1. I have been pursuing access to/from Victoria Bridge from the riverside path for some time, so this is my take on things and responds to various recent ‘tweets’.
2. Originally I lobbied for a ramp which would meet everyone’s requirements. B&NES Council Design Team produced an initial (ie not detailed) design a copy of which is attached. Victoria bridge rampTC8503.100.GA
3. As things progressed the Council Major Projects Team rejected the ramp option for two reasons, quote:
a. “it would have to run partly along the towpath, and would have reduced the towpath width in that area leaving a less than ideal arrangement for pedestrian and cycle traffic to safely pass one another.”
I can see some logic here (although arguably the ramp width could have been reduced).
b. “it would have had an unacceptably detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the listed structure. Bear in mind that the most obvious linkage route between the towpath and upper level that of the steps, lies within the curtilage of the Grade II listed structure.”
My interpretation is that English Heritage rejected the ramp, so that was that. (I have views on the power of EH but that’s another matter.)
Anyhoo, the ramp was history and I was told that a cycle ‘push-up’ would be incorporated.
4. When I, like others, saw what was in situ, I wasn’t doing cartwheels down the path, so I contacted Major Projects and have had an exchange of correspondence with David Reynolds which is currently continuing. I pointed out that the cycle push up/down (on the left-hand side looking up) caters for left-handers pushing up or right-handers pushing down, but would be quite awkward for ‘the reverse’.
5. Given the reality that the concrete is poured and what is in place is not, effectively, going to be able to be substantively changed, I suggested that the ‘flat’ section on right-hand side of the steps also be utlised as a push-up/down. Although it’s tricky to judge from outside the fence, it looks as if, with a few bricks and a couple of buckets of cement, the two sections could be joined by building in a rising curved section between them. Not perfect, but better.
6. The reply advised that the design had “been detailed as per the SUSTRANS standard detail. A channel is not proposed for the other side of the steps because we do not believe there is a need for two channels to cater for handedness – certainly I’m not aware of any design guidance which requires this – and we want to maximise the width available for pedestrians, which would reduce further with a channel on the other side.” In my recent response I highlighted: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/files/migrated-pdfs/guidelines%208.pdf – the last page 8.7, ‘Wheeling Ramps’, which states: “Ideally the ramp should be placed on both sides of the steps as this will cater for both left and right handed cyclists.” ie if you’re starting from scratch, this is what you should do.
7. Thus, I remain of the opinion that appropriate consideration should be given to implementing the proposal I outline at para 5 above. It won’t be perfect but, given where we are, I think it would represent a pragmatic and achievable improvement for not much effort.
8. Comments here or on Twitter are welcomed (althoughI request they be of the ‘constructive’ rather than ‘ranty’ nature :))