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Bradford on Avon Wiltshire

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Plans to alter Bradford on Avon town centre a solution?

To be brief, Bradford on Avon's problem with traffic is due to the A363 which goes right through the centre of the town. This is because the road has to cross the ancient town bridge. The problem is made worse by the B3109 that also uses the bridge. It would be possible to bypass the town centre by building a new bridge besides the railway bridge to the east but unfortunately, due to lack of consideration for future development, planning decisions that have been made over the years have made such a proposal too destructive as it would mean demolition of houses that have been built..

To further add to Bradford on Avon's traffic problems new housing has been built and is continuing to be being built where there is little prospect of local work. A lot of this housing has taken possible employment land.  One of the reasons for this development is that building in towns and cities has become too expensive. Traffic levels are increasing and will continue to increase whilst house building continues unchecked.

There is little prospect of reducing the damage caused by traffic in Bradford on Avon. People cannot cross the road in safety and even the possible building of a new bridge costing over a million pounds has been proposed. The present plan includes dispensing with the zebra crossing. This would be welcome if it is to be replaced by traffic lights. Any other suggestion is nonsense. 

Time and time again I have witnessed people, pedestrians, who are unable  to cross urban roads (anywhere) because the vehicles will not give way to them. This is not because drivers are unwilling to give way, well actually it is. The thirty miles per hour limit makes it even more dangerous for pedestrians to cross the road , as it gives them even less time and opportunity to cross the road.

1. Pedestrians need a safe way to cross a busy road.
2. they need pavements with a decent kerb to deter traffic from mounting the pavement
3. Pavements are for pedestrians only and the roads are for vehicles.
4. Vehicles must not mount the pavement to do so is to break the law
5. pedestrian must cross roads sensibly otherwise they could be charged with jaywalking - not n the UK yet
6 pavements have kerbs that do separate traffic where they are maintained in Wiltshire they are poor
7.  zebra crossings do provide a measure of protection to pedestrians crossing the road as do central refuges (islands)
4. traffic light controlled crossings provide an even safer way to cross a road

Traffic light controlled crossings can also be part of a scheme to manage traffic where the road is narrow.

Some of the suggestions that have been proposed have no legal backing, whereas the zebra and light controlled crossings do as well as vehicles mounting a pavement. I would hope that the police as well as the Highway authority have been consulted about these plans.

"The HCZ plan is expected to cost Wiltshire Council £2.5m. Its aim is to create equal rights on Bradford’s two main roads, Market Street and Silver Street, for motorists and pedestrians by using different coloured stones to mark out footpaths and the road." Wiltshire Times article

I'd love to be able to draw a cartoon here, but I don't have the skill. If anyone has please send me your artwork for inclusion in this article. 

Let's clarify the legal status of coloured patched of road. There isn't any, is there?

How will blind people cope with these changes? Even sighted people will have problems seeing the proposed changes. Depending on weather conditions surfaces have varying degrees of visibility. Even  jet black surfaces will appear to be white under direct sunlight when the surface is wet.

Do I have to photograph the location? Perhaps I should. Bradford on Avon has the ugliest wall in any town centre, it has a huge expanse of black almost featureless stone covered in soot and grime and is about 30 feet high. The wall has determined the width of the A363 which is a major road into a pinch-point. Although traffic can hardly speed through Masons Lane, at least during the day, The existing zebra crossing does provide a safe means to cross the road and also help traffic enter Market Street from Church Street when someone is using crossing.  Daily Mail

I have made two videos of traffic movements on Bradford on Avon's town bridge. Two minutes by day and two minutes by night  These short videos show just how busy the only road across the river Avon is, and incidentally the only break in the day time traffic occurred when the pedestrian controlled crossing could be heard.

Proposed Historic Core Zone (HCZ) Bradford on Avon

The town's population has decided on whether to reject or accept the proposal. The polulation has rejected the plan. This is a comment made by Mayor John Potter:

“I am disappointed that it was voted no and it would have been a great opportunity for money to be spent on the town."

“It’s been a while since any amount of money like this was spent and sadly that is the way it will stay despite the state of the roads being shocking.”

Ther is little logic in the mayor's statements. Why should the town's roads be neglected and remain unrepaired? The roads have been left in a neglected state deliberately. Neglect of road repairs has been decided because some factions have been in favour of the HCZ plan. why spend money on the roads when the plan (if accepted) will require disruption and alerations to the road's surfaces.

Since the plan has been rejected there is no reason at all for road repairs not to go ahead, unless the money is only available for untried plans based  on faulty Shared Space philosphy. It is notable that some much times and effort has had to be spent including a poll costing nearly seven thousand pounds for a plan that has stirred up resentment from the very start.

