A controversial temporary one-way traffic scheme at Parkway railway bridge that is intended to facilitate easier social distancing for pedestrians and cyclists is to be reviewed in mid-September.
The news comes after one local councillor said the scheme “doesn’t appear to be serving its [intended] purpose” and a local resident started a petition calling for it to be scrapped because of the traffic congestion it is causing at some times of the day.
The scheme, which was introduced in mid-June for an initial two-week trial period, has seen barriers used to reduce the road space under the bridge to a single lane, controlled by temporary traffic signals. The extra space created either side of the traffic lane is available for people walking or cycling under the bridge, allowing them to keep a safe distance from each other.
Reactions to the scheme on social media have generally been negative, with many people claiming it is unnecessary or provides little benefit because of the low volume of pedestrians passing under the bridge at present. Some opponents have suggested introducing a one-way system on the footways on each side of the bridge, while others say pedestrians should “just use common sense” to avoid getting too close to each other.
Even those in favour of the scheme have complained that it is difficult for bike, buggy and wheelchair users to utilise the extra space because of the need to negotiate the high kerb between the regular footway and the reclaimed road space.
Stoke Gifford resident Adrian Kerton, who has started the petition to scrap the scheme, says he is concerned that the traffic jams it is causing could impede emergency service vehicles attending incidents in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and parts of Bradley Stoke, particularly as one of the alternative routes, along Gipsy Patch Lane, is closed at present.
South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) says the scheme is being well used with 300 pedestrians and 180 cyclists using the space during 2.5 hours of monitoring on a Tuesday in June. But Mr Kerton says data he has obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows that the monitoring was actually done over a 5-hour period and recorded everybody passing under the bridge, irrespective of whether they made use of the extra space or not. In fact, on the day in question, his interpretation of the data is that none of the 480 people used the extra space, while on other days it is typically just eight pedestrians an hour.
A council spokesperson said:
“When we monitor, we record everyone using the space. The extra space created by the measures is to support social distancing so members of the public feel safe to walk under the bridge without getting too close to each other.”
Responding to concerns about traffic congestion caused by the scheme, the spokesperson said:
“Our monitoring of the surrounding road network has indicated that the impact on traffic has been minimal.”
Asked about the process for determining whether the measures should remain in place, the spokesperson added:
“The scheme is regularly reviewed with the next review having been agreed as mid-September once all children have returned to school and more people return to work.”
• Mr Kerton’s petition is hosted on the SGC ePetitions website at https://bit.ly/pwb-petition
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 22). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Update: Online survey
Added: Sunday 6th September 2020
Since the above article was written, Mr Kerton has informed the Journal that SGC has now launched an online survey to gauge public opinion about the Parkway Bridge scheme. Replies are required by 1st October 2020, suggesting that a decision on the scheme’s future is now unlikely to be made in mid-September.