In my role as Joint Cabinet Member for Transport(2019-2021) at B&NES Council I was aware of the ongoing issue of poor connect ability across the region and the real need for a vision to transform the region and enable many to walk and cycle. As a resident of Lambridge, on the east of Bath for many years it was obvious how the need for high quality to connect communities was missing in the landscape and this was why so many were using cars for short journeys. I therefore made the following “Greenway” proposal to council Officers. This vision is now generating the ”River Line Project” and the newly announced National Trust ”Green Corridor”.
Text below is from 2020.
(The Minerva Way. The Emerald Line, The Bladud’s Way, The Bramble Way, The Elderberry Line)
Box to Bath to Bristol and back
A Walking and Cycling Vision
Our vision is to create a sustainably Connected Region,fit for the future, which will promote active travel, improve community health and reduce short car journeys.
The aim of The Greenway would be to create a new route along the valley floor that stretches from Box to Bristol. This will also act as a spine, from which walking and cycling routes up to the plateaus of Bath and other destinations along the way can be created.
This is a bold vision that would provide better car free connections from East to West whilst also encouraging links from North to South. Presently the proximity to heavy traffic, which is neither pleasant or safe, discourages many from walking and cycling.
The aim is to provide a direct and largely traffic-free pedestrian and cycle route connecting Box to Bristol along the valley floor. This vision for dedicated walking and cycle infrastructure will encompass Bathampton Meadows, Kensington Meadows, the Kennett and Avon Canal, the disused railway line in Newbridge, the Two Tunnels, other unused infrastructures (particularly other old rail lines) and the Bath to Bristol Cycle route. It will require building numerous foot and cycle bridges to encourage active travel along the route.
Councils across the West of England have declared a Climate Emergency. These declarations and the understanding that 29% of total carbon emissions come from transport must lead B&NES Council to create a regional Vision to enable modal shift from the private vehicle and design new infrastructure that encourages people to walk and cycle. We will need to work in partnership with other local authorities and organisations along the route.
Over many years the use of roads to get people from A to B has been the standard default position. This has failed to recognise that many people would choose alternative forms of transport if well-designed infrastructure was in place allowing them to consider different routes or pathways. In addition, the‘Predict and Provide’ approach to planning policy builds in our dependency on car transport.
B&NES Council really wants to encourage people to move in more sustainable ways so that we can deliver:❖ better physical and mental health.❖ better social and emotional well-being.❖ improved air quality.❖ reduced noise pollution.❖ improved safety.❖ fewer road collisions.❖ better integration into nature.❖ better quality of public spaces.❖ improved environment for wildlife.
The LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan),under direction from WECA, has audited and identified issues and infrastructure improvements along tight DFT guidelinesacross the region. This has resulted in a Plan based on a few schemes with no overarching Vision to connect the schemes. To create a Vision across the region requires a new narrative that puts walking and cycling at the heart of transport improvement, rather than as an add-on.
From the start, the design should be able to accommodate new and evolving technologies, such as e-scooters, and be able to accommodate large numbers of users in a way that avoids conflict between the different modes of transport. It also needs to meet the requirements of people with diverse mobility needs, so that the route is available to everyone.
Enabling modal shift means we must change the way we look at the landscape. The geography of this region, particularly tothe East, is a valley floor (valley), with a river, canal, railway, on a flood plain surrounded by high hills (plateau).
This will be a new style of highway designed to accommodate both commuter and leisure users. Facilities such as seating, viewing spots, picnic spots, toilet stops and information posts connecting the path to local facilities will need to be part of the design from the start.
The First Stage
Connecting these spaces in an ambitious way, starting in the East of Bath, is the beginning of implementing this Vision.
The London Road and Warminster Road has, over the years,been the central route for many on the East to get to and from Bath city centre. However, consideration has rarely been given to local journeys: residents may want to get from Bathford to Larkhall shops, or school children at Bailbrook might need to get to and from Bathampton. The trajectory of destinations has often been designed through the view of a car windscreen and has failed to encourage walking and cycling across this landscape. More importantly the vision for new infrastructure to enable sustainable connectivity has not been considered or planned for.
B&NES Council is working on ambitious plans to create Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) and, with the outbreak of Covid-19, we must also consider the concept of “Public Health Corridors”, which could allow residents to maintain active travel alongside social distancing. It is clear that Covid-19 will be with us in the long term and will impact our lives in many uncertain ways. Therefore we have an even greater need for a bold Vision for walking and cycling.
A Master Plan to create a Better Place is required.
The London Road is one of Bath’s hotspots for high levels of air pollution. It also is a major route into and out of Bath for alltraffic, including HGV’s. Due to the width restrictions of this road, it has always been difficult to encourage walking and cycling in combination with other traffic. The East of Bath has an infrastructure deficit and therefore it is imperative that a new Vision is established.
This vision is to connect the valley floor with new pathways and bridges so that residents can traverse North to South as easily as East to West.
See the map below showing locations for possible new paths and bridges on this section of the People’s Highway.
We want to see a new emphasis on people travelling, both for work and leisure, in a new way, facilitated through Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and new infrastructure.
We want to see fewer car and bus journeys and more people walking, cycling and e-scootering more often in a safe environment
Important Stakeholders❖ B&NES Council❖ Parish and Town Councils❖ Residents’ Associations❖ The Meadows Alliance and other interest groups❖ The National Trust and English Heritage❖ WECA, Wiltshire Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Bristol City Council❖ Highways England (Severance Study on A36 in place, possible funding opportunities to link A46 to A36 to reduce traffic on the Highways)❖ Canal and River Trust❖ Ramblers Association❖ Sustrans❖ Bristol and Bath Parks