Nelson Street

Looking down Nelson Street

The Society has commented on draft plans for Nelson Street. These comments follow an on-site visit by 5 of us.

The plans, funded by the Cycling Ambition Fund programme, include a segregated contraflow cycle lane. The plans aim to be pedestrian-friendly, but the space available is heavily constrained by the requirement that buses should be able to go past each other at bus stops.

We commented on the plans for the imminent CAF-funded changes, but we did not confine ourselves to the short term. Our key comments on CAF-funded changes are:

  1. Enhance the route on the north pavement of Nelson Street
  2. Stop vehicles parking on pavements
  3. Retain and increase the number of trees
  4. Add ‘landscaping’ to enhance visual interest on the pavement
  5. Reduce vehicle speeds
  6. Restrict motor vehicles on Bridewell Street more than is currently proposed

The pedestrian experience

All 5 of us on the walkabout agreed on the poor pedestrian experience. Comments included: “It’s SO noisy … particularly the buses”. It was verified that buses average at more than one a minute, and sometimes come in 2s or 3s.

Nelson Street feels like a canyon, with tall buildings on both sides, and little relief from ground-floor active frontages. The only exceptions are the two new buildings which provide a comfortable width of pavement.

The experience gets even worse at the Broadmead end, with the high vehicle movement along Nelson Street complicated by vehicle crossing movements from/to Bridewell Street, All Saints’ Street, Fairfax Street.

Pavement parking and illegal parking on double yellow lines is rife, thus increasing the feeling of motor traffic domination.

All this in a street that is designated a primary walking route in planning policy (Central Area Plan). On a primary walking route, one expects to see design proposals for enhancing and prioritising the pedestrian experience. Instead, it feels in Nelson Street, as in so many other places, that pedestrians get what’s left after the needs of other transport modes have been met.

How to rescue Nelson Street

Nelson Street can only be rescued by changing the bus routes, but this is not in the council’s immediate plans. In the meantime, the Society welcomes the opportunity for improvements to Nelson Street that the CAF funding brings.

Use this link for the Society’s full response.

Alan Morris

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