Regular traffic could be banned from travelling eastbound alongside the River Avon near Bristol City Centre, under proposals launched formally by Bristol City Council.
The council has issued a traffic order to create a new bus gate on the eastbound side of the road at Cumberland Road, close to the Gas Ferry Road turning up to the SS Great Britain.
But some residents living on Spike Island and at the Redcliffe end around Bathurst Basin are objecting to the proposals, as the consultation period for the scheme ended on Friday (December 23).
The plan would see a virtual ‘gate’ on the eastbound side of Cumberland Basin, just east of Gas Ferry Road, through which only buses, taxis and cyclists would be allowed to drive.
It would effectively split Cumberland Road into two, with people living in the homes to the west having to travel west to the Cumberland Basin to leave Spike Island, and people living in the homes to the east, at the Bathurst Basin, Wapping Wharf and around the General Hospital, having to get home via Bedminster Bridge.
But the main aim of the bus gate would be to stop Cumberland Road being used as a main road into the city centre for commuter traffic from North Somerset. The city council said it wants to clear the road of commuter traffic to allow the buses which run along that road a more congestion-free route. “It will provide a proactive benefit to public transport in this section and would fill a gap in Bus Priority between the Guideway and the Bus Lanes on Redcliffe Hill and ensure timely delivery of passengers into the city centre. Thus, making public transport a more attractive option for private vehicle drivers that may be affected by the upcoming implementation of the Clean Air Zone,” the council’s ‘statement of reasons’ on the traffic order states.
At the moment there are already traffic restrictions on Cumberland Road because of the long-standing works to repair the New Cut river embankment, which collapsed in 2020. That is due to be finished and the road and the Chocolate Path fully reopened in early 2023, but the council’s proposal is for that eastbound restriction to be made permanent.
When the plans were first proposed back in July, the reaction from Bristol Live readers was mixed, to say the least, with some drivers branding the idea ‘crazy’. It is not yet known the level of response to the formal consultation period into the bus gate plan, which began on December 1 and ended today, December 23, but the council will make a decision on the idea in the New Year.
Bristol’s Civic Society has already stated its opposition to the plan, pointing out that there are alternatives to make it easier for buses on Cumberland Road, and pointing out that it is only the m2 Metrobus that drives back and forth along the river there anyway.
“We support the policy of prioritizing public transport, but in this location, unless evidence of bus delays can be provided, it feels difficult to argue for a bus gate at this time,” said Alan Morris, from the Civic Society. “We have proposed an alternative measure which may help free bus flows. The strategic case for restricting private vehicles here is not overwhelming; and the evidence that air pollution will improve as a result of the proposed scheme is not clear,” he added.