Tomb Stone Bristol

The roads are ever more congested and dangerous, they tell us. So here’s a new delight – small almost invisible teeth in the road, that will catch you and rip you from your motorcycle and eat you up! Even if you’re in a car you’ll be very sorry you drove along Clarence Road, in my old home city of Bristol. They have a mayor called George, you know. Here’s what I’ve just posted him. I’ll update you if I get a reply:

I am an ex-resident of Bristol now living in South Gloucestershire. As traffic levels increase I applaud the intention of your office to make Bristol a safer place to move around in; indeed, creating Britain’s first Cycling City. As a motorcyclist I believe PTW is a viable alternative to car use for those of us who need to make longer journeys, particularly where public transport has yet to connect to the rural communities. PTW take up less space on the road, easing congestion, and tend to be more fuel efficient per person/journey overall (given that most car journeys are single occupancy).

Pedal cyclists face hazards when sharing the road with cars and lorries, and as such the provision of cycle lanes is an obvious solution. However, in one case the construction of a cycle lane has, through ill-considered design, presented a serious hazard to other road users. For Powered Two Wheelers this hazard could well be fatal. I refer to the installation of Toby Bollards in Clarence Road, Recliff.

2015.03.15 327a

This cycle lane is built into the road, rather than the more customary extended and demarcated pavement. In fact it appears to be the width of a normal traffic lane, able to take large vehicles (is it a Metro Bus Lane in the making?). The bollards, which have more appropriately been renamed ‘Tombstones’, are grey on a grey tarmac road, and even the red reflector strips on them are coated with grey road dust. They stand about a foot high, ready to catch any errant vehicle (or even pedestrian) who ventures onto them, barely visible in good conditions.

In poor conditions, such as rain or fog, these bollards will be entirely invisible, especially by PTW with wet visors. The penalty for crossing the white line ought not to be serious injury or death, I hope you will agree.

2015.03.15 322a

You will note from the pictures I took this morning that at least one (in fact several)  of these bollards have been damaged, presumably by vehicles striking them. In a car this will have caused costly damage, on a motorcycle it would be an inevitable ‘off”. In either case there will have been damaged concrete cast across the carriageway. Given that some of the tombstones are already missing (and the installation is not yet complete) there would have been occasions when a full bollard was in the road.

Even in good conditions the road lanes have been reduced, as shown by the original centre line in my photographs. East travelling HGV traffic will inevitably cause the oncoming traffic to move towards the bollards, increasing the likelihood of impact. This scheme is ill thought out and should be withdrawn immediately, before someone is killed. The cycle lane, in my lay opinion, should be remade onto an extended pavement divided by painted lines and the road width protected for two lane two direction traffic. Or it could be that York Road and Clarence Road be made one way, which would make perfect sense and cause minimal impact on local residents and businesses.

I would be grateful if Bristol City Council would provide me with information including the justification for the use of the bollards, the accident statistics for Clarence Road and the risk assessment that was undertaken before the design was approved. Emailed copies would be satisfactory, but mail can be addressed to [redacted]

Yours Sincerely
Mark /|\ Rosher
cc Motorcycle Action Group
Also published on my personal blog
All in a personal capacity.

4 responses to “Tomb Stone Bristol”

  1. So, response from Bristol City Council 7th April 2015ce:

    Dear Mr Rosher,

    Thank you for contacting the City Council with regard to safety concerns, particularly those of powered two-wheelers on Clarence Road since the introduction of a segregated cycle track.

    In 2014 the City Council progressed a scheme following a period of extensive local consultation which included consultation with statutory parties, including the police.

    The cycletrack scheme mainly compromised of the following
    · The reallocation of road space to provide a 3m wide, two-way segregated cycletrack on the south side of the carriageway.
    · Concrete (Toby) bollards in the carriageway to separate vehicular traffic from the cycleway.
    · Footway widening/road narrowing at each end of the scheme.
    · Modifications to the crossings at the west end and at the middle of the scheme.

    The New Cut corridor lends itself well for a segregated, two way cycle facility because there are no vehicle crossovers for access. We had to consider the best and most economical way to provide a suitable facility for cyclists that was separate from both motor vehicles and pedestrians. In Bristol we have a good history of trying new methods and when considering the various constraints, a continuous linear separation feature such as a kerb was not possible, it was agreed to try ‘light segregation.’

    There are on the market a number of products to achieve ‘light segregation’, such as the Cycle Hoop Armadillo (known as a Zicla in Spain), which are designed to be overrun by motor vehicles. We carefully considered using these as they would be kinder to a vehicle should they hit it, however, they did not offer as much protection to cyclists (perceived or actual) and risked cars parking in the cycle lane. We are also aware of the complaints made against the use of the armadillo in Saltford.

    The decision to use the ‘Toby’ bollards, based upon examples in Seville, was done with considerable thought and consultation with various groups and bodies. I recognise that it would have been prudent to contact Motorcycle action groups at this time to seek greater input. I would also like to iterate that they have been installed on a trial basis as it is the first time a Highway Authority has used a product like this in the UK.

    The carriageway has been reduced to 6.1m (at its narrowest). We recognise that this is narrow but is still sufficient to accommodate two-way traffic. Unfortunately whilst on site constructing the cycletrack, the New Cut wall failed following a high tide event and emergency works had to be undertaken. This has severely delayed the completion of the cycletrack and many of the features have not been completed, this includes much of the lining and signing. We considered that this would be an ideal time to undertake a stage three Road Safety Audit (RSA) which would also assist with snagging.

    I have summarised some of the issues that arose in the Road Safety Report that are of relevance to your concerns.

    1. Clarity regarding how users (particularly visually impaired people and cyclists) might expect to safely utilise the new facility.
    The signing has not yet been installed and we will ensure that it is clear on how we expect users to access the facility. The Clarence Road scheme is also part of a wider programme to create an Avon Promenade, a segregated cycle facility that extends from Keynsham to Hotwells. When the remaining phases are complete, such as Bath Bridges and Bedminster Roundabout it will be clearer how we expect cyclists, and pedestrians to access the cycle track.

    2. The road width is much reduced. Cyclists on the carriageway may feel intimidated and vehicles drive too close resulting in loss of control.
    Part of which is addressed above and we would encourage cyclists to use the cycle track however cyclists choosing should use the road should do so by controlling their space as they would on any road with car parking that reduces carriageway width.

    3. A tree at the road edge immediately west of the St Mary Redcliffe School entrance grows at an angle over the eastbound lane.
    We will be removing the tree. This should assist with keeping vehicles traveling west to east to stay closer to the northern kerb and not encroach on the opposing carriageway.

    4. The bollards are positioned immediately alongside the vehicular carriageway. Concern that some of the bollards had been struck and a broken part could strike a pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle. A standard kerb at the road edge is struck it may deflect a vehicle back into the road but the bollard may not.
    We will attempt to reduce the chances of the bollards being struck by providing a central carriageway marking which should encourage eastbound motorists to keep within their carriageway. We are also considering a more prominent edge of carriageway marking such a rumble strip.

    5. Under ideal conditions with good forward visibility the bollards can be seen reasonably well by drivers as an apparently continuous feature ahead. However in slow moving traffic or when manoeuvring the low height and indistinct colouring make bollards close to the vehicle difficult to see. Also noted that in conditions when light is failing for example at dusk or when it is rain, it has been reported that the bollards are difficult to see.
    We will be considering improving the visibility