Bristol has been awarded additional funding from the UK government to upgrade walking and cycling routes across the city. The project, called the Cycle Ambition Fund (CAF), runs from April 2015 to March 2018. The CAF project is a range of schemes and initiatives that seek to encourage people of all ages and ability to cycle more to reduce traffic congestion, improve the health of citizens, and reduce carbon emissions for a cleaner environment for all.

One of the new routes we want to introduce is the Filwood Quietway, which is intended to connect Filwood with Bristol City Centre.

This new route will give communities in South Bristol a proper, attractive and healthier alternative for travel.  The route has a number of sections we are progressing – Whitehouse Street, Victoria Park, St John’s Lane/Wedmore Vale and Northern Slopes.  For the Northern Slopes section, we have prepared a scheme design and discussed it with a number of stakeholders, including the Northern Slopes Initiative (NSI).

We are now undertaking an informal, local community consultation before we submit a planning application. People will also be able to comment on the planning application.

Find out more about the Filwood Quiteway route.

Planning application

The Council has lodged a planning application for the improved walking and cycling route through Glyn Vale Open Space Park.  The planning application reference number is 17/03959/FB.

It can be viewed on the Council’s public website by inserting the reference number.

Route and Design

On the eastern side of the Glyn Vale Open Space, an existing path runs north from Kenmare Road to an access point by the Glyn Vale/Wedmore Vale junction.  This path is only 2.0m wide and much of it is enclosed by trees and scrubland.  There is no existing lighting, so it can be dark and some users may not feel safe.

Existing path (BCC)

We propose to build a route that would widen parts of the existing path and have sections of new path.  After discussions with stakeholders, it has been agreed the new path would be 3.0m wide.  Those parts of the existing path that are not changed will remain as an alternative route for walkers only.  In the future, it may be desirable to remove these existing path sections and replant them.

The majority of stakeholders want the new path to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists.  A shared path may help to encourage cyclists to travel more slowly.  To encourage cyclists to give due consideration to pedestrians, we intend to have rumble strip effect surfacing and some advisory signage at junctions with other paths and on approaches to access points.  The new path will be constructed with blacktop bituminous material but we are considering surfacing the new path with buff-coloured anti-skid surfacing, like the existing path, to make it less slippery.

When leaving the Open Space area and heading north, the Filwood Quietway would continue along the proposed St John’s Lane/Wedmore Vale cycle route we are also developing and consulted upon earlier in the year.  If heading south, we intend to sign a recommended route, initially using some of the quiet roads, such as Newry Walk and Connaught Road.  Further south, new sections of the Filwood Quietway can only be delivered when the Council gets further funding or as part of development proposals, such as at Filwood Broadway.

Plan showing proposed route (BCC) – Click to enlarge

Proposed path near north entrance, looking south (BCC)

Impact on Trees and Planting

Although the existing path is almost straight, much of it is very steep and going up the hill can be quite difficult and be tiring from some users.  Coming downhill, some cyclists may go fast, which can be potentially unsafe for them and other people, as the existing path is quite narrow.

The new bendy route will make the path less steep.  Building this path will require a lot of earthworks, making the path higher in places (fill) and lower in others (cut) by up to 1.0m.  The full width of these earthworks will be up to 15.0m wide and this will require some existing trees and the planting to be removed.  Trying to do the same to the existing path would have needed earthworks up to 20.0m wide, resulting in the loss of lots more trees and planting, including some mature trees.

We have undertaken an ecology study and a tree survey and, whilst there will be some loss, the new route is designed so we are avoiding bigger trees and the more sensitive planting areas.  The tree survey makes recommendations with regard to removing some poor value trees and also preparing a tree protection plan for the works.

Construction of the new path does give the opportunity to undertake some tree/scrubland maintenance, create new grassland habitats and plant new vegetation.

Other Route Options

A number of alternative route options were considered, which could take the cycle route outside of the Open Space or through its west side.  However, these were rejected by the CAF for the reasons outlined in Table 1 below.
Route OptionConsideration
Wedmore Vale (south section)This route is steep, which is not attractive for cyclists going uphill. It is quite a busy road, so we would want to install a segregated two-way cycle route. This would require on-street parking to be removed, but houses on the west side have no driveways. A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) would be required, which is subject to statutory consultation and possible objections.
Connaught Road (west), Kenmare Road (west), Donegal Road, Glyn Vale, Kingswear Road Open Space, Marksbury Road This route is slightly longer than going through Glyn Vale Open Space. Some of the roads are steep. Most roads have parked vehicles on both sides and we would need to remove parking from at least one side. The route would require a number of crossing facilities. Some sections are bus routes, affecting what road layout or traffic management changes could be made. A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) would be required, which is subject to statutory consultation and possible objections.There is no fixed date for when the section of route through the development site at Timsbury Road would be opened.
Melvin Square, Galway Road, Glyn Vale Open Space (west), Glyn Vale, Kingswear Road Open Space, Marksbury RoadMelvin Square is quite a busy road and a couple of crossing facilities would be required, with stakeholder input on route type and design. Most roads have parked vehicles on both sides and we would need to remove parking from at least one side. A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) would be required, which is subject to statutory consultation and possible objections. Glyn Vale Open Space would require a construction of a new path, which would run close to the events area (this route was previously rejected by NSI because of this, although it now supports the west route). Access from the Open Space onto Glyn Vale is very narrow, with limited opportunity to improve it. There is no fixed date for when the section of route through the development site at Timsbury Road would be opened.