Is there a need for additional traffic lights

I am inclined to think that Bradford on Avon would benefit from a new set of traffic lights ;located at the junction of Mason's Lane and Newtown. Controlliing the traffic at this junction would enable pedestrians to cross the roads more easily as there would be time for traffic to empty from the two pinch points. The HCZ plan has been described as pedestrian friendly in the press but the public have disagreed. At the core (pun intended) is the proposal to remove the zebra crossing. Mention has been made earlier on the crossings replacement with traffic lights. I don't think that proposal  would be desirable but traffic lights at the end of  Market Street would force the traffic to stop. The lights could be part-time. Another possibility is to have police officer control at rush hour times.

Posted on 30 Jan 2015 by Geoff Edwards
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Video of two minutes on Bradford on Avon bridge by day

The video below is two minutes of unedited video footage of traffic flow over Bradford on Avon's town bridge at about 9:00am in the morning. The only opportunity to pedestrians to cross the road occurred when someone pressed the button on the Pelican crossing 50 metres south of the bridge and when the mini roundabout was gridlocked.


Posted on 10 Mar 2012 by Geoff Edwards
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Two minutes on Bradford on Avon's town bridge at night

This film below was taken at 9:30pm on a Thursday evening.  Even on a quiet weekday evening it is quite surprising how many cars there are going in both directions. There are no shops or supermarkets open and people would hardly be returning home from work.

I'll also film two minutes during the day

Posted on 09 Jan 2012 by Geoff Edwards
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Bradford on Avon's bridges

Residents are not so willing to go a little out of their way and use St Margaret's bridge, which is is ideally located adjacent to a car park by the railway station. What many residents want is a new bridge which will cost over a million pounds, a mere trifle, and to hell with filling the potholes.  The two proposals, or is it three? Include a conservative design (ie. in keeping with the ancient setting) and a modern design; the third option is no bridge! I have no objection to modern design but I don't think that a modern design bridge or any other modern building is appropriate in Bradford on Avon without considerable reflection on the manner in which such a development could harm the ancient environment. Bradford on Avon is not Venice but it is well worthwhile exploring on foot.

St Margaret's bridge

 St Margaret's bridge, although modern in design, is in harmony with it's location. Concrete does not weather like stone but the bridge does not do damage to its location, in fact it provides views of the river that would be unobtainable from the banks.  The town's road bridge is or course of a high quality, if not great beauty. the problem is that the river Avon has few bridges. There has been little attention given to the wisdom of building houses in places where there is no local work and consequently the road through Bradford on Avon is very busy. but that is another matter. The bridge is too narrow to widen the pavements but there are other possibilities: I have discussed the safety of pedestrians in another article:  One million pounds for a footbridge  

Bradford on Avon's road bridge

There are two sides to the town bridge and everyone is agreed that any proposed new bridge should not be located close to the bridge on the western side as that would of course destroy the view to the left. There are no public locations to the east of the bridge  that provide a view of Bradford and the town's bridge. This is surely wrong why are substantial lengths of the river Avon inaccessible to the public? Who owns them? And why should we have to accept that? However the view below, from the east side would also be affected by the proximity of the proposed bridge whether it is of cable stayed design or not.. The view of the town bridge from the eastern side is. even in early spring,  partly obscured by wild shrubs growing out of the river bank. As a photographer I usually carry pruning shears for removing extraneous material from a view but forgot them today.

 A unique view from the eastern side of the town bridge .is of the blind house that forms part of the bridge.  This view is really spoilt by the shrub or small tree, in the summer it would be hardly visible at all. The I think that the proposed new bridge would be so close to this venerable relic that it would really detract from its  spirit...  .












The photograph below was taken looking east from the town bridge.

This view would disappear if a foot bridge was built close to the bridge. I understand that the location of the approved cable stay bridge would be much further away.  Unfortunately, unless the foot bridge is located close to the existing town people will tend to not use it in preference to using the town bridge. In which case does it make sense to spend such a huge sum of money?  A new bridge costing over a million pounds would mean calculating bridge life at 120 years a sum of over £8,000 a year plus interest.  St Margaret's bridge is further away than the proposed new foot bridge, but it is there and I suppose paid for. The question is who needs another foot bridge?  Why should residents put up with the continual intimidation by motorised traffic? 

