The council is currently consulting on transport improvements to Muller Road and surrounding streets.
Muller Road is a busy transport route, an important bus route and is also used by large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists, including school children. More than 1,000 houses are planned in Lockleaze in the next few years, and Muller Road is already a congested route for most of the day, impacting on bus relability and pollution levels. This, along with a new school, two new supermarkets, and the on-going population increase of Bristol, means the council has decided to take action.
The proposals are quite extensive and can be viewed online here: www.travelwest.info/mullerroad
Hurry! The consultation closes on Sunday 7th April!
As your local ward councillor, I’ve been thinking hard about the proposals. I think there’s some good plans but other aspects need to be looked at again, chiefly Springfield Avenue. You can read my whole response to the consultation below:
It’s widely agreed in the local area that transport on Muller Road needs improvement, so I welcome the council investing in the route to improve sustainable transport links, reduce congestion and tackle air pollution.
As with any major scheme such as this there is a level of compromise. In an ideal world there would be segregated cycle routes all along the road, ultra-wide pavements, 24-hour bus lanes throughout, plenty of parking spaces and no rat-running. But in the real world, compromise will always be needed to make improvements that work together in the best way.
To that end I am broadly supportive of the proposals within and near to Bishopston & Ashley Down ward, especially measures designed to improve sustainable transport options such as upgrading bus stops and better pedestrian routes. However, there are some aspects that deserve further comment.
Gloucester Road to Downend Road
Extending double yellow lines at the junction with Gloucester Road is good to help improve traffic flows.
The use of an advisory cycle lane here is not ideal for cyclist safety, but I understand why a compromise has been made to avoid a loss of parking that would be unacceptable to residents on Muller Road. I would cautiously accept this argument but would equally suggest that a more beneficial, albeit more controversial, option would be to implement a mandatory cycle lane.
Downend Road to the railway bridge
If one examines the bus reliability data for Muller Road, the benefit of implementing the 24-hour bus lane is immediately apparent. The time that buses lose backed up in traffic reduces reliability and prevents more people from making the modal shift onto public transport. Furthermore, as with any bus lane, cyclists will be able to use it giving them a wide, safe space in which to cycle. The benefit of the bus lane is multiplied by the addition of the bus gate, which will allow buses to skip the queue at the Ralph Road junction, again improving journey times.
Whilst I can understand that implementing a 24-hour bus lane along this section, with the associated loss of on-street parking, poses an issue to some residents, most houses have driveways meaning that they already have the space to accommodate their vehicles.
DYLs are also proposed for junctions to improve safety and visibility. I support this measure, and given the concentration within this project on improving safety at key locations, I would like to suggest that the following are added:
Firstly, DYLs on the end of Bedford Crescent. This road is the only street off Downend Road with no DYLs on its junction with Downend Rd, resulting in unsafe parking practices that could be avoided.
Secondly, DYLs on one side of the road at the thinnest part of Ralph Road (outside numbers 2-8). Due to cars marked on both sides the road becomes very narrow here. Not only would this increase safety but it would also improve bus reliability, as the issue causes congestion and makes it difficult for buses to get through.
Finally, and regardless of whether the Springfield Ave proposals go ahead unaltered or not (see below), I think DYLs should be considered for all junctions of Springfield Ave with adjacent streets to increase visibility and thus safety.
The addition of pedestrian crossings on the Ralph Road junction has been something that residents have long called for. Vehicles can travel quite fast, and visibility at the junction is less than ideal. The crossings are welcome to improve safety and the pedestrian environment, and will also help people to avoid using their cars to access the Lidl, Aldi and Home Bargains stores.
The path between Draycott Road and the bus stop is a nice addition, as is the use of a sustainable drainage system.
Keep clear markings for the Lidl entrance are a good addition and I would suggest that these are also added to Petherbridge Way for the same reason.
I would have liked to see some improvement to Concorde Way within these proposals, but I understand that this is being moved forward as a separate project, which I hope will come to fruition very soon.
Springfield Ave, Brent Road and adjacent streets
I welcome the attempt to solve the issue of unsafe driving along Springfield Avenue, Queen’s Road, and Draycott Road, however I am concerned that the current proposals for this section will not solve the problem. This area, including Brent Road, Bromley Road and Uphill Road, is a generally residential area characterised by narrow streets. It should also be noted that Ashley Down School is also very close by.
The closure of Springfield Ave will not prevent people from using this area as a rat run. Instead it will push the vehicles onto Brent, Bromley and Draycott Roads. It will also not greatly reduce the likelihood of accidents at the Queen’s/Draycott/Springfield junction as traffic will still be passing through there. Indeed, drivers may feel emboldened to speed up if they are given right of way downhill on Queen’s Road. Furthermore, vehicles wishing to travel from Muller Road to Ashley Down Road will simply be displaced to Bromley Road.
