular issue. The speeding issues had been reported
    throughout the day as well as the night and were not easy to address
    through enforcement due to numerous motorbikes using this as a short

    As there was very little funding to address this, CCTV or completely
    re-engineering the stopping up was not an option, due to significantly
    less funding within local government currently. We believe the
    amendments probably do act as a very minor inconvenience for cyclists,
    in much the same way as a York-style staggered barrier may act. Yet for
    the majority of cyclists it is still possible to use the route in a far
    safer way, without potential or actual conflict occurring at high speed
    with motorbikes. For tricycles or tag alongs we would suggest using the
    new Concorde Way, (if they are heading to the MoD or other employers in
    the area), or another alternative would be Filton Avenue.

    Although we do not envisage the amendments stopping motorcycle misuse,
    it will slow the current speeds and be a road safety improvement for
    most users and residents. Unfortunately a solution to this age old
    conundrum, which allows access for all, but stops issues with motorbikes
    has yet to be invented, although we do try trial new solutions to
    regularly check this.

    In terms of alternative design solutions we did investigate at a number
    of other options including one to three bollard/s either side of the
    islands allowing cyclists to weave around them, but due to bollards
    potentially being struck by turning traffic, (particularly large lorries
    or refuse vehicles) and little or no budget the current arrangement was
    the best placement in terms of future maintenance.

    As regards the footway, the staggered barriers have been implemented
    within our current BCC Environmental Access Standards and are as such
    DDA compliant, as far as we are aware. Finally, in terms of making the
    bollards visible at night, they do already have a retro-reflective band
    around the top.

    In terms of a way forward, if there is funding left over from the
    Bonnington Allotments shared use scheme on the Concorde Way (we are
    currently project managing) we will look at allocating further funding
    and a more adequate solution to the current bollard placement.

    Please let us know if you have any further queries or ideas about how
    the existing issues could be addressed cheaply and we will feed them
    back, more debate on these issues is always welcome.

    Many thanks for taking the time to write to us.

    I think that a fair response...apologies to south glos due i think..

    and to get bollard removed, remove speeding scooter riders...

  5. what is needed is a solution that resolves the danger of little lithe speeding scooters (PTW's) without hindering larger bicycles and bikes with trailers. How that is achieved is what baffles everyone. no easy solution. If that was my regular route i think i would fashion something to help me up the kerb but that does not resolve the issue. But Bristol council have responded swiftly and demonstrated that they have looked at all the common options and issues. I would still be narked if my regular route was blocked. But the reasoning for the blockage is clear. most bicycle riders will have to slow but would still have access via this feature but slowing people down is the primary function of the bollard. Its a big issue and not isolated to Northville, from what i can see there is nothing that stops little nippy scooters yet lets large long bicycles/trailers through although i am still looking.

  6. Rob, this shows how much bollocks shared spaces are. What the road now has is cars parked where the pavements used to be, kids expected to play in the middle of the road, and now motorbikes becoming the enemy. If they'd done a design with wide pavements (and some enforced parking) and some traffic calmed road, there would be no need for this mess

  7. I don't disagree, this was 'designed' a long time ago and certainly looks very clumsy. practices, designs and ideas have changed a lot in the last few years. But without constructive discussions and respect from both/all sides (community groups too) how can schemes like this be a success in the future. The cycling forums as they stand are not the place for discussion. there needs to be bridges built so that any animosity can be dispelled and the good people in south glos and Bristol too can be encouraged and supported to do what they can and the not so good planners can be challenged . Don't forget that they are constrained financially and probably more influentially by the fact that the majority of voters are car drivers. So planner trying to implement any cycle scheme will be fighting against the flow. We need to work with the planners, encourage and advise, constructively critise if need be. I honestly think in the most part planners are not the enemy. and for sure south glos had some good people that were actually bike riders (one loved his coaster braked schwinn). They might not do what we want them too all the time but we shouldn't oppress them. we should respect their right to act like a local council in a motorcar based society.