‘Car-centric approach takes us back to the 1960s’

GREEN councillors have accused Bristol’s Labour leadership of “car-centric” policies following a failure to act on concerns about the diversion for cyclists using Concorde Way. 

After safety fears were raised in March, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees promised to take a second look at the diversion via  Boiling Wells Lane and Muller Road, which is in place for a year while a new train station is built in Ashley Down. 

However, he has since told local councillors that no changes will be made.

Green Councillor David Wilcox, co-shadow cabinet member for transport and active travel, said: “The diversion of the Concorde Way is not fit for purpose. It brings pedestrians and cyclists into conflict on a shared pavement, and through Boiling Wells cyclists must dismount because it’s so steep.

“If we’re going to reduce traffic and tackle the climate emergency, we need to be making it easier, not harder, for people to walk and cycle to work. This diversion — which is expected to be in place until at least next March — undermines the council’s own policy aims and will only encourage more people to drive, causing more pollution and congestion for all of us.”

Green group leader Cllr Emma Edwards added: “The failure to address this dangerous diversion for Concorde Way is part of a worrying trend we have seen of late, with this Labour administration not only not improving things for cycling in Bristol, but in many instances actively making things worse.

“Far too many decisions by Bristol Labour — whether it’s removing cycle lanes, projects that don’t meet official standards, or simply dragging their heels on basics like new bike hangars — seem calculated to show contempt for cycling and walking. Labour’s car-centric approach belongs in the 1960s — it’s getting us nowhere fast.

“With our buses in a state of near-collapse, and constant steps backwards on active travel, it’s not surprising that Bristol is consistently one of the worst UK cities for traffic under this administration. Our city deserves better.”

Greens also criticised long delays to a new cycle lane on Nelson Street in the city centre; removal of a bike lane on Cheltenham Road near Stokes Croft; poor maintenance of existing cycle lanes; pavement parking blocking cycle lanes blocking key routes like Gloucester Road and Park Row; and bike storage hangars being rolled out only at some council flats.

But Labour hit back at the criticism and pointed to many new projects where the council is investing in cycling. These include building new segregated cycle lanes along Victoria Street and Temple Way, two key city centre routes, as well as expanding its

School Streets programme, providing more bike hangars and reducing pollution through the Clean Air Zone.

Labour Cllr Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport, said: “A section of Concorde Way had to be temporarily closed due to the construction of the new Ashley Down train station. We appreciate that this closure is inconvenient and thank everyone for bearing with us.

“With Portway station close to opening, Ashley Down station will be only Bristol’s second train station constructed in nearly a century and will provide a valuable new transport option for local residents, so I am certain that any inconvenience will be worth it. “We have a proud record of delivery but there is, of course, much more to do. Only last month, the government cut active travel capital funding for councils for the next two years by two thirds. If Green councillors want increased spending on active travel schemes, they need Labour in government.”

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service