Lighting

Whilst lighting the new path is not mandatory, it is desirable to light it so that users feel safer and more secure during hours of darkness.

We propose to use intelligent LED lighting heads:-

  • The system operates at standard brightness until the suggested time of 7:00 pm, when there are fewer people likely to be using the route;
  • After 7:00 pm, the lights can be set to dim down to 30% brightness or less;
  • The lights can be set to switch off, if there is no demand after certain hours;
  • For special events, the lighting can be remotely controlled to fully deactivate, as and when wanted; and
  • All of these times are indicative and can be amended in consultation with the community.

It is appreciated that there are concerns with regard to the impact on wildlife, particularly bats.  It is proposed, therefore, to use warm LED lighting that will be directed at the path only. The proposed heads we have chosen will obscure the light source from above and behind in order to keep the light spill to a minimum. Additionally, the column height will be approximately 4.7m and spaced at approximately 30.0m to reduce the number needed.  With the dimmed lighting activated and ability to switch the lights off during the middle of the night, this will reduce the impact on nocturnal wildlife, especially bats.

Bats hibernate during the winter months when the lights would be most in use. A survey along the proposed route found no evidence of any bat roosts in any adjacent tree.  In addition, lighting will be downwards rather than onto the trees.

We did consider alternative lighting solutions, such as solar-powered studs and bollards, but their lighting output is much lower and does not comply with British Standards for path lighting, which are the recommended standards we use for public paths.  If we had decided to use such lighting, we would have had to install lots more, at 5.0m spacing approximately.  This would have created a runway effect for the studs and barrier-type effect for the bollards, and would have had a significant negative visual impact.

We also considered using shorter columns but we would have needed more of them, requiring closer spacing and increased power consumption.

Proposed lighting head
(Philips Lighting)

Example of lighting column & head
(Philips Lighting)

Proposed path with lighting near south end, looking south from existing path (BCC)

Entrance Barriers

Glyn Vale Open Space has a number of access points around its boundary. The majority of these can be used by users of standard size wheelchairs, whilst most cyclists have to dismount to negotiate the access barriers. The Open Space does suffer from instances of anti-social behaviour, such as fly-tipping, motorbikes/mopeds gaining access the park, and feedback from some of the stakeholders did not support making access significantly easier, in case this results in increased levels of anti-social behaviour.

The new path connects to two access points. The south access is located at Kenmare Road and has two sets of ‘kissing’ gates. The north access is located at Wedmore Vale and has a vehicular gate and a kissing gate arrangement. We have considered this matter with stakeholders, as part of the design development process and agreed on the following minor changes:

  • Alter the second kissing gate at the south access, being further away from Kenmare Road, to move it so a K-frame barrier can installed
  • Alter the north access barrier arrangement by moving barriers into the Open Space area and installing a new K-frame barrier

These minor improvements will help cyclists to enter and exit slightly quicker and without conflicting with users of two of the kissing gates.

Existing south access barrier (BCC)

Existing north access barriers (BCC)

Example of K-frame (kbarriers.co.uk)                                                

Ecology

The ecology survey notes the combination of different habitats, the value of the site as part of a wildlife corridor, and the important role the site plays in allowing people to enjoy contact with wildlife. When considered in its entirety, the open space is considered to have nature conservation value in a city-wide context. This is reflected in its designation as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). It is also designated as a Local Nature Reserve.

The ecology report states the best means of mitigation would be to avoid the areas identified as being of greatest nature conservation value and the new route seeks to do this. The report suggests there would be a benefit in measures that include some scrub clearance in order to extend existing grassland areas, especially clearance at a particular central area adjacent to the existing path, would be valuable. The reports also state that where areas of wooded habitat are affected then the best means of achieving mitigation would be through management to diversify the structure of other wooded areas.

An initial bat survey was undertaken during 2016 and whilst bats were recorded, the level of activity was relatively minimal for the green space location. Additional surveys were undertaken in 2017 and suggest no trees with possible bat roosts would be affected.

Construction does mean there will be some initial impact and effect on wildlife and vegetation but it is considered that once new planting starts to grow and establish itself, this impact will be reduced over time. It should be noted the Glyn Vale Open Space is a large area and we are changing a relatively small part of it.

Other Potential Improvements

The key objective of the new cycle route is to provide a section of the Filwood Quietway and this would encourage users to walk and cycle through Glyn Vale Open Space rather than use on-road alternative routes.  However, creation of the new path does give an opportunity to encourage users to also consider Glyn Vale Open Space as a destination, in its own right.

 

To help enhance the attractiveness of the location, additional improvements could be implemented, subject to agreement with stakeholders, especially the local community.  Such measures could include:-

  • Provision of seating and tables, probably best using natural materials, such as tree trunks and boulders
  • Information boards/signage, which helps share information about the Open Space, its history/development, flora and fauna, etc
  • Woodland and plant maintenance
  • Additional planting
  • Informal picnic area, near Wedmore Vale/Glyn Vale entrance
  • Bird and bat boxes

Example of boulder seating (Mid Wales Stone)

The new path and additional improvements offer an opportunity for some investment in the Glyn Vale Open Space. This can help enhance the existing benefits of the Local Nature Reserve and encourage more people to visit it.

Existing path in middle section looking north with new cycle route crossing it (BCC)

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