Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Wickham Glen Cycling Proposals

A planning application has been submitted by Cycling City for a new cyling ramp to be installed through the woods in Wickham Glen and onto Blackberry Hill/Broom Hill.
The application is only for the Ramp Only but forms part of the larger scheme (which doesnt need planning approval as its deemed as improvements/repairs to existing) which will continue the new cycle path through Eastville Park all the way to Blackberry Hill/Broom Hill and then eventually Stoke Park.
The planning application is for a new 3m wide cycle route to but cut through the existing woodland that is surfaced in tarmac and has timber post and rail fencing either side.
In order to do this trees will have to be removed and substantial earthworks undertaken. A replanting scheme will then be undertaken.

The documents can be seen by folowing the following weblink:
No provison has been made to prevent or even make more difficult motobike access. The route is designed to conform to national cycle route standards.

It appears that due to Bristol being a cylcling city that this is the norm.
Should we accept that instead of asking cyclist to use the road from Wickham bridge up to Blackberry Hill we have to accept that woodland has to be destroyed and repalced with 3m wide cycle lanes.
We accept that the footpath is in need of repair and that access is not suitable for cycles/wheelchairs and motorbikes but do we have to tarmac everywhere to enable unfettered access to those that choose to ride bikes and not walk along public footpaths?
You can also contact the ofiicer responsible for submitting the proposals at nick.pates@bristol.gov.uk or his colleague jon.usher@bristol.gov.uk who will be able to explain the proposals to you.
We would like to gage the opinion of our members so the group can respond to this application so please comment on what you think.


SteveL said...

As someone who regularly cycles here, I know it will glue together things -UWE, even the railway path.

But I mourn the loss of wilderness. the fences seem overkill too. All we really need is an easier way to get bicycles -including ones with trailers- and wheelchairs out at Broomhill road, which could be done with a little zig-zag at the end, no need for a new ramp away from the river with fences. A 3m wide path is what's recommended to avoid conflict between bikes and pedestrians, but it could be done 1.5m earth and 1.5m tarmac, so it has less of a wide motorway feel than the current eastville park enhancements.

Bristol Traffic coverage

Oliver said...

This will ruin Wickham Glen and has been put together by a blinkered group of cycling enthusiasts without regard to the needs of other users and wildlife.

Snuff Mills Action Group proclaims that it cares about Wickham Glen, but all you ever do is worry about Snuff Mills and Grove Wood, we need you to get involved here too as this beautiful patch will be ruined by this ridiculour idea.

As for the works not requiring permission because it is an improvement to an existing track. That is a joke.

I am sure hundreds of local people would support whatever SMAG decides to do on this crazy plan.

stevem said...

Direct lines for
Nick Pates 3525736
Jon Usher 9036676

If they get a few calls it might encourage them to think a bit about this.

sued said...

I agree wholeheartedly with SteveL about the zigzags at the end and the overkill in this proposal. Cycling city shouldn't be about setting cyclists and non-cyclists up in opposition to one another. The 3-metre road would be out of character, and more than needed in what is a very quiet stretch of public footpath, used by some cyclists who have the alternative of the quiet on-road Wickham Hill route to Blackberry Hill. Motorbikes already pose big risks when they appear in the park, and any increase in this activity will put ALL users of the path at risk. Cycling City really needs to use its head rather than blindly conforming to a one size fits all approach. Sensitivity to local conditions is key to its succes. Are they running out of ideas of where they can spend their millions? I know there are plenty of people who can suggest other ways of improving cycling infrastructure than turning a quiet riverside walk into a rat run. The main Eastville Park stretch is much busier, both with pedestrians and cyclists, so there's more justification for a track on this scale, but not through Wickham Glen.
A grit surface would be much less jarring, as well as not encouraging cyclists to speed too much. This is a perfect example of disjointed thinking.

Martyn said...

Firstly, I am astounded a 3m wide tarmac path is not subject to the usual planning conditions, especially in a conservation area.

I completely object to what is effectively a single track road running through Wickham Glen, despite being a keen cyclist who recognises the need for better cycle infrastructure throughout Bristol, and am a big fan of off-road routes such as the Railway Path. What we need are fast, safe and direct routes to (and through) the city centre. People can decide upon their own routes in such areas as this or we will end up with a society where everything is prescribed for us?

The best way to keep cyclists and pedestrians apart in this area is for cyclists to use the lane between the river and Blackberry Hill. Why spend money on this when it can be better used elsewhere?

SteveL said...

"put together by a blinkered group of cycling enthusiasts"

no, put together by a council trying to solve transport problems in the city. But that doesn't mean that it should take away the greenery. Do I want all our parks replaced by wide tarmac bike lanes? No, no more than I want my commute home over purdown camp replaced with bike lanes in new housing estates and council fields.