Similarly, funnelling traffic through Brent Road will result in decreased safety there, and probably an increase in accidents. This would particularly be a problem at the western corner where Brent Road turns sharply, and would also pose an issue for vehicles exiting Brent Road onto Springfield Ave, who would be turning against vehicles coming the other way. It would additionally be a problem for pedestrians given the pavement on Brent Road is non-continuous.
The proposal to introduce a waiting bay on Brent Road for the Muller Road shops is welcome in principle, but I worry it will reduce safety (given the heavy use the narrow Brent Road would be getting) and increase congestion/pollution (due to vehicles making circuitous routes to re-join Muller Road).
Furthermore, as noted above, the changes will not reduce the use of Springfield Ave as a rat run as all traffic rat-running from the north west (i.e. cutting out the Muller Road/Downend Road and Muller Road/Gloucester Road junctions) will still be seeking to use Springfield Ave, will then turn onto Draycott and, in doing so, will come into conflict with traffic coming down Queen’s Road (see above). Similarly, traffic travelling north west from Muller Road via Brent Road will result in increased accidents and decreased safety further up Springfield Ave.
Permitting exit from Draycott from either direction on Muller Road will likewise fail to address the rat-running issue. Given the extremely sharp angle drivers need to turn to turn right from Draycott, this would cause a safety issue as well as a rat-running one. Were turnings to be restricted to be left turn only, this could help to limit rat-running as it would dramatically reduce the desirability of using this route for rat-running traffic travelling south. Such a measure would clearly inconvenience local residents so consultation with them should be undertaken if this is seriously considered.
A similar argument could be made for limiting turns onto Brent Road. In addition, traffic seeking to turn right off of Muller Road into Brent Road is likely to cause queuing along Muller Road, which is something this whole scheme is trying to reduce.
Another change to the proposals could be to make Brent Road and the stretch of Bromley Road between Brent and Springfield one way. As the proposals stand, the heavy increase in traffic on Brent Road will be flowing predominantly in one direction, increasing the possibility of stand-offs and decreasing safety. Making the streets one way (possibly with a contraflow using Uphill Rd) could help to alleviate this problem. As above though, it would introduce a large impact on local residents and so should only be developed further with them. This suggestion could also increase speeds and rat-running so should be considered carefully.
Other changes to the scheme could include, for example, making Draycott and Brent roads both one way out with a left turn only, which would dramatically reduce the desirability of using the area as a rat-run. Closure of the Draycott and Brent junctions with Muller Road could also be considered.
In addition, diagonal closure of the Springfield/Queen’s/Draycott junction in a north-south direction, rather than closing the end of Springfield, could be a way of allowing permeability for residents (via Queen’s and Springfield) whilst cutting off rat-running completely and allowing much more space for people to temporarily park to visit the shops (on Draycott and the cut-off section of Springfield).
Finally, Traffic calming could also be added to the streets, for instance DYLs on corners, speed cushions/tables, raised tables at junctions or chicanes.
As above, close consultation with residents would be required to understand their views and appetite for any of these alternatives/modifications.
Railway bridge to Dormer Road
From Concorde Way onwards the pavement on one side of the road becomes shared use. Generally, and in line with best practice, shared use paths should be avoided where possible (with segregated paths being preferred). I appreciate however that this is a constrained stretch of road with private property on either side that precludes anything more than two lanes of road and two pavements. I would therefore request that there is sufficient signage on this stretch to make both pedestrians and cyclists aware that it is a shared use path and to encourage them to behave appropriately.
Further along, moving the path away from the road into Fairfield’s grounds not only greatly assists with creating space in the road for more lanes of traffic, and importantly the 24-hour bus lane, but it also creates a much better cycling and walking environment. I assume any trees removed as part of this will be replaced as per the Bristol Tree Replacement Standard.
This path will particularly help students at Fairfield School, especially with regards to safety. This will also be helped by the other proposed measures such as guard rails and the new crossing at the top of the hill.
Whilst I am broadly supportive of other measures from this point onwards, especially the peak hours bus lane on Shaldon Road and the 24-hour bus lane on Muller Road itself, the area is well away from my ward and so I will defer to my neighbouring councillors’ opinions.
Dormer Road to M32 roundabout
Whilst I am broadly supportive of other measures from this point onwards, especially the 24-hour bus lane, the area is well away from my ward and so I will defer to my neighbouring councillors’ opinions.
Whilst it is important to take into account the views and lived experiences of people in the areas impacted by this proposal, I believe it is equally important to take into account the needs of those who do not yet live here, namely the inhabitants of the thousands of homes planned in Lockleaze. When making decisions it is important to take into account all residents, both existing and future. That may require compromise on the part of existing residents for common benefit.
The proposals are intended to improve traffic flows, bus reliability, and the cyclist and pedestrian environment. Suggested tweaks notwithstanding, I believe the proposals will be to the benefit of all residents.