Bike path bus lane schemers refuse to go quietly

Council chiefs refuse to rule out future scheme

Plans to build a bus lane on the UK's oldest cycle path may have been abandoned for now, but transport chiefs are still refusing to rule out the scheme for good.

At the weekend BikeRadar reported how council leaders in Bristol had shelved proposals to build a four metre wide bus lane to run alongside the currently traffic free path between the city and Bath.

But this week they distanced themselves from any firm promise to leave the much loved path alone.

At a meeting at Bristol's Council House campaigners booed and yelled 'shame' as councillors passed a watered down resolution which left the path open to future threats.

After a heated debate, the final resolution passed read: "The council notes the strength of feeling expressed by citizens of Bristol against the possible shared use by rapid transit of the much-loved Bristol to Bath cycle path."Council further recognises that walking and cycling are vital components of the strategy to encourage more sustainable and healthier travel behaviour in our city. While fully recognising the vital importance of improving public transport, Bristol City Council will oppose route proposals which undermine the current and future expansion of walking and cycling in Bristol and, in particular, will oppose any threat to the current or future use of the Bristol to Bath cycle path.

"Council requires further information about the various route options, including those on roads and for these to be the subject of full public consultation."

Green councillor Charlie Bolton, who proposed the original, more strongly worded motion, said the amended version didn't go far enough to protect the path.

Campaigner Steve Meek, one of the key figures in the fight to save the path, said: "It's weasel words. They can come back at any time and put Bus Rapid Transit down the route.

"The proposal is very much alive and kicking in our view. I think the motion was deliberately vague."

The original plan to build the bus route along the Bristol to Bath path met with widespread protest. Two petitions collected 10,000 signatures against the scheme and local MPs also backed the fight.

The Bristol to Bath Railway Path was the first built by cycle charity Sustrans in the early 1980s, and is the most popular on the National Cycle Network. It sees 2.4 million journeys a year by walkers and cyclists.

Protesters against the bus lane scheme say that it couldn't be built without destroying hedgerows and wildlife, and ruining the peace of the path.

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