SMAG could talk to the Bristol Cycling Campaign -they aren't blinkered either- and see if we can all come up with a proposal that is practical (supports family cycling with trailers and tagalongs) while still preserving the park/wilderness feel of the area. Something can be done here -half tarmac, half gravel and zig-zags at the top, for example.

Motorbikes are tricky; a recurrent problem on the railway path, but here's the problem: there is no way to impose a physical barrier which doesn't block out trailers and the like -and you can't easily throw a trailer carrying a one year old over a fence. Those narrow-at-the-top things don't work either; they contain assumptions about bicycle handlebar heights and widths, and don't work when there's a child on the handlebars. The best solution is to get a photo with the reg#, contact the police.

stevem said...

I had a very long and useful conversation with someone from the cycling city team today. I wanted to speak to them so I could understand their position on this.

The 3m width is a national standard and reflects the minimum standard in trying to separate users of paths. They talked about compromises they had made in some parks to a 2.75m width - basically meeting in the middle between 2.5m and 3m!

It was very clear during the conversation that we were coming at this issue from very different positions.

As SMAG Chair my interests were about maximising both the different types of users to the area and the quality of their experience, as well as ensuring any changes have no significant impact on the landscape and wildlife value.

Cycling City were all about their minimum standards and ensuring a really fast route between the UWE and Eastville - to para-phrase.

I think we understood each other's positions and views, but I am not sure there is much room for compromise at the moment. One of our team is trying to set up a site meeting to see if there might be one though.

So please keep sharing your thoughts about this one. We all love cycling and realise what a nightmare it is cycling in Bristol, but my own personal view is that I really don't want to see a cycle road through such a lovely spot. And narrow paths can work. We have just that in Snuff Mills and cyclists and other users get on fine - perhaps that works better as it make people more considerate of each other. I dunno.

sued said...

I agree with Stevem about the current co-existence between the groups of users. By and large there's no problem with shared use at Snuff Mills, and the same can be said of current arrangements in Wickham Glen. The glaringly obvious issue is the perfectly good alternative cycle route up Wickham Hill, which is relatively traffic free and not a massive diversion for cyclists. Turning the route from Eastville to UWE into a race track is a really bad idea for everyone else who enjoys it as it is.

John said...

I totally disagree with these outrageous proposals.
I walk & cycle regularly from Downend to Eastville Lake and cycle on up to Purdown and back down to the Frome Valley.
I suppose ones attitude depends whether your a serious commuter or pleasure cyclist.
Being an off road cyclist it used to be a bit aukward at the barrier by Frome Cottages ( Till someone pushed a bit of the wall over )Also I used to take the footpath right close to the river bank to observe the wild life. ( bit aukward if they put a fence along there.
I have seen many commuters and pleasure cyclists using this route and none that I know of have found any difficulty.
I know it's not the Wickham Glen but I have to carry my mountain bike up 50 odd steps by Muller Rd library to reach Purdown. Where's it all going to end? Purhaps they will put a zig zag or ramp there as well and tarmac the path across the top.
I think this cycling city prestige thing is going OTT. It's seems to be all about making things easier for cyclist in the false hope that it will help reduce traffic congestion.
I agree with all the other comments, It's a blot on the landscape to desicrate such a beautiful glen. I just for the life of me understand the logic in the minds of the proposers. Prestige???

Martyn said...

I think there is a central concern here - don't create problems where they don't exist. Building a single track road will facilitate and encourage anti-social behaviour in the form of unwanted motorised vehicles. It will entail further spending on restrictive gates and policing, when resources can be better allocated elsewhere.

Hilary Jones said...

I attended the CRIM (Cycle Route Implementation) Meeting re these proposals back in March on behalf of Mark and voiced concern about having a wide path and the proposed ramp and the felling of trees. I also queried why we needed another exit from Wickham Glen ,when there is, in my view, already an adequate road on Wickham Hill which carries very little motor traffic. I was told these views would be taken into consideration but I had the feeling back then that most of this was a ‘done deal’! I think these proposals will ruin Wickham Glen and should be opposed.

Also discussed were parking restrictions on Broomhill Road leading to the mini roundabout and putting a no right turn at the roundabout!! Lots of things to keep an eye on!

markL said...

A worrying excerpt from the cycling city project update june 2010

"Eastville Park path improvements
Following work carried out in 2009/10 further work will continue in 2010 to construct
a 120m access ramp from Eastville park to Broom Hill. These improvements are part
of other improvements to the Frome Greenway which links the Northern fringe with
the city centre."

the full report can be seen here


has the decision already been made?

