Park Street could become part-pedestrianised

July 30, 2009

Park Street and the Clifton Triangle could become partly-pedestrianised “shared space” under plans being considered by Bristol’s council bosses.

It would mean no form of transport having priority, with pedestrians and cyclists sharing the road equally with buses, cars and motorbikes.

A similar scheme operates in parts of Ashford in Kent; the forecourt of Temple Meads station is also largely shared.

Park Street: a shared space?

Park Street: a "shared space"?

Jon Rogers, the Lib Dem cabinet minister for transport, said: “If you have a shopping street like Park street, the idea of everybody going slowly down that street, all being careful of each other, has some attractions.

“A lot of the time, cars don’t travel more than 10-15mph round the city anyway. Journeys tend to be stop start and people don’t make much progress.

“If we could do away with all the traffic lights in that area and people just made a gentle and careful way through those areas, you may find the time it takes to get between the Victoria Rooms down to the St James Barton roundabout might be less than it currently is.”

But the idea has already come under fire from Conservative leader Richard Eddy. He told Jones The News: “All too often, as with Prince Street, we’ve seen the Lib Dems default position has been to make life even more difficult for those trying to work and shop in Bristol.

“We are not a city that can afford to take this heavy-handed approach to the motorist, particularly in recession.

“The Lib Dem administration seems to be making life much easier for cyclists, and that’s something I support, but not at the expense of every other road user.”

The report to be considered by the council cabinet on Thursday afternoon claims the idea would “truly reflect [Bristol’s] Cycle City aspirations.”

The Park Street plan, along with other proposals for improvements to roads around the Colston Hall and East Street in Bedminster are being considered because money will shortly be available for infrastructure projects from the Department for Transport.

Council bosses are also considering building a new pedestrian bridge betwen the end of King Street and Redcliffe Street, to use money given by property developers.



  1. I can assure Richard Eddy that I have no interest in having a “heavy-handed approach to the motorist”.

    What I want to do is to get people thinking about what is possible, what might be better and involve the people of Bristol in the future of Bristol.

    It is right that we should look at what is done elsewhere. Other shopping streets that might benefit are Penn Street and Horsefair, or Mina Road in St Werburghs. I am sure your readers and listeners could suggest others!

    I am also aware that “share space” can be frightening for those with disability, particularly if blind or deaf.

    We need to look at all aspects, but as a city I believe we should be innovative and outward looking not just live in the past.


  2. “cars don’t travel more than 10-15mph round the city anyway”.

    Absolutely right. So, just bring the speed limit in the city centre down to 15 or 20mph and this will give cyclists more confidence and ability to negotiate the traffic.

    Everything else will follow. A much cheaper way to become a true cycling city than building “new” infrastructure that makes little difference.

  3. I am afraid Cllr Eddy’s comments appear to be almost a Pavlovian reaction to any initiative that might in any way be perceived as impacting upon the mobility of people in their cars in order to make life more bearable for people out of their cars. Doesn’t he realise that even Conservative voters sometimes have to walk?

    We have now had several decades in this city where the priority and treatment given to roads has been based almost entirely on their usefulness for commuting and almost nobody in Bristol is happy with the result – the long-term experiment has failed and now is the time to re-adjust our priorities and start to look at assessing the usefulness of roads based on their use by pedestrians, in this example for shopping. It was not on a whim that Cabot Circus was designed with pedestrian-only streets – cars don’t shop, people do, and people tend to enjoy their shopping more when they are not hemmed in by potentially dangerous motor vehicles.

    It is no coincidence that the most economically successful cities in Europe are those that have redesigned themselves to provide a better balance between the motorist and the pedestrian (not forgetting cyclists and public transport users). If Bristol is going to compete as an economically successful city, it needs progressive ideas based on objective benchmarking not knee-jerk “won’t work here” reactions based on outdated ideology.

  4. I like the idea, but I think a steep hill might be the wrong place to try it (I know the Triangle isn’t a steep hill – my comments here refer to Park Street only). Cars often accelerate hard to get up a hill, cars and cyclists often don’t brake as much as they should coming down. By all means let’s have lower speed limits and traffic calming to slow the cars down and make Park Street more pedestrian-friendly, but this scheme sounds like it will use pedestrians to slow the traffic down.

    Better perhaps to try this scheme in other areas, like The Centre or Baldwin Street or The Triangle before trying it on hills like Park Street (or Union Street)?

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