Path to take cyclists off ‘dangerous’ Thornbury to Alveston road divides opinion

A NEW cycle greenway that is part of a £4.8 million improvement to the main road connecting Thornbury to Alveston has been given a mixed reception.

Cyclists have broadly welcomed the scheme, which will take riders off the “suicidal” B4061 Alveston Hill onto specially-built cycle lanes in fields nearby.

But others have branded the project it a waste of money and “virtue signalling”.

The proposed cycle path runs along the western side of the existing Alveston Hill road for 485m (a third of a mile) before crossing to the eastern side for 180 m and entering fields.

Field crossing

The cycleway crosses through fields to the east of the B4061 for 600m to Thornbury Leisure Centre where it joins Vilner Lane.

Thornbury Town Council has said it broadly supports the plan, but councillors want clarification over the cycle path exit and crossing point at the Alveston end, and have concerns about the lack of lighting.

They have also suggested signposting at the Thornbury end, directing cyclists to the town centre.

Alveston Parish Council also called for more information on the greenway entrance into the fields, and crossing for cycles over the main road.

The plans on South Gloucestershire Council’s planning portal, have attracted strong support, and criticisms.

Cyclists feel vulnerable on ‘terrifying’ stretch of road

The current narrow footpath next to Alveston Hill

Regular cyclist Ed Badger said: “This road is dangerous to cycle up and when you do, it understandably causes annoyance to drivers who can’t overtake a slow moving cyclist on a blind bend.” 

Cyclist Emma Cocksedge said: “Cycling up the hill on the road I feel extremely vulnerable, and have had a number of terrifying close passes and taken abuse shouted by drivers.”

Ramblers Association Severnside footpath secretary Catherine Hunsley said the group broadly supported the plan, but also had concerns about how the new footpath/cycle way would join the footpath along the A38 at Alveston.

Town councillor Danny Bonnett said: “Only the most intrepid cyclists will brave the traffic on the way up Alveston Hill at the present time, and this facility will allow those of all cycling abilities and speeds to give it a go.

“It will really open up cycling south from Thornbury to many.” 

Opponents say path is a ‘total waste of money’

Some objectors commenting on the council’s website questioned how many cyclists would actually use the greenway.

Resident Tony Mitchell said: “This proposal is a total waste of money and of dubious benefit. 

“The ‘greenway’ appears to start and finish on the same busy road, so I completely fail to see how this will provide complete safer conditions or encourage alternative use.

“Those concerned about walking or cycling up/down Alveston Hill will still have to arrive/depart at the road to get onto or leave this off-road green way.”

Nigel Morgan said: “This is another virtue signalling project of dubious benefit. It’s a path from nowhere to nowhere.”

Trevor Chambers said it would be better to use the money on pot hole repairs and white lining replacement, to benefit all road users.

Majority support in consulation

South Gloucestershire Council says it held a series of public consultation events and received 466 responses, with 59% of people saying they strongly supported the scheme and another 16% broadly in favour.

The council says It will provide a convenient and safe walking, wheeling and cycling route to improve journeys between Thornbury and Alveston.

A spokesperson said: “In addition to the new greenway, we are also proposing a series of highway improvements along Thornbury Road and Alveston Hill to support active and sustainable travel. 

“This includes a two-way cycle track and segregated footway, new pedestrian crossings, a new shared-use path, and new Dutch kerbs and dropped kerbs to improve accessibility.”

You can see the full planning application and have your say by searching the South Gloucestershire Council planning website for application number P23/03491/R3F.

Compulsory purchase of land

South Gloucestershire Council is planning to force landowners to sell the necessary land, if needs be.

The cabinet approved compulsory purchase orders, to be used if land negotiations are unsuccessful, during a public meeting on March 11.

Council bosses said these would be used “as a last resort”, although it’s understood ongoing negotiations have already delayed both schemes.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Willmore, cabinet member for planning, regeneration, and infrastructure, said: “I have horrors when I see pedestrians — never mind cyclists, people in wheelchairs or with baby buggies — getting down Alveston Hill on that narrow pavement where the road twists and turns and a lot of the cars go really fast.

“For me, the most important thing above all else, is getting something that gives people the ability to get from Alveston to Thornbury safely, which they don’t have at the minute. We want to get our full business case this August, so that we can get something started on the ground next spring.

“It’s so important for the safety of residents of all ages, but particularly schoolchildren and some of the elderly residents of Alveston, who are currently taking their life in their hands walking down Alveston Hill.”

Plans for both routes stretch back at least two decades, but appear to finally be getting over the line. The council plans to submit a full business case for the Yate route by June, and one for the Alveston route by August. These are needed to get the necessary funding to build the routes.

Cabinet meeting report by Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service