Pedestrianisation in Bristol
This month’s article is on pedestrianisation! We thought we would look deeper into changes to our high streets that we have seen more and more often.
Pedestrianisation is becoming more popular across the UK, it can be seen in many city and town centres. Especially since Covid-19 where many businesses used street space for additional seating. Creating businesses that sell or provide unique products and services may also become a cornerstone of high streets in the future, as talked about in an earlier article.
The beginnings of pedestrianisation in Bristol
Public consultation led to several of these temporary street closures that the government enacted earlier in the pandemic to become permanent. Many wanted cleaner air, more greenery, and less traffic, road closures can potentially solve all of these. Many among the public support at least some degree of road closure. However, support varies significantly depending on the area.
Bristol City Council ran an East Bristol liveable neighbourhoods pilot to determine what effects pedestrianisation could have in these areas of Bristol.
The East Bristol liveable neighbourhoods Project
The pilot is located in Barton Hill, parts of Redfield and St George, south of Church Road and north of the River Avon. It aims to reduce ‘rat-running’, speeding and to make the streets safer.
The pilot is currently in the analysis stage where the City Council is now analysing feedback and traffic counts gathered earlier in the year. This will determine what needs to change. The City Council has gathered similar feedback across Bristol with the intent to see how the public want to tackle issues pertaining to their local high streets. To get involved with or keep updated on the pilot, click here.
More broadly, the Liveable neighbourhoods projects want to create clean, green and safe places to be a part of the community. It also wants to improve the ability to catch a bus, walk or cycle, using improved infrastructure and less traffic. Suggested small scale improvements could be planting trees, providing more benches, community activity spaces, cross points and better lighting. The main issues people had with their high streets were: too much traffic, poor access for disabled people, narrow pavements, and lack of safe cycling routes.
Many wanted cleaner air, wider pavements, better access for disabled people, decreased traffic and better environments for cycling and walking.
Pedestrianisation in Practise
A study found improvements across the board to an improved high street. A main focus of this improvement was making pedestrians the priority. Pedestrian only areas, one way traffic, and raised crossings implying pedestrian priority were among the techniques used.
Bristol has already made moves towards pedestrianisation. The Council has already pedestrianised the Old City and a busy high street in Clifton. However, pedestrianisation has not been unopposed. In Thornbury, members of the public halted pedestrianisation plans. This was due to worries that business would decrease and traffic would just move elsewhere. People in the Old City expressed similar views too.
The pedestrianisation in the Old City also come with priority for walking, buses, cycling, and bays for disabled people. The results show that air pollution decreases, the buses are faster and more punctual with no significant impacts on other routes. However, there are still concerns that this just pushes traffic elsewhere.
Overall, pedestrianisation seems like it’s going to become more common place as time goes on. There will likely be increasing opposition, but if the results continue to show the benefits that many have already witnessed. Then maybe pedestrianisation will become a key point of future urban planning.
For more articles like this, go to our Articles page (or click here for our previous article), and also consider signing up to our Newsletter! We have also written other articles about Bristol on the Nightlife industry, Commercial development, The Hatchet, and Investing in Weston-Super-Mare!