Is it time to drive cars out of Bristol City Centre? Bristol's traffic supremo believes so
Cars could be banned from large parts of Bristol's centre.
A radical new layout for the area in front of the Hippodrome would see priority for pedestrians and public transport in proposals put forward by Bristol's transport leader Jon Rogers.
Council officials have produced a blueprint to show what could be achieved when the long-awaited bendy buses start running through the city centre to ease traffic congestion.
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The proposals include:
A ban on traffic crossing the Centre from Park Street to Baldwin Street.
Cars and other non-public transport would be limited to a single lane in each direction from Park Street, past the Hippodrome and the cenotaph, to Rupert Street.
Colston Street would be blocked off so only buses would be allowed past the Colston Hall onto the centre.
The end of Baldwin Street nearest the Hippodrome would be blocked off and two-way traffic diverted down Marsh Street.
Only public transport would be allowed on Broad Quay.
Transport supremo Jon Rogers wants a debate to find the best solution to accommodate the bendy buses and ease traffic congestion.
He stressed that nothing will be decided until the debate has finished.
He told the Evening Post: "Bristol has been unambitious for far too long. Let's have a look at radical ideas, decide what is best for the city and then go for it."
He said traffic engineers could plug away at working up a scheme for six months – only for people to think they have been presented with a fait accompli.
"I want to explore what people think and tease out the pros and cons before we make any decisions," Dr Rogers said.
The centre has seen a number of accidents – some fatal – since it was remodelled for the millennium.
Earlier this month, a pensioner in her 70s was taken to the BRI after she was hit by a taxi outside the Hippodrome. In June, five pedestrians were hit by a red Mini in St Augustine's Parade.
Actor Kris Marshall was taken to hospital after he was involved in a collision on the same stretch of road.
At least two people have died after being hit by buses at the junction of Broad Quay and Baldwin Street.
The crossing point was an accident blackspot before new barriers were erected.
The overhaul of the centre is part of a £186m package to create a bendy bus route from the northern fringe to Hengrove, including a park and ride site off the M32. The council has a deadline of March to put a bid before the Department for Transport in order to win funding.
Part of the bid must be a workable – not finalised – plan for the centre.
The aim is to get the northern fringe route up and running by 2014/2015.
The centre was remodelled in time for the millennium celebrations, which included the controversial fountains and "bobbly" pavement which led to so much criticism from pedestrians, particularly the elderly.
There was a suggestion at the time to ban traffic from being able to travel across the centre from Park Street to Baldwin Street.
But the idea created such an outcry, it was dropped by the council.
Another idea was to reopen the docks, which used to extend to beyond Baldwin Street.
They were capped with concrete in the 1930s to make way for the motor car, which was becoming increasingly popular.
But this plan was also dropped on the grounds of cost and the fear that the ageing harbour walls would not cope with the pressure of so much water.