13 August 2018
An initiative designed to promote positive behaviour on shared paths was launched on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path (BBRP) yesterday.
Designed to tackle conflict that can arise between different users on shared paths, the initiative encourages positive actions and behaviour by all.
Developed in partnership with BBRP’s newly established community stewardship group, Up our Street, and the Councils who own and manage the path (Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council), One Path is an alternative to physical change, focusing on people and behaviour with the key message of ‘Share, Respect and Enjoy’.
There are approximately four million trips per year on the 13-mile long BBRP, making it one of the busiest dedicated traffic-free routes in the UK.
A recent survey counted more than 5,000 trips per day along the Whitehall section alone. Numbers peak during the morning and evening rush hours, with nearly 1,000 people using this section between 8 am and 9 am. With this high level of use, there are increasing levels of conflict and accidents.
Piloted in Northern Ireland in 2016, the programme aims to engage with path users, listen to their concerns, analyse the issues and collaborate with them, local authorities and community groups to find potential solutions. Questionnaire interviews will be undertaken over the next few weeks at various points on the Bristol section where most of the issues have arisen. Ideas for physical changes will also be collected for consideration at a later date.
James Cleeton, Sustrans England Director South said the organisation is committed to ensuring the BBRP is a viable space which can be enjoyed by all users, whether by foot or by wheel.
He said: “At peak times the path is very congested and users can experience increased levels of conflict.
“This is damaging its value to the communities it serves because the least confident and most vulnerable users are dissuaded from using it. We have instigated the One Path Initiative to ensure that its value to people and the localities it serves is enhanced and protected for generations to come.
“We are committed to a Bristol and Bath Railway Path that is a community space for everyone - a park, path and place for all, by foot or by wheel, enabling healthy lifestyles in a green and biodiverse corridor linking the two cities and communities across the West of England.”
Councillor Mhairi Threlfall, Cabinet Member for Transport and Connectivity at Bristol City Council, said: “We are making improvements to Bristol’s physical infrastructure with upgrades to walkways and cycle routes, but this is only one part of creating a well-connected, efficient network.
“Conflict between pedestrians and cyclists is a growing challenge as more people choose to travel short journeys sustainably, by foot or bike, and we are concerned about anything which could disrupt or dissuade people from continuing these journeys.
“This has been no more evident than on the popular Bristol to Bath Railway path, and we want to work with local people, path users and non-path users alike, to identify how we alleviate pinch points and problem areas so we can all travel together in harmony.”
South Gloucestershire Councillor Paul Hughes, Cabinet Member for Communities and Tourism, said: “The Bristol to Bath Railway Path is a wonderful resource for everyone and we are pleased to support an initiative which promotes it to new users and encourages sharing the space safely for people walking and riding, whether they are out to get fit or just take a leisurely ride or walk with friends and family.
“The section through South Gloucestershire is very popular and I want everyone to be able to use the path together, to respect each other as equal users and to be safe as they enjoy our wonderful environment.”
Zoe Banks-Gross, a Bristol-based environmentalist and founder of East Bristol Kidical Mass, a movement to encourage families to ride bicycles for transportation, exercise and fun said: “The Bristol to Bath Railway Path is my favourite local linear park.
“It’s an ecological corridor, an oasis for human city dwellers and an excellent traffic-free resource for everyone not just people on road bikes going fast. Just like other public spaces in the city, we need to share it and make sure it stays accessible for everyone.”