Woodburner said...

A ramp of 120m x 3m will make a huge impact, taking out a substantial proportion of the trees between the current path and the road, in its construction. This seems little short of vandalism, and I wonder just who thought this scheme up? I can't believe it's too late to stop it or compromise in the face of such strong opposition from the very cyclists Cycling City purports to support.

Martyn said...

The proposal for the tarmac path (single track road) is not only for pedestrian and cycle use, but to provide access for the council's works vehicles and lorries. I think they should be more honest about that.

andy-s said...

There is no need for any of this - as others have been pointing out there is a perfectly good roadway linking the park to the main road. Constructing a large cycleway with fencing, associated tree removal and ramp building is completely bonkers! Don't do it!

Mogz said...

The e-petition regarding this ramp went live today.
Following the site meeting at Wickham Glen which was very well attended, I am inclined to believe that the impact that this scheme will have will be countered by reassurances give about replanting and fencing concerns. It appears that there are NOT plans to run a 3m wide fenced cyclepath across the meadow, merely to reinstate the existing path with similiar materials to those already in use. This will be done after associated constrction traffic is finished needing access to the ramp site.
The only plan is to bypass the troublesome Frome Terrace stile using the ramp. The exit from Blackberry Hill should be sensitively crafted so as to blend in totally(none of these dreadful sculptures BCC seem to like so much). The width of the ramp will be narrowed to 2.5m to lessen visual impact and will not be fenced its entire length, if at all.
Once confirmation is received that this is indeed the case, the e-petition will be withdrawn.
While a bollard at the entrance is unlikely to deter antisocial behaviour though, this item still need looking at.
We're still not sure though, how will all these cycles, pushchairs and wheelchairs exit onto Wickham Bridge? Another discussion required there too?

Martyn said...

It is still far more logical and safer for cyclists to use Wickham Hill, leaving the open green space for the enjoyment of walkers who constitute the majority of people using the glen. Funneling everyone onto the same path will create problems where they do not currently exist.

Those with mobility issues can also get access via Wickham Hill, which is actually safer than the main road on Blackberry Hill, or as SteveL suggests a little 'zig-zag' rather than a huge long ramp that will ultimately encourage some cyclists to speed.

The council seriously needs to rethink this whole matter, taking into full account the local community rather than pandering to the wishes of a small group of cycle commuters.

stevem said...

Following on from Mogz comments. Here's the link to the epetition: http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/epetition_core/community/confirm/xqDZwiqpC2wbsX4#div_sigs

A large number of SMAG members and some residents from Frome Terrace met Cllr Jon Rogers and Nick Pates from Cycling City yesterday.

It was a tense and difficult meeting, but by the end of it we think there was some significant offers to improve the scheme. We think the Council agreed to:
1. Commence the ramp from the place previously designated on the plan already submitted by BCC, where it will join the existing path.
2. Its width will be 2.5m rather than 3m to minimise visual impact
3. The surface will be tarmac which it is hoped will weather down in time as this represents the most hardwearing solution
4. Health and safety permitting, there will be no fence enclosing it as the slope off towards the river is only 1 in 2 and the replanting on that slope will form a barrier.
5. If any of the ramp is to be fenced it will be of a similiar type already in situ on Blackberry Hill/Frome Terrace
6. That replanting will be of native trees and of adequate volume to compensate for canopy loss as a result of the ramp construction.
7. That Frome Terrace residents' concerns in regard to future tree management are met.
8. There are no plans to widen, fence or tarmac the path from its junction with the ramp through the meadow to Wickham Hill, and that it will be reinstated along its current route at its current width.
9. The entrance to the ramp on Blackberry Hill must be as unobtrusive as possible, bearing in mind the conservation area status afforded the area.

As Mogz says, we hope to withdraw this epetition as soon as we have reassruances that the changes listed above have been agreed. However, there is no harm in signing it to keep the pressure on.

Laura T said...

I love this quiet meadow and really enjoy walking my dogs through here away from the hustle and bustle of the main park. It is very peaceful and full of butterflies and birdlife. I really dont see the need for the fencing whcih will spoil a lovely place to walk and reflect.

Martyn said...

SteveL: Couldn't agree more about the simple zig zag, which work well in providing access to the famous Railway Path! As per our meeting today (17.02.11) I can't believe the Council have not thought about the connection from the end of the path at Frome Terrace through to Stoke Park as the increase in UWE cycle traffic is a prime real reason for all this. Surely cyclists will not be happy with being forced into crossing over the road onto the existing cycle lane beside Grove Wood road and then back onto the road a little further up. BCC will will need to do something to make the route completely safe and smooth, otherwise it defeats the whole objective of the ramp.