Working with Sustrans, three local authorities in the south west have launched a new initiative to tackle the conflict that can arise between different users of shared paths.
‘One Path’ was launched on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path (BBRP), which is managed by Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council.
There are approximately four million trips per year on the 13-mile long BBRP, making it one of the busiest dedicated traffic-free routes in the UK.
Piloted in Northern Ireland in 2016, One Path is an ‘alternative to physical change’, focusing on people and behaviour with the key message of ‘Share, Respect and Enjoy’.
One Path aims to engage with users and listen to their concerns, analyse the issues, and collaborate with local authorities and community groups to find potential solutions.
Interviews with BBRP will be undertaken over the next few weeks at various points on the Bristol section where most issues have arisen in the past.
Cllr Mhairi Threlfall, cabinet member for transport and connectivity at Bristol City Council, said: “We are making improvements to Bristol’s physical infrastructure with upgrades to walkways and cycle routes, but this is only one part of creating a well-connected, efficient network.
“Conflict between pedestrians and cyclists is a growing challenge as more people choose to travel short journeys sustainably, by foot or bike, and we are concerned about anything which could disrupt or dissuade people from continuing these journeys.
“This has been no more evident than on the popular Bristol to Bath Railway Path, and we want to work with local people, path users and non-path users alike, to identify how we alleviate pinch points and problem areas so we can all travel together in harmony.”
James Cleeton, Sustrans England director south, said: “At peak times the path is very congested and users can experience increased levels of conflict.
“This is damaging its value to the communities it serves because the least confident and most vulnerable users are dissuaded from using it. We have instigated the One Path Initiative to ensure that its value to people and the localities it serves is enhanced and protected for generations to come.
“We are committed to a BBRP that is a community space for everyone – a park, path and place for all, by foot or by wheel, enabling healthy lifestyles in a green and biodiverse corridor linking the two cities and communities across the West of England.”
Earlier this week, the Government launched a new consultation to look at whether a new offence equivalent to causing death by careless or dangerous driving should be introduced for dangerous cyclists.
This follows the case of cyclist Charlie Alliston who knocked over and killed a female pedestrian, Kim Briggs. Mr Alliston – whose fixed gear bike had no front brakes – was cleared of manslaughter but convicted under the 19th century offence of ‘wanton or furious driving’.