4 October: Pip Sheard from the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance writes about better ways to improve transport in Bristol.
A local resident told me that a stretch of green space laid aside for a South Bristol Ring Road has been there since the 1930s when it was on the edge of the city. Since then houses have been built all around it and the city has expanded further southwards to the slopes of the Dundry Hills.
This 5km road - originally planned as a bypass - will now run chiefly through agricultural fields in Bristol’s greenbelt, across brooks, hedges, footpaths and across Highridge Common. Then down a suburban street and through the 1930s green space. which now has housing on both sides.
I joined the campaign against the South Bristol Ring road in 2006, then one of 11 roads proposed by consultants in the Greater Bristol Strategic transport study.
Stage 3 of the road was defeated by public opposition in 2008, stages 1 and 2 were renamed ‘the South Bristol Link’ and a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was added.
The BRT pictured in leaflets as segregated, guided and ‘tram-like’ has, through cost cutting, become an infrequent and uneconomic bendy bus running on a single carriageway road.
The public prefer improved public transport to new road building and Greenbelt is valuable to local people. Four BRT proposals through local green space in Bristol were dropped after local opposition. There is a long standing public desire in Bristol to have trams and to improve our undeveloped local rail network.
I have been involved in local lobbying for rail and ultra light tram alternatives to BRT. Our group put forward the reopening of the Portishead rail line as an alternative to the South Bristol Link. We have been told ‘it is too late to change, too expensive, the Department for Transport wouldn’t agree to us changing now, we can’t risk losing the money, there is no alternative’.
So we are now saddled with a Labour Government BRT under a Conservative Coalition that likes rail and wants trams. And a new road.
A guest blog by Pip Sheard, a local resident who is a member of Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance www.tfgb.org.uk which is co-ordinating a public postcard campaign against the road.