Plans fast tracked to pedestrianise large parts of Bristol city centre following the coronavirus pandemic

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Plans to pedestrianise a large part of Bristol city centre are being fast tracked in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of roads - including Corn Street, Small Street and Broad Street - could be shut to traffic under the measures.

The city council also wants to build wider pavements on a number of roads, including Stapleton Road and Bedminster Parade, so that pedestrians can continue to social distance.

Mayor Marvin Rees said the aim was to encourage more people to walk and cycle around the city, and cut traffic pollution.

He also pledged a number of measures to boost public transport around the city.

The proposed changes include:

  • Pedestrianising the Old City area of Bristol - by restricting vehicles during core business hours.

  • Introducing a bus priority route over Bristol Bridge and at the entrance to Baldwin Street - with the aim of creating more reliable bus journeys along with dedicated walking and cycling areas. Priority will be given to public transport, taxis, cycles and pedestrians travelling through the central area of Bristol. The route will be closed to general through-traffic.

  • New sustainable transport, walking and cycling upgrades in central areas - including Marlborough Street, Park Row, Victoria Street, Lewins Mead, Stokes Croft and the Clifton Triangle.

  • City-wide pavement widening for local shopping areas to enable social distancing - including Bedminster Parade, Stapleton Road, St Marks Road and Clifton Village.

  • Working with bus providers to ensure social distancing - ensuring key workers have priority on their journey to work.

  • Issuing new guidelines to taxi and private vehicles regarding cleaning and infection prevention measures.

A number of roads - including Corn Street, Small Street and Broad Street - could be shut to traffic under the measures.
The routes that could be pedestrianised are marked in blue. Credit: Bristol City Council

Mayor Marvin Rees said work on the Old City and Bristol Bridge proposals were already underway, but, "the coronavirus means we now need to accelerate the changes that will transform the way we travel in the city centre.

"For the future we need to ensure everyone has more travel options and these proposals are underpinned by the Bus Deal that we continue to progress, alongside our ongoing plans for mass transit."

He added: "The current situation is challenging our usual travel habits and behaviour in a way that we’ve never seen before. Many of us have already embraced more walking and cycling journeys and, whilst it is understandable bus usage has dropped, we want to protect the long-term viability of our public transport services because of their intrinsic value to communities across the city."

Bristol can emerge from this crisis in a more inclusive and sustainable way by improving access to public transport and introducing safer areas to walk and cycle. Action we take now will contribute to reducing air pollution, improving people movement for all Bristolians and encouraging alternative sustainable ways to travel.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol
Mayor Marvin Rees pledged a number of measures to boost public transport around the city.

Councillor Kye Dudd, the Cabinet Member for Transport, said the aim was to make "neighbourhoods more people-friendly" by "establishing more liveable streets with less traffic on local roads".

He added that he recognised the proposals would "require adjustment and behaviour change", but the council believed the "the long-term benefits for everyone in Bristol outweighs the inconvenience while we make this transition".

We’ve chosen specific locations for pavement widening and cycle infrastructure to help people social distance when they’re shopping locally. This is based on an initial assessment of options that will require ongoing input from local residents and councillors.

Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport

Many of the plans were previously drawn up out through the £400m infrastructure programme in Bristol’s element of the regional Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

Additional funding is expected from central government, which promised £250m for regions for specific Covid-19 interventions to enable safer walking and cycling.

Bristol City Council is exploring experimental traffic orders and will hold a consultation process before final decisions are made.

Over the next couple of weeks, Bristol City Council is expected to announce further timescales for delivering the changes.

Many schemes could move forward very quickly and will be implemented as soon as designs and plans are finalised. Bristol Bridge, Baldwin Street and the Old City plans are being drawn up using the fastest routes possible, meaning they could be delivered by late summer.