Response to A4018 Proposals

A STATEMENT FROM THE WESTBURY SOCIETY PLANNING GROUP CONCERNING THE CITY COUNCIL’S CONSULTATION ON TRAFFIC ON THE A4018 – with particular reference to the proposed changes at the junction of Henbury Road/Hill with Falcondale Road and the installation of a new 24hour bus lane on the stretch of road between the Greystoke Avenue junction and the traffic lights at Henbury Road.
Overview in general
We are all acutely aware of the problems concerning the flow of traffic between Bristol city centre and the Mall at Cribbs Causeway. We are also sympathetic to those charged with any re-organisation for the future - in particular dealing with the inevitable increase of traffic between these points now that a huge housing estate is under construction to the north of Henbury and Brentry.

The A4018 was not designed to take the volume of traffic already using this arterial roadway and the dense nature of both retail and residential development on either side, as the route makes its way out of Bristol to the boundary with South Gloucestershire, precludes any radical modernisation - most particularly for rapid bus transport priority - short of removing all pedestrian pathways and even some buildings. Any changes therefore will of necessity be only a compromise and we believe that those in authority are totally mistaken in their aims and belief that this road can be made into a rapid transport bus route!

We are yet to hear of any effort being made to reduce the volume of incoming traffic by the placing of adequate ‘park and ride’ facilities in South Gloucestershire, beyond the boundary to Bristol; of a possible congestion charge to deter heavy commuter use on this route into the city, with its inevitable increase in air pollution; and most practical of all, an intention to re-open the rail lines to Temple Meads to provide the predictable and reliable transport that people will want. The needs of regular commuters employed in Bristol City will not be served by a few separated bus lanes giving those vehicles priority over cars!

Main concerns about the latest proposals for the Henbury Road/Hill junction with the A4018
A In light of the above comments, we can see no point in the introduction of one small piece of bus lane, unrelated to the traffic flows elsewhere along this route (and with some dangerous consequences that may arise at this cross road as a result); we think the problems can be ameliorated only by looking at the A4018 as a whole, taking account of ‘knock on’ effects of any changes that may be made, before they are implemented.

B We have particular concerns regarding the operation of the pedestrian crossing on the northern arm of the junction if the safety island is removed

C We are unable to understand why those making this proposal cannot foresee the inevitable traffic lane tailbacks that will result – 1 In the righthand lane for incoming traffic approaching Bristol on Falcondale Rd and waiting to move across into the main lane to Bristol at the Henbury Rd traffic lights and 2 The queue of incoming traffic forced to wait along Passage Rd approaching the Greystoke Ave junction, because the bus lane occupies the following stretch of road leading to the same lights at Henbury Rd.

Further comments related to:

A Introduction of a bus lane on the incoming stretch of Falcondale Road
The alterations to this junction and its islands are clearly being proposed because of the wish to introduce a priority bus lane and NOT because the pedestrian crossings need updating!
There is nothing wrong with the way in which the present lights system works for the safety of pedestrians except for a few slow intervals that can frustrate pedestrians and influence their crossing before a green light is shown for them.
Various comments have been made to the effect that this is change being introduced ‘by stealth’ and being ‘sneaked in’ under cover of a so called ‘improvement’ because of the wish to create a single lane that has priority for buses. As one member has stated – “Any changes/improvements to the A4018 must be considered as a whole scheme, not bits carried out here and there, which is tantamount to BCC getting what they want in an underhand way”.
The question of whether this is a real ‘improvement’ is also answered by the misgivings indicated for safety of pedestrians as a result of the removal of an island and the cramming of cars into one lane with only a short escape route into the main highway stream.

B Changes to the refuge islands
The proposal to remove the island on the Northern arm of Falcondale Rd is our chief concern. We believe that this will be detrimental to pedestrian safety.
The following comments are offered:
Observations indicate that the Northern Island is more frequently used than the Southern one. This crossing is used by parents taking children to the primary school and removal will serve to increase risks to them - especially for parents using pushchairs and also to the less mobile, elderly population.
If children and parents have to cross Henbury Hill first in order to use the Southern crossing they have to run to beat both lots of lights changes and may be tempted to do a diagonal crossover.
If they cross by the Southern Island, a further road crossing will be necessary on Henbury Road, in order to get to the primary school. (Some of us have long memories and know that the traffic lights and islands were introduced because a little girl coming home from the school, was killed at that junction, being thrown over a car bonnet when crossing the road, which resulted in a long campaign for a safe crossing.)
Islands both North and South of this junction are needed on this wide and very busy road; the traffic light phasing is safe at present and geared to the many children who use this route to the primary school.

