OPINION: Badminton Road plans are pointless without better public transport
If you live along Badminton Road, or often drive between Downend or Coalpit Heath towards Yate, you will most likely be aware of the ongoing works to install new cycle lanes on either side of a stretch of the busy road. At the moment, there are temporary traffic lights to allow for the works to be carried out.
It was decided that Badminton Road should get an improved cycle track after being identified as a key link between the A4174 Avon Ring Road and Yate, both of which are undergoing a raft of improvements as part of a £174m council scheme designed to reduce congestion and make way for new developments in South Gloucestershire.
However, as someone who lives locally, I am struggling to understand the council’s vision for Badminton Road. There has been a lot of disruption during the cycle lane works which is causing - albeit temporary - congestion, and while the stretch of road between The New Inn and Yate Park and Ride might be safer for cyclists - we are not going to get people out of their cars without proper public transport links along the route offering frequent journeys to Bristol city centre and Downend etc.
Works to install the cycle lanes are understood to last around five months. They are, of course, part of a wider vision to link the A4174 Avon ring road with Badminton Road and Yate, reducing congestion, and ensuring the road is safe for cyclists and pedestrians. The cycle lanes are currently being installed on only one stretch of the A-road leading up to the new Yate Park and Ride, which has also proved controversial.
The Yate Park and Ride, which cost £4.5million, opened to the public in February after various setbacks. However, locals have called it a ‘waste of money’ as no additional bus services stop there. In fact, the Y2, which links Chipping Sodbury and Bristol City Centre, has recently been cut.
People have said the Park and Ride offers nothing more than just a car park. But the council says it will be used as a stop for the MetroBus when it eventually extends to the area. It said: “With the site now open, we will be continuing discussions with service providers to ensure more buses will be making use of this facility.”
But with high demand buses in the area actually being cut instead of more introduced (something I have discussed in detail here) I feel it is impossible for the council to meet its sustainability criteria for the area. Unfortunately, I don’t believe new cycle lanes are enough to tempt people out of cars without better transport links.
Locals have been having their say on this on Facebook. Commenting under a post on the South Glos Street Care page, Shaun said: “Why not share cycle paths with footpaths and let the vehicles who pay road tax have proper use of the roads instead of making them so narrow that trucks can't pass each other without slowing down to a walking pace.”
Dave said: “There are two cyclists at least causing mayhem between 7am and 8am, causing polluting vehicles to drive at ridiculously low speeds. Not really thought-out strategy, Park and Ride looks way way under-used.”
Commenting on the temporary traffic lights while works are being carried out, Steve asked: “Could you please explain how you manage the routing of emergency vehicles through the extremely long roadwork section? I have already witnessed two ambulances stuck in traffic when there was just a short section of two-way lights outside The New Inn at Mayshill - these vital minutes can potentially cost lives.”
The council has since responded to Steve’s comments, saying: “There are temporary traffic lights in place now for nearly all the remaining period of work. These will move around according to where the teams are working. These lights will be manually operated during busy periods to ensure emergency vehicles are given priority.”
What South Gloucestershire Council is saying
In a statement, a South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “The A432 corridor between Bristol, Yate and Chipping Sodbury will continue to benefit from investment in public transport over the next five years, which will see bus service provision improve.”
Speaking about the wider investment in South Gloucestershire’s roads, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, Cllr Steve Reade, said: “We are investing a record £174m into our highways over four years to reduce congestion and emissions, improve cycling and pedestrian routes, facilitate faster bus journeys and future proof our road network.
“Highway improvement schemes are being delivered across the district and the aim of this ambitious programme of work is to get our road network ready for major new housing and business developments in the area, as well as making sustainable travel options a more attractive choice so that we can keep people moving now and in years to come.”
The council has also launched a consultation on new proposals for the A432 from Yate to the Avon ring road. The proposals will see junctions altered, new bus lanes and cycle lanes introduced, and are part of a wider programme of investment in buses and cycling across the West of England area.
A council spokesperson said: “Severe delays impacting bus services have been experienced along the A4174 ring road, particularly at peak times. Facilities provided at bus stops vary greatly – many bus stops in Yate and the wider urban area do not meet basic standards for accessibility, to reduce the step between the bus and the kerb, or for bus shelters.
“Improved junctions, bus lanes, better bus stops and pedestrian crossings will make using buses more reliable and attractive,” they added. And the council are also proposing to change things to make it easier and safer for people to cycle on those two main A-roads.
“Provision for people cycling along the A432 and A4174 is limited, it is not separated from busy traffic, or uses paths shared with pedestrians which can lead to conflicts,” the council said. “Creating safer facilities separated from traffic and pedestrians will make it a realistic choice for people of all abilities to cycle in safety. In some locations a reduction in speed limit may also be desirable to improve safety for all travellers and provide a more attractive environment for walking and cycling,” they added.
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