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Bristol Post

Solving Clifton flooding by removing cycle lanes is 'crazy' say critics

Plans to solve the problem of flooding on Whiteladies Road in Clifton by removing cycle lanes have been branded ‘crazy’ by cyclists in Bristol.

Bristol City Council has revealed what its solution is to the ongoing problem of flash flooding on a stretch of the road near the BBC headquarters - and has opened up a consultation on what it’s proposing.

But the plans involve removing the cycle lane on what is the main A4018 road into the city centre from north west Bristol, and that hasn’t gone down well with cycling groups.

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The section at the very bottom of Whiteladies Road from Tyndall Park Avenue to the Victoria Rooms has flooded many times over the past few years. Every time there is heavy rain or a big storm, the road turns into a lake with the pavements impassable on foot and drivers trundling through water up to 18 inches deep.

Now, Bristol City Council has unveiled its proposals to reduce that flooding, and are encouraging people who live, work or travel through this area to say what they think about the plan.

The plans involve creating soft grass verges to soak up the rain, adding a drainage channel, widening the footpaths on both sides of the road and replacing the pavements with block paving, which has better drainage. The road would still be one lane each way for traffic, but widening the pavement and creating grass verges would mean the cycle lanes on either side of the road would have to go, the council said.

“Our streets are for everyone, and this part of Whiteladies Road clearly needs to be rethought,” said transport chief, Cllr Don Alexander (Lab, Avonmouth). “It is always a last resort to propose taking out cycle lanes, but the lack of space in this area means we need to consider it.

“A wider pavement would allow us to resolve the problems with flooding, while making the footpath safer and more accessible for all. I encourage everyone to take a look at the proposals and let us know your thoughts, to make sure we get the right solution for the city,” he added.

But Vassili Papastavrou, the secretary of the Bristol Tree Forum and a cyclist, said the proposals would put bike riders in danger, and there was nothing in the consultation documents or plans to show the council had considered the impact on them or even knew how many people use the cycle lanes every day.

Bristol City Council's proposals to solve the problem of flooding on Whiteladies Road in Clifton (Bristol City Council)

“This is a fact-free exercise - there is no information on the number of cyclists per day,” he said. “The consultation is very poor as no alternatives are considered such as a raised porous protected cycle lane built over the tree roots.

“Cyclists would have to compete with traffic on the narrowed carriageway. Injuries or deaths are likely and those proposing this crazy scheme need to own that,” he added.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said removing the cycle lanes was a last resort. “We do try wherever possible to avoid the removal of the cycle lanes and have investigated pushing back the walls of properties to provide more width, but this is not an option as these are privately owned,” he said. “We are proposing to install some greenery, e-scooter and cycle parking along the new widened footpath. The advanced stop lines for cyclists will be retained at the traffic signals.”

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