Traffic control on Bradford on Avon's town bridge

Is it possible to control traffic using the bridge, yes. Why not think seriously about how to reduce traffic speed over Bradford's town bridge. At present, unless the pedestrian crossing which is controlled by traffic lights is showing red it is not possible to safely cross the road by the bridge and only then if the traffic coming the other way gives way. We could at least have two sets of lights and if necessary a one way system set up. At least when the traffic is stopped people will have time to cross the road. Hasn't this proposal for another foot bridge arisen along with the new Kingston mill  development?  Why was this development given approval when there is virtually no work in the area unless of course the new dwelling owners will be mainly retired people?

A major part of the existing problem is that the pavements are too narrow, two people cannot easily pass each other, even at slow speeds passing motor vehicles make crossing the bridge uncomfortable and dangerous.  One possibility, there are others that I have discussed in an earlier article below, which has not been discussed is to widen the pavement by jetting out the wall on the west side of the bridge. This would involve partially altering the design off a grade II ancient monument (?) but can be carried out using stone and in such a way as to enhance the bridge. 

Photographs of bridges including cable-stayed footbridge

The links below are to more photographs in Bradford on Avon and to Frome Somerset's new cable-stayed Jenson Button footbridge. I have also included photos of the existing footbridge which is no shorter than the new cable-stayed bridge. The new bridge cost in excess of  £200,000 and replaced a Bailey type bridge that also carried road traffic into the town's car park. Frome's town bridge is not as grand as Bradford's but is interesting as it has buildings over it on one side. An old wall had been removed to allow for a wider pavement with railings instead of a wall. The cable-stayed footbridge has a smaller column than the planned Bradford on Avon bridge. The whole bridge is very well made and is not out of place in its environment. However, apart from celebrating Jenson Button's MBE  victory in Formula 1 in 2009 I see no real  justification to have that style of bridge. And in fact, a group of Frome residents tried to get the Bailey bridge listed!

group of photos Bradford on Avon    Frome town bridge   Jenson Button cable-stayed footbridge Frome   Frome footbridge

The extract below is from Wikipedia. What is notable about this type of cable stayed bridge is that the design is, in engineering terms, far more radical in that it must neutralise considerably more forces.  

Cantilever-spar cable-stayed bridge for Bradford on Avon?

Far more radical in its structure, the Redding, California, Sundial Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that uses a single cantilever spar on one side of the span, with cables on one side only to support the bridge deck. Unlike the other cable-stayed types shown this bridge exerts considerable overturning force upon its foundation and the spar must resist the bending caused by the cables, as the cable forces are not balanced by opposing cables. The spar of this particular bridge forms the gnomon of a large garden sundial. Related bridges by the architect Santiago Calatrava include the Puente del Alamillo (1992), Puente de la Mujer (2001), and Chords Bridge (2008).


Posted on 19 Mar 2011 by Geoff Edwards
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One million pounds for a footbridge!

I understand from an article published on that the town council is prepared to spend the best part of a million pounds on a new cycle/footbridge. The bridge will cross the Avon from the Kingston Mills development to the town library. Whilst I cannot claim to represent the residents of Bradford and surrounding districts I can contribute my views and suggestions. Let's start with a numbered list.

1. I agree that the present bridge is most unfriendly to pedestrians

2. If cyclists don't like to use the bridge  it is because they don't have enough confidence to use our roads. Cyclists are entitled to their own space on our roads and drivers should respect the right of cyclists to use the roads. I do not think that we should be making planning decisions based on the fears of cyclists to use our roads. 

3. Why should the character of this wonderful town be further diminished by pressure from motor vehicles, particularly heavy good vehicles? The existing bridge's character must not be damaged by the addition of a modern bridge erected nearby. I doubt whether people will use the new bridge anyway if it means going out of their way. There are other places in Bradford on Avon that are worse, for example, there are no pavements at all when pedestrians cross over the bridge to enter the town centre. 

4. Pedestrians could be protected by two measures: adding railings to separate the road from the pavement and increasing the width (and the height) of the pavement which is little more than a footpath (about 1 metre wide). To increase the width of the pavements must mean  traffic lights as the road width will be reduced to a single track.

My view is that since we can't easily change vehicle driver's behaviour railings could be installed and the pavements raised. These measures would cost a few or possibly several thousand pounds but certainly not a million pounds! The alterations would hardly detract from the character of the bridge and would provide protection from vehicles. Possibly only the pavement needs raising -drivers are very wary of damage to their tyres.

6. However, if the existing bridge cannot be changed as suggested above then at least the pavements could be made wider and traffic lights used to control the narrowing of the road.

7. There is of course an existing footbridge over the river by St. Margarets hall that many people do use.

Posted on 01 Dec 2009 by Geoff Edwards
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