Bristol Bridge closure: last chance to have your say

Bristolians have until Monday to give their views on the closure of Bristol Bridge to general traffic, which has reduced congestion and improved bus reliability in the central area.

In August last year priority was given to buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians travelling through the city centre, with new camera-monitored bus gates installed on Bristol Bridge, Baldwin Street and Union Street.

Motorised vehicles can still access Baldwin Street and Union Street using other routes but they can no longer use these streets to cut through the city.

Traffic on the roads where the bus gates have been introduced has dropped, on average, by around half as a result of the move, with First West of England taking advantage of the change by doubling the number of route 2 buses that cross Bristol Bridge.

The scheme is one part of a package of major transport improvements to ease congestion and pollution across the city. These plans were already in the pipeline, but were accelerated to help Bristolians safely navigate the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are taking bold action to create a better, more connected future for everyone in and around Bristol. Restricting through-traffic from the city centre is one way we will help to protect public health and unlock barriers to inclusive economic growth with cleaner air, safer and better public transport, and improved walking and cycling routes for everyone.

We want to capture the benefits that lockdown brought to our air quality wherever possible, and protect the long-term health of the city as well as the viability of our bus services that are crucial for our communities.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

The scheme had been implemented temporarily as a trial, with the intention to make it permanent if it’s successful.

Anyone who uses Bristol Bridge, particularly local businesses, is invited to have their say in the formal consultation period, which ends at midnight on Monday (1 February).

The council will consider all the feedback from the consultation before deciding whether to make the scheme permanent, with a decision expected in the summer, depending on the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

We appreciate this has been a big change for the city’s transport network and that there will be a period of adjustment as we all get used to the new road layouts. We have been monitoring the impacts of the trial closely and we’re really keen for local residents, businesses and groups to take part in the consultation and give us their views on how it has gone.

Before the current lockdown, Bristol’s air pollution was rising again and it is vital that we do everything we can to bring levels down to within legally compliant levels in the shortest time possible. While it cannot deliver clean air for Bristol by itself and we need to continue exploring clean air zone options, there are positive indications that this change will improve air quality and bus reliability on some of the city’s previously most congested roads without impacting negatively on others. So far we have not seen significant problems elsewhere on the network as a result, even during times when traffic has reached pre-COVID-19 levels.

We are making lots of improvements to make walking and cycling easier and safer and we would encourage Bristolians to make use of the dedicated routes we are providing, as well as having their say in the Bristol Bridge consultation.

Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport

We have always been of the belief that our response to this pandemic gave us the opportunity to rethink our approach to the city’s transport infrastructure.

Moves such as the pedestrianisation of parts of the city centre and improving access for buses have enabled us to provide more efficient transport links for customers travelling into this part of the city, with over 25 routes serving the centre. We took immediate advantage of this by increasing the number of route 2 buses that cross Bristol Bridge with the introduction of a new 2a route from Stockwood to Southmead, which runs parallels to the number 2 for most of its route.

We have seen bus punctuality improve as a result of the change in access and have had some great feedback from our customers who travel on these routes.

As we navigate ongoing restrictions to movement, we continue to work closely with Bristol City Council and the West of England Combined Authority to ensure our services effectively respond to proposed changes and meet the needs of the travelling public.

Chris Hanson, Operations Director First West of England

To give your views on the scheme visit the Consultation Hub by Monday 1 February.

For more information, visit: www.bristol.gov.uk/bristolbridgeinfo

Press release by Bristol City Council.