By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter / email@example.com
Bristol City Council is carrying out an investigation after it “forgot” to build a bus lane on a busy bridge in Redcliffe.
The council completed £129,000 of alterations to Redcliffe Bridge earlier this year, reducing the four traffic lanes to three and installing a two way-cycle path. But the finished work was not the same as the plans that had been consulted on.
One of the main differences was that the plan had included a proposed bus lane. This came as a great surprise to bus operators First, which runs the 76 Hengrove service over the bridge.
It will also cause problems if the Bus Rapid Transit schemes are approved for funding in December, as the bus lane was needed for the city centre route.
The council also removed a pedestrian crossing on Welsh Back near the Hole in Wall pub as part of the alterations. It was replaced with a raised surface that was intended to make it easier for cyclists to cross but there is little warning for drivers heading towards the roundabout.
The council has now confirmed that an internal review is being carried out into how the scheme was developed and constructed.
But the authority is not guaranteeing that any changes to the completed scheme will actually be made, despite admitting it has “not met the aspirations of all users, particularly the bus operators”.
The scheme was one of eight sets of cycling improvements along the so-called Brunel Mile, route which runs from Temple Meads to the ss Great Britain, carried out through the £22 million Cycling City project.
The authority says it decided to make the alterations because while car use on the route has fallen in the last 14 years, cycling use has increased. Since 1997, the number of cars using the bridge had dropped by 46 per cent between 7am and 7pm, compared to a 38 per cent increase in pedestrians and a 289 rise in cyclists.
Council spokeswoman Kate Hartas said: “The scheme introduced has not met the aspirations of all users, particularly the bus operators. We are looking at the best options to meet the needs of all users now that the scheme has been operating for some months.
“No decisions have yet been taken on whether or not to make any changes or enhancements to the scheme introduced.
“Firstly we need to undertake traffic counts to determine the level of usage and these will take place once traffic levels have stabilised following the school holidays.
As such it is not possible to cost any works at this stage.
“Our top priority is to focus on identifying if changes are needed.
“The scheme has however been welcomed by cyclists who consider that the new design has made their passage along the Brunel Mile both easier and safer.
“The previous zebra crossing was not well placed as it was not on the desired line for users of the Brunel mile.
“Thus many pedestrians chose to ignore it, crossing instead at the point where the new raised facility is situated.
“This type of priority give-way crossing is unusual but it gives cyclists and pedestrians the ability to follow their desired line without interruption.
“We have ensured that drivers approaching the give-way line have good visibility in both directions and can stop safely for cyclists or pedestrians. These crossings operate elsewhere in the country very successfully and we have been monitoring the way it works in this location and are satisfied with it thus far.”