Pill Path to Central Bristol

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Pill Path to Central Bristol

This has come in by email from a fellow ambassador. Anyone from North Somerset/Bristol please feel to advise....

I am a cycle commuter.  I travel from the village of Pill into central Bristol every working day (last time I drove a car to work was about six weeks ago).

If you don't want to travel actually on the A369 - which is a main commuter route, speed limits at 40-50 mph - then you must cycle on the footpaths until you join the "official" shared-use path (in eighteen months of doing this I have met pedestrians on those footpaths twice) and then follow the shared-use path up to Bridge Road, when you can filter past the traffic queues for the Clifton Suspension Bridge and stay on the roads down through to the other side of Bristol city centre.  There are other routes, of course - you can use the Pill Path, or you can cross the Avonmouth Bridge and go through Shirehampton and then along the shared-use path alongside the A4 Portway.

It was announced in my local parish newspaper by "Sustainable Pill and District" (SPAD) that North Somerset council had secured funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and that part of that was to improve the cycle routes between Portishead, Portbury Dock, Pill and Bristol.  My councillor informed me that their previous work demonstrated that "between Pill and Bristol, this will make most sense by providing a continuous off-carriageway route between the junction of Pill Road / A369, alongside the A369 to North Rd (for Clifton Suspension Bridge) and continuing on to the Ashton Court top entrance, for a link through to Ashton and South Bristol."

The councillor at North Somerset who heads the SPAD group and with whom I have corresponded is Don Davies
 I have had some email correspondence with him to try and find out what is proposed, and although friendly and helpful I don't think they have anything actually planned as yet.

(Apparently, there will also be a "market led" commuter route / extension to the Greater Bristol Bus Network route between Portishead and Bristol - but Bristol's buses are First Group so I don't imagine anyone's holding out much hope for that).

Apparently they are appointing new members of staff to deliver the project and "in due course" the proposals for the cycle route will be opened to public consultation.

My understanding is that the proposed improvements will be separate to the Pill Path which goes along the riverside.  Anecdotally, I understand some people find the Pill Path to be too narrow, too muddy, and too isolated (and recreational cyclists can feel a little intimidated at times by the full-suspension mountain bikers hurtling
along there at speed).

So you can see the route on Google Maps, the off-road route alongside the A369 goes from the junction of Pill Road and Haberfield Hill, along the side of the A369 up to the start of the shared-use cycle path at Manor Road in Abbots Leigh (by the George Inn).

There are footpaths along all of that.  From Blackmoor Road to opposite Sandy Lane (on the left hand side of the A369, travelling east toward Bristol) is standard tarmacced footpath, about three feet
wide, behind a large hedge.

You then have to cross the main road, via a pedestrian refuge.  In rush hour, when I travel, this takes some time as traffic along the A369 is pretty heavy.

From Sandy Lane up the hill to Harris Lane (on the right hand side of the A369) the footpath is maybe two feet wide, potholed, very uneven and with lots of overgrown eye-level brambles and branches.

From Harris Lane to the George Inn is back to a decent (if narrow) tarmacced footpath.

The "official" shared-use path from the George Inn all the way to Bridge Road in Leigh Woods (the B3169, which goes to the clifton Suspension Bridge) is a passable path although there are a few busy entrances/exits as the path passes the Clifton Sports Centre and the Bristol & Bath Tennis Club.  The only real hazards on that section
other than the entrances/exits are joggers plugged into iPods and the occasional broken bottle, plus the inconvenience of having to wait forever at the traffic lights at the junction of Beggar Bush Lane and
the A369 (the pedestrian/cyclists section of the lights cycle is way down the list of priorities after getting all of the cars through).

The problems I see are that there isn't any real estate other than hedges that the council can grab to make the existing footpaths any wider, and I really can't see them grabbing land from the A369.  But it would be a real shame if all that they do is put up blue "shared-use" signs and rename the existing footpaths as shared-use
paths without doing anything else.

Unfortunately, North Somerset council isn't the friendliest of local authorities (google the recent sayings of councillor Elfan ap Rees).

Nelson Longflap

It may not solve the isolation problem, but there's already a perfectly good cycle route from the entrance to the business park / garden centre on the A369 through Leigh Woods to North Road or down to the riverside cycle path. It's perhaps a little hillier than the A369 itself, but not a great deal.


Wonder if the council are trying to tag it onto the railway line ... 20 years ago and this could have been a Bristolian Camel trail but it's now a strategic freight route and potentially going to be reopened to passengers!


pete owens

IF they want to build a proper cycle path then they will need use compulsory purchase orders to buy a strip of land to build it on - just like they would if they wanted build a road. There is no way that you could fit one within the existing highway boundaries. And if they need to buy a strip of land there is no particular need for it to follow the line of the A road.

However, given that they seem to be under the delusion that all that is needed to create a cycle route is to stick blue signs on the narrow pavement going East from the George Inn, then you can anticipate that all this new route will consist of is a few more blue signs on the narrow paths described, plus some marginal widening by tarmacing the verges.

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