Upgrades planned for cycle path

UPGRADES are planned to improve the Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Staple Hill and Mangotsfield.

South Gloucestershire Council will launch a public consultation early in the coming year to ask people what improvements could be made to persuade them to use the path, particularly during the winter.

Council transport policy and project delivery manager Andy Whitehead told a meeting of the Staple Hill, Mangotsfield and New Cheltenham Community Engagement Forum that the project would cover the stretch of path the council is responsible for maintaining, between the Staple Hill tunnel and Bitton.

The council will be given money by the West of England Combined Authority to fund the improvement scheme, as part of efforts to make walking and cycling a more attractive way of travelling in the area.

A series of anti-social behaviour incidents on the path, dating back for years, have highlighted the need to make people feel safer when using the route.

Mr Whitehead told the meeting on November 29 that the council was “right at the start of the project”, so the exact area and type of improvements were still to be defined.

But one place likely to see improvements is the area around the former Mangotsfield Station, which is the junction of “several strategically important paths” linking Staple Hill, Mangotsfield, Emersons Green and Warmley.

A “longlist” of options for improvements includes new lighting, signs and CCTV coverage.

There will also be measures to ease “pinch points” where the path narrows, placing cyclists and pedestrians in potential conflict.

The council says it needs to make sure any physical improvements don’t adversely affect the area’s plants and wildlife.

Once the council has consulted and drawn up firm plans it then needs to make a planning application and a business case for funding from WECA.

A similar project on the Bristol stretch of the path started in 2019 and finished in 2023, with £1.1 million spent on improvements including widening and creating some segregated lanes on busy, narrow stretches of the path.

Council cabinet member for transport Chris Willmore said the “exciting” plans would “encourage year-round active and sustainable travel there, such as walking, cycling and wheeling”.

She added: “We currently see a big reduction in people using the Railway Path during the darker months, but we want it to be a viable transport option throughout the year, and a place where people feel safe.

“Although details of the project are yet to be defined, there are some key junctions which could benefit from improvements such as lighting and CCTV, or potentially widening existing pinch points to enable people to move more freely.

“However, no proposals have been agreed at this stage and we’ll be asking people for their ideas around how we can make improvements, so I encourage people to get involved.”

People can register to be notified when the consultation launches online, at consultations.southglos.gov.uk/system/register.