Changes to the island on the Southern arm of Falcondale Road and the NO Right turn into Henbury Road for outgoing traffic approaching the junction
The elimination of a right turn into Westbury at this junction, for traffic coming out of Bristol is not regarded as a great inconvenience because people visiting the village can turn in at the main Canford Lane crossing, however-
Some residents living in Southdown Road and Hillsdon Road may find that having to exit into Henbury Hill in order to drive over to the village causes delays - but this is not thought to be a serious matter that cannot be borne by some who live there, although it has also been pointed out that cutting one line of access to the northern end of Westbury may be seen as detrimental to trade for retailers in the High Street and indeed access to their homes by that route, for the residents of Henbury Rd themselves, should not be overlooked.
However, one benefit from that change would be that the flow of traffic to the right turn at Greystoke Avenue, which is frequently used, will be improved, allowing the stream to Cribbs Causeway an uninterrupted flow along the left side.
It can be admitted that widening that Southern arm crossing would improve safety for pedestrians if they use it!

C The installation of a Bus Lane and restrictions to a right-hand centre lane for most incoming traffic
Quite the worst aspect of these proposals for alterations at this junction is the intrusion of a 24 hour bus lane from Greystoke Ave down to a few yards short of the Henbury Rid traffic lights.
All the current heavy stream of cars travelling from Cribbs Causeway to Bristol will be forced into the righthand centre lane until a few yards short of the traffic lights, when drivers will be permitted to change lanes in order to progress to the mainstream going into Bristol. This seems to be pure madness: Quote: another member of our group – “This location can be compared with others where two lanes of traffic are forced into one lane. The traffic then splits into two lanes at the approach to traffic lights, thus blocking the end of the bus lane. In this case, a few vehicles in lane 2 (right turn only) would prevent most of the through traffic from proceeding when the lights change.”
Not only will it create frustration and bad practice as drivers leave the centre lane to nip in front of the buses before the lights change, but it will also create a long tail back of cars with engines running, creating pollution as they wait for those turning right up Henbury Hill to complete their manoeuvre.
Furthermore, without an island on the Northern arm of Falcondale Road, pedestrians will be left very vulnerable to a mass of traffic waiting in the centre lane and in danger of one overlapping their space if the driver swerves when moving out of the centre lane into the bus lane at the end adjacent to the former island space. The prospect is of an accident there seems very likely.
A group member also makes this point: “It is also important to note that taxis use the bus lanes. There are further safety issues arising from the large number of vehicles changing lanes near the traffic lights-including the risk of collisions with taxis, due to the speed at which they travel”.
The “Transport Engagement” documents point out that buses are held up in traffic ‘which can queue past Greystoke Ave’ in the reason given for introducing a priority lane for buses - BUT if the main centre line of vehicles stretches back to Greystoke Avenue junction at peak times, the further back up queue beyond there on Passage Rd will stop buses from moving towards the bus lane!
All this chaos is proposed for a lane to serve an intermittent bus service that does not run for 24 hours anyway.

Further contributed points-
Idling engines produce fumes and pollution, so the fewer tail back queues the better.
This junction is surrounded by residential property-all close to the roadway and so particulates in the air will accumulate if there is congestion due to waiting traffic

As we did with the last tranche of A4018 proposals, thrust without much warning onto bewildered residents in Westbury and Henleaze, we wish to emphasize the need to look at traffic flows passing through all the junctions individually, as well as what can happen in combination with each other, before any changes and restrictions are made that will affect the lives and mobility of the many Westbury people who live both sides of the A4018.

We cannot say anything other than being totally opposed to this plan: there simply is not enough road room here to give so much space to intermittent bus services and disrupt what otherwise works quite well in keeping all the points of the compass and both sides of Westbury on Trym connected.

From H. Long Chairman on behalf of committee members and planning group for the Westbury Society