Pedestrianise Bristol!

Freedom To Ride, a manifesto by the Bristol Cycling Campaign, (sign the petition!) calls for a comprehensive cycling network across Bristol. As part of that, and to start a discussion, I’ve designed a plan that will pedestrianise Bristol’s Clifton Triangle.

Pedestrianise Bristol's Clifton Triangle

Currently there are many problems in the area when walking. It’s loud, unpleasant, with narrow crowded pavement and a wide road full of roaring traffic. When cycling it’s even worse, a junction only for the bold! Can you imagine a child cycling to school from Whiteladies Road all the way around to Jacob’s Well Road? A grandparent cycling from Park Row to the museum? There’s so many problems I made another map!

Existing problems with Bristol's Clifton Triangle

My aims were

  1. Pedestrianise the road from Victoria Rooms to Wills Memorial Building
  2. Modify the existing roads to necessitate a minimum of work so that it can be created and tested easily and cheaply, so if it doesn’t work it can be reversed.
  3. Improve overall traffic by creating decent cycling and pedestrian routes through a difficult and unpleasant part of Bristol.

I was inspired by a recent TED talk by Janette Sadik-Khan who describes how she pedestrianised Times Square in New York in a similar plan to mine. As you can see this was done cheaply and easily as a trial, using paint, bollards, and even folding garden chairs!

It’s motor vehicle junctions like the Triangle that cause congestion in Bristol. By bending over backwards to accommodate large volumes of vehicles through our living spaces it means alternatives are made unpleasant, inconvenient  and even unsafe, rather than real alternatives and part of an integrated solution. What does this mean? More cars. What causes traffic? Too many cars!

It’s been said that traffic in Bristol is on a knife edge, something I’ve witnessed when lorries block lanes in Queen’s avenue as the loading bays are full, and when recently Wessex Water undertook road works. These cause massive tailbacks, but what these road narrowings don’t do is allow for drivers to choose alternatives, instead the resulting traffic jams instead make it more unpleasant for cycling and walking, and the problems to public transport are evident. The primary cause of traffic still remains: too many cars!

So let’s tackle the problem, head on. Where a majority of space is given to motor traffic, share it out. Create places where people can walk and live, eat and shop. Meet the Bristol Cycling Manifesto’s demands and created a cycling network to a high standard, so all aged from 8 to 80 can cycle around the city.

We must stop making the flow of motor traffic Bristol’s the priority, but instead craft transport suit the needs of all it’s people, fairly.

If you agree, talk about it, tell your friends, ask the Bristol Cycle Campaign to fix a junction you know, and sign the petition. This post is the start of a new vision of a Bristol for people, your voice can make it happen. More plans will come, follow Bristol Cycling Campaign for news.



  1. “What causes traffic? Too many cars!”

    You must have missed in the increase in congestion since the new traffic lights were introduced at the top of Jacobs Wells Road then. All in the name of safety apparently and nothing to do with having some spare 106 money to spend. Strangely, when quizzed, George Ferguson couldn’t name one accident at the junction?

  2. A very poorly thought out idea. The result may be an improvement in the Clifton Triangle which I agree is horrid for everyone. But unless it considers the impact on other roads it is fairly useless. Will even more traffic start using the back streets of Redland? Will it mean that even more retail units on Whiteladies Road become cafes?
    Will Clifton become even more isolated especially if the Bridge tolls go up? Making approach to the BRI slower and more difficult? My point is that pretty suggestions are meaningless unless considered as part of a whole Bristol plan. Turn your mind to a whole Bristol plan for cyclists, cars, lorries etc. This scheme would then have its place.

  3. This looks great. It would make the triangle area a much better space. Although I imagine this would be at the detriment of other areas just outside of the this area where traffic would get blocked as they approached the triangle (due to reduced capacity), and would also cause other routes further away (Bridge Valley Road for example) to become more congested as more traffic is forced upon it.
    I think improving the triangle (as well as many other parts of Bristol) for pedestrians and cyclists is a great idea but it cant be looked at as a stand alone site since the volume of traffic currently using it will divert elsewhere onto other parts of the network already at saturation point.
    Bristol has a huge challenge to face in tackling congestion and poor conditions for pedestrians and cycles (as do most UK cities). The preference for car travel in the city needs to also be tackled by providing a number of other suitable options (not just cycling and walking which aren’t suitable for everyone) that need to include a good public transport network that is actually decent value for money for the user. Bristol’s public transport is, even by UK standards, poor and expensive. And at the same time as discouraging car use there also needs to be improvements to public transport to give everybody a realistic alternative.

  4. Nice Idea. My only problem with the triangle currently is cycling up from Jacob’s Wells Road and turning right, towards the two supermarkets. you have to feed across two lanes of traffic which have just turned a blind corner and are trying to find their lane, which is not that easy.

  5. I’ve been meaning to suggest something like this to the council for a while now – but this guy got there before me. It’s an absolute travesty that some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, namely the city museum and art gallery, the Wills tower, and the old university refectory are blighted by the thunderous roar of traffic on a dual carriageway tearing through the heart of a beautiful old Georgian part of Bristol. The pavement is ridiculously narrow, with the throngs of pedestrians hemmed in by railings so that the flow of traffic – apparently the most important thing in the universe according to the policy-makers – is in no way impeded. What is it with this city and dual carriageways??!! Dual carriageways, if they have to exist at all, belong in non-sensitive areas which are not densely populated, not in old Georgian suburbs. The city museum and the neighbouring buildings should have a setting of a great civic public space in front of them, so that they can be appreciated properly in peace, not a traffic circulation system. It says a lot about a city’s citizens when their main concern is not the pleasantness and liveability of its spaces or the ability to appreciate beautiful architecture but the flow of traffic!! Broaden your horizons! When will people learn that cities don’t exist so that people can drive through them? They exist as centres of population where people congregate to share ideas, create wealth and share experience for the greater good. We seemed to go very badly wrong somewhere during the late twentieth century by forgetting all of this and sacrificing it to the altar of the speeding motor car.

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