The Bristol Beast

2009-09-01, Comments

On his excellent Green Bristol blog, erstwhile cycle campaigner Chris Hutt identifies a problem:

As we all know only too well the hilliness of Bristol is a deterrent to cycling, especially for those considering cycling for commuting or utility purposes where getting from A to B sometimes means being confronted with quite a climb, around 30 metres at a gradient of 1 in 10 (10%) just to get up Park Street for example.

and proposes a radical solution:

I’m suggesting a new lift of the external variety attached to the structure on the south west elevation of the multi storey car park and linking the bottom of Trenchard Street (where the ground is level with the Centre) exclusively with level 8 of the multi storey which has a direct, level access onto Park Row (below) just above the Red Lodge and not far below its summit level. The height gained would be nearly 30 metres, about the same as climbing Park Street!

Apparently devious cyclists have been using the existing car park lifts for just this purpose for some time now, but as we all know car park lifts aren’t exactly … welcoming. Chris suggests a plush external lift, offering cyclists a direct route, ample space and city views.

Good thinking!

On similar lines, why not reopen the Clifton Rocks railway, with a specially adapted carriage for cycles? Or, better, have a sag waggon tour Clifton, Kingsdown, Brislington, Totterdown in turn, offering assistance to disinclined riders? Why not commission the stretch limo Chris Hutt spotted occupying the cycle lane at the foot of Park Street for just this purpose?

I’m not convinced though.

Bristol does indeed have lots of hills and we should celebrate them: we’re a cyc-ling city, not a cycle-lift city! As a first step, I suggest creating a new cycle path out of the short but steep existing footpath which connects Stoney Lane to the City Farm pub. The proposed route integrates perfectly with the new (but woefully level) St Werburghs/B&Q bikeway. At a 1 in 3 gradient, it would also qualify as Bristol’s (Britain’s?) first hors catégorie cycle track.

Next, we could arrange a Bristol Beast event, an urban version of the famously savage route around Exmoor. I reckon a single lap of the city going up all the roads with names ending in “Hill” would compare well with any mountain stage of the Tour de France. I can visualise the epic climb up Mont D’Arbres Neuf, spectators lining the pavements, the world-famous Stokes Croft graffiti as a backdrop.


I’d be up for it!

Stretch limo picture credit, Chris Hutt.