Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Stand up for Wickham Glen

Please help us stop a 3m (that's more than 9 feet) wide cyclists' expressway from ruining Wickham Glen forever. The Council's Cycling City Team say they want to build a ramp from Wickham Glen up to Broom Hill so that cyclists can get in to town more quickly and to enable better disabled access.

These are all good things of course, but the Cycling City Team have not taken in to account the unique character of Wickham Glen. It's a really beautiful spot next to the river between Eastville Park and Snuff Mills and has a long history dating back to the Civil War. It's not like a park but more like a bit of countryside in the city and Snuff Mills Action Group is strongly against it being covered in tarmac, spoiling this unique character.

We have objected to the planning application and urge you to send in statements objecting to the scheme too. Send your statement to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk by noon on September 14th. Please quote: Land adjacent to Frome Terrace, Blackberry Hill,Bristol(ref:10/02839/FB) in the subject field of your email.
It will then be considered by the South and East Development Control Committee of the Council the next day. In your statement you could argue that:

1) For cyclists there is a perfectly acceptable alternative to building a cyclists expressway through Wickham Glen by using Wickham Hill instead. This is a cul de sac with very litte traffic and it leads straight down to the river - it's already there so why throw more tarmac at the area?

2) A 3m wide tarmac ramp and path will spoil the unique character of the area which is part of the Stapleton Conservation Area and a wildlife site. A much narrower path surfaced with more appropriate materials would be more in keeping

In response to suggestions by Snuff Mills Action Group to reduce the width of the path or use Wickham Hill lane the Cycling City Team claim they are also trying to improve access for disabled people. We applaud this idea but have tested the proposals with 78 year old Ivor Needs and his son, Matt, who uses a wheelchair. They tell us this proposal will not help wheelchair users because:


1) It's a long ramp that leads up to Broom Hill and it needs level resting places otherwise it is too much of a long climb
2) The ramp will come out on Broom Hill higher up than the current exit on Frome Terrace. This means there is a steeper uphill climb to reach the ramp which would be difficult for wheelchair users
3) There is no provision for crossing Broom Hill which is a notorious accident blackspot and this scheme will endanger both wheelchair users and cyclists alike

Ivor does not see the need for a really wide path either. He believes a much narrower path will maintain the beauty of the area and discourage cyclists from speeding and encourage them to respect walkers. We also believes the path should exit on to Broom Hill by Frome Terrace following the line of the current footpath as this really would help wheelchair users and result in the loss of many less trees than the current plan.

You may be interested to know that we reached a compromise with Cycling City following a meeting on site a few weeks ago. They agreed a narrower path and other changes to the scheme, but then emailed us the following week to say this was no longer acceptable because of the needs of the 'disabled community'. A few of us in Snuff Mills Action Group work with people with disabilities and we have been very offended at the way the Cycling City team seem to have cynically used the needs of disabled users to promote what is really a road - but a road that just happens to be for cyclists.

14 comments:

Andrew H said...

A 3m path really isn't needed for wheelchair users. 2m to 2.5m would be adequate, especially in such a beautiful Conservation Area.

I cannot see why the ramp cannot go where the footpath already is by Frome Terrace. It's flatter there making it easier for wheelchair users.

Why mess around with the path when it's already there, it just needs to be improved for bikes and wheelchairs.

I hope that pennant sandstone is used for any building work, the traditional building stone for the area.

Mogz said...

While initially being totally against the idea, the promise of a narrower ramp, tree replanting, a sympathetically designed entrance and no fencing seemed like a reasonable compromise. The ensuing refusal to honour these understandings in what seems like the name of a pro cycling dogma has returned my viewpoint to the way it was in the first place. No ramp here, its unsuitable for a conservation area and will turn Wickham Glen into a cycle highway. There is not adequate provision for cyclist and pededstrian crossing on or near the bend on Blackberry Hill either.
Local residents' concerns over tree management should be listened to and dealt with separately, and the use of the existing stile by antisocial elements of the cycling community should be dealt with without resorting to such extreme means.
It would appear that BCC don't seem to understand what the term "Conservation Area" means!

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Woodburner said...

Well said, Mogz! It all starts to look a bit cynical on the part of Cycling City and BCC. The council folk who were at the site meeting where the compromise was AGREED appear to have been overruled without any further discussion. Despite one of them being a Cabinet member, who you would have thought would have some clout...I'm beginning to get a whiff of hidden agendas at the Counts Louse!

stevem said...

Objection from Kate:

Wickham Glen is an area in which I regularly walk . It has a very special character which is quite unlike nearby Eastville Park and Snuff Mills. It really feels like the countryside as it used to be when I was young. This morning there was a family picking blackberries and a couple of dogwalkers who stopped to talk to me there. Some cyclists came past managing to negotiate the paths with ease. A relaxed and beautiful place for all sorts of people.
Is this part of Stapleton Conservation Area going to have the equivalent of a motorway built through it? That is what this proposal means. How can a bicycle, pram or wheelchair need a path of 3 metres width. It is completely disproportionate.

Kate

stevem said...

Objection from Eddie:

I am writing to object to the above planning proposal. I write as a cyclist
who uses Wickham Hill and Eastville Park as part of my route from
Fishponds to work in central Bristol.

Whilst I support the further development of cycle routes across the city;
where, as in this case, it involves the destruction or damage of a highly
valued green space
and there is a perfectly acceptable alternative route, then such a proposal
should not be approved.

Wickham Glen in its current form is an attractive river-side meadow with a
strong rural character, part of a green corridor extending along the Frome
valley that gives this part of Bristol its special character, highly valued
by the local population. This proposal would permanently alter this
character and is totally un-necessary.

The more sensible and appropriate alternative in this case is to use the
parallel Wickham Hill as part of the cycle route, a non-traffic roadway
already well used by cyclists and walkers, including myself.

On a more general point, one of the key attractions of cycling is the
variety of roads, tracks and pathways, places and spaces that you pass
through on your journey; some of which may meander or entail a degree of
effort or route-finding. The idea of cycling 'super-highways', with uniform
tarmac surfaces and infrastructure, may look attractive on paper or a map
but is counter-intuitive to an environmentally-friendly initiative in
practice. Cycle routes which are made up of sections with differing
character and terrain act as a necessary counter-balance to high-speed
cyclists simply using a route as a way of getting from A to B, rather than
traveling through diverse and interesting places.

I would urge you to reject this proposal for the reasons outlined above.

Yours sincerely

Eddie

stevem said...

Objection from John and Kath:

Dear Sir or Madam,
I understand there is a proposal to build a ramp from Frome Terrace steps down into Wickham Glen as part of cycling city initiative. While being a keen cyclist I believe such a structure would urbanise what is practically an unspoilt stretch of the Frome valley. It will inevitably encourage unauthorised access by the anti social brigade. Motor cyclists and hooligans etc. They even dumped a scooter up stream by Halfpenny Bridge last week. It does open up easy access for fly tipping.
I am no longer a cycling commuter, but that stretch of the valley is part of my regular off road circuit from Downend to Purdown.I come across a few commuters who have no problems negotiating the Terrace steps and stile. While the family with their child trailer make use of Whickham Hill.I would hate to see it ruined like the stretch from Colston Weir to Eastville Lake. It may be all very well for the dog walkers etc not to get their feet muddy, but I don't believe it's in the best interest of a cycling city.( Which let's face it, has nothing to do with traffic jams. Just prestige)
Also it will encourage the speeding cycling fraternity that I have experienced on the Bristol / Bath cycle route.
What would be the easiest and cheapest improvement of access would be to allow the public to use the gate onto the private pavement in front of Frome Terrace and do away with the stile. No doubt some incentive to the residents would be required. Also a wheelie bin location would be required. Having said that I wouldn't like people passing that close to my front window.
No doubt other objections have already mentioned the effects on nature. Trees, wild life, etc.
I really do believe this proposal is absolutely unnecessary and the money could be better used elsewhere.
Yours,

Anonymous said...

Here is my objection,its A little long so have posted it in two parts.

I wish to object to the plans for a cyclists’ superhighway through Wickham Glen in the Stapleton Conservation Area. I regard a three metre wide ramp path up to Broom Hill to be too wide for this location. I understand that the Cycling City Team have argued that such a wide path is required to enable cyclists and wheelchair users to use the path safely.

I support people with a variety of disabilities, including wheelchair users. From my own experience of supporting people I believe that a 3m wide path would not be justified for disability access to Wickham Glen. I regularly take people in my care to Snuff Mills and other open spaces. In these locations the paths are rarely more than 2m wide. Yet there are no conflicts or problems between cyclists and wheelchair users. Sustrans, who are responsible for the national cycle network, confirm that such conflicts are over-stated in their recommendations on multi-use paths (Sustrans User Sheet FF42). In fact I find that narrower paths make people more courteous and respectful of each other’s needs. The proposal for the cyclists superhighway at Wickham Glen will have the opposite effect and it will encourage fast cyclists to aggressively use this track, endangering the safety and experience of other users. I believe the disability access issue is therefore being used by the Cycling City team to justify a fast route to the centre of town and are not really in the best interests of disabled people.

While some national guidelines might argue that a 3m wide path is the best width for a multiple use path, this does not take in to account the special character of Wickham Glen. It is in a Conservation Area and is also of high value to wildlife. Anyone walking through the Glen will enjoy its peace and tranquility and its special character. While it would be wonderful for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs to be able to access the Glen with a better surfaced path, a 3m wide path is simply too wide. I have been down there with a wheelchair user recently to find out from real experience what the issues are. The current width of the path is not a problem, it is the surface and the barriers at each end that are the problem for wheelchair users. Even with greater use of this route by cyclists, I am certain that a well surfaced path of 2m or 2.5m width (2.5m is the optimal width recommended by Sustrans) would be more than sufficient. It should be remembered this is a very quiet part of the Frome Valley and it is not as well used as Eastville Park or Snuff Mills, which both have excellent facilities such as decent car parking, toilets or a café.

kathjefferson said...

Hi!

As a passionate cyclist I was very disappointed to hear of the Cycling City Team's plans and attitudes. I would gladly put my name to any protest against this 'road' happening.

Kathryn

markL said...

Another message of support

As a passionate cyclist I was very disappointed to hear of the Cycling City Team's plans and attitudes. I would gladly put my name to any protest against this 'road' happening.

Kathryn

Sandy said...

Objection from Sandra and Ken

We are walkers who enjoy Wickham Glen.

We are also cyclists, and puzzled at the proposal of a wide cycle expressway through the Glen, when adequate access directly to the river already exists from Wickham Hill.

To suggest an alternative, where other members of the community would also benefit :

A much narrower path, suitably surfaced, exiting onto Broom Hill by Frome Terrace along the line of the current footpath.

This would benefit the disabled community, as well as cyclists.

The Planning Application would only benefit cyclists. Its expressway, exiting higher up Broom Hill, imposes one steep climb; its long access ramp, another. Lengthy climbs for anyone with mobility problems.

At one hopeful point, the City Cycling Team did agree a compromise. Until they had the afterthought that the needs of the disabled community would be better served by their original proposal. On this noble principle, they reneged on the compromise.

The transparent reality - that the disabled community are being used to exploit the situation and benefit the able-bodied – is offensive.

We respectfully hope you agree and reject the planning application.




From two cyclists who believe our unspoilt treasures can be enjoyed equally by all members of our society.

Sandra and Ken Morgan

Anonymous said...

The proposed cycle path through Wickham Glen is a totally preposterous idea which could only be thought up by the minority cycle lobby. As for saying it would be in the interests of disabled people, this is a total nonsense. Have any members of the Council or the cycling fraternity ever tried pushing a wheelchair up even a small ramp? My sister, before her death last year, liked to be taken to Snuff Mills but we found that even the short steep path by the double-ended egg boiler was hard work, let alone a long ramp.



There is a totally adequate road from the stone bridge up to the top of Blackberry Hill so why should a beauty spot in a CONSERVATION AREA be ruined. In this day and age we should be trying to preserve what is good in our lives and this means not allowing trees and grass to be uprooted so that cyclists can ride at even greater speed through this area and possibly motor-cyclists as well.



Not only would this path ruin Wickham Glen but would mean that walkers are in even more danger from the 99% of cyclists who speed up behind you without announcing they are approaching by ringing a bell. We do not think that in this instance the marriage of cyclists and walkers is a good thing and hope that for once the views of the majority are listened to.



Sandra and Keith

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir/Madam,
I have recently heard about the proposal to create a tarmac cycleway through the beautiful Wickham Glen. This really does seem unnecessary. I regularly walk through the Glen from Eastville Park to Stapleton Baptist Church, a very peaceful and attractive stroll through unspoilt countryside. As you can appreciate, if there has been a lot of rain the footpath can be extremely muddy, and muddy boots/shoes are not particularly welcome in church! In these circumstances we use Wickham Hill, a very suitable and traffic-free alternative on wet days. It is also an excellent route for pushchairs, wheelchairs and cyclists.
If you really have to spoil the valley with tarmac or preferably a nature-friendly suitable alternative I wish to propose the following options.

1. Keep the width of the path to a minimum, 6 feet max. The approach route to the Glen from Colston Weir is only of this magnitude. This is wide enough for pushchairs/ wheelchairs/ cycles and even pedestrians to slowly pass each other. The bridge by the weir is much narrower. Even if it is renewed it is unlikely to be 10 feet wide.

2. Retain the existing route via Frome Terrace and if need be build a gentle ramp here. There is no need to destroy lots of trees to build a ramp further back. This would be too steep for disabled users and intersect with a very dangerous bend on Blackberry Hill with the safest way of crossing much further down the hill.

Please seriously consider my proposals,
Thank you,
Geoff

Anonymous said...

You may not be aware that a meeting was held between park users and council officials on 9 sept, to discuss concerns over the whole of the cycle path through the park (and including the proposed ramp). Detailed notes from this meeting were taken and are available - let me know if you want a copy. I strongly disagree with the whole of this scheme, especially the ramp. Amongst other things, at this meeting, it was noted that the council representative stated that the bylaw that prohibits cycling in the park "will be revoked". On the assumption that it is not possible to selectively revoke a bylaw, it seems that the proposal to get rid of this bylaw will affect all park areas of Bristol? Citing the needs of disabled people by the council is really just a cynical attempt to push through a badly thought out, dangerous and environmentally destructive cycling scheme. Rather than try to accomodate any form of ramp, I recommend outright opposition to the plan.