The changes that went live yesterday (Sunday 2 August) prevent through traffic from using the bridge. Baldwin Street and Union Street are also closed to through traffic to prevent these roads being used as an alternative route.
Priority has been given to buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians travelling through Bristol city centre with a package of major transport improvements to ease congestion and pollution. These plans were already in the pipeline but have been accelerated to help Bristolians safely navigate the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The changes include new protected bike lanes with temporary bollards on Lewins Mead, Park Row, Upper Maudlin Street and Marlborough Street and traffic reduced from two lanes to one along much of these roads. It also includes the pedestrianisation of the Old City.
The long-term ambition is to make the new road layouts permanent, as part of the council’s transformation of Bristol’s transport network to create cleaner air and better bus, walking and cycling journeys, alongside ongoing plans for a mass transit public transport system.
Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “All of these major changes to key Bristol roads will make a massive difference to the quality of our air as we divert traffic away from the city centre.
“These transformative measures will create a more connected future for everyone, with cleaner air, safer and better public transport, and improved walking and cycling routes. They will also support social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These important changes will inevitably result in a period of adjustment as we all adapt, but they are crucial for protecting public health, encouraging more efficient travel, and making bus services more reliable in the long-term.
“We encourage people to get out and explore the new dedicated walking and cycling routes we are providing, and we are keen to engage with communities and monitor the impacts before making any changes permanent.”
James Freeman, Managing Director at First West of England, said: “At a time when it’s possible for everybody to return to the buses again after the lockdown, it is great to see Bristol City Council extending bus priority in this way.
“We are taking immediate advantage of this by doubling the number of route 2 buses that cross Bristol Bridge from today. We’re doing this by introducing a new 2a route from Stockwood to Southmead, which runs parallels to the number 2 for most of its route.”
Jon Usher, Head of Partnerships in the South of England at Sustrans, said: “We are really excited to see the closure of Bristol Bridge and Union Street to the majority of motor traffic – making the city centre a safer, more enjoyable place for people to move around on foot, by cycle or wheel. This action will help to ease congestion, improve air quality, and support Bristol’s public transport system, all of which are vital if Bristol is to make a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We commend Bristol City Council for the hard work it has done to bring forward these measures more quickly than planned, in response to the pandemic. We hope this is the start of a real transformation in the way people are able to move around the city.”
Melanie Watson, co-chair of the Bristol Transport Board, said: “Existing bus passengers consistently tell us that reliable services are one of the key improvements they would like to see. Schemes such as the bus gate at Bristol Bridge are welcomed as they provide priority for buses, which helps to provide consistent and reliable journey times for passengers by keeping the buses moving and away from congestion.”
Camera-monitored bus gates with signs and road markings to prohibit general traffic will be installed on Bristol Bridge, either end of Baldwin Street and at the bottom of Union Street.
Access to these roads for loading, businesses, residents, disabled bays and car parks will remain possible using alternative routes. Detail on these routes is available on the Bristol City Council website.
A six-month consultation period has now begun for the Bristol Bridge closure. For more information on the changes and to give your views, visit bristol.gov.uk/bristolbridgeinfo
For more information on all the improvements that are being accelerated to enable social distancing, visit our transport pages.
The measures are being done on a temporary basis initially and Bristol City Council will assess how they are working before permanent changes are made. An interactive mapping tool for people to make comments is available at: bristol.gov.uk/covidtransport.
People can also give their views on how to improve bus, walking and cycling journeys on the number 2 bus route, from the A37 to the A4018, until Friday 11 September by visiting Travelwest.info/A37A4018.
If you do not have access to the internet please write to: Transport Engagement Team, PO Box 3399, Bristol, BS1 9NE.