We’ve all been there. Riding (or walking) along, perhaps even on an adequate cycle lane if we’re lucky. Oh no, roadworks. Clear signing for the motor traffic, but it’s probably placed neatly in the middle of the pavement or cycle lane. No help or alternatives provided.

In some places the local councils have taken decisions, at negligible expense, to require pedestrian and cycle traffic to be considered on an equal footing with motor vehicles. We wrote to Bristol Council Transport lead, Mhairi Threlfall, who is taking the idea forward.

Congratulations Mhairi on your initiative to improve communications regarding the progress of roadworks in the city. We at Bristol Cycling f​eel that this would be a good opportunity to point out the need for a more 21st century approach to signage for walkers and cyclists when carriageways are closed.

We note that signage is almost always addressed to motorists, and rarely to pedestrians and cyclists. This constitutes just one further bugbear to dissuade commuters from choosing active travel over motorised travel.

As one example, closed carriageways are almost always signed as “Road ​ Closed​”, even ​if​ this​ is simply not the case with​ complete access for pedestrians along footways, or room for cycles​ to pass with ease. But occasionally, “Road Closed” does mean that both the carriageway and the footway is closed. It’s just never communicated to pedestrians and cyclists what is the true situation.

Some cities simply require utilities to do the job properly – at negligible expense. Please see attached photo from Exeter.

Bristol Cycling ​strongly welcomes civic leaders seizing opportunities to encourage active travel, and ​to be proactive in pointing out and changing ​outdated practices that implicitly treat pedestrian and cycling transport as second-priority to motoring.

Here’s her reply:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your email and the photograph – the aim of activeroadworks is to improve communication for all journey’s [sic], including footway or cycle route major closures. I’ll pick this up with the team to see how this is reflected (and if it’s not, how it could be),

Kind regards
Mhairi

Cabinet member for Transport & Councillor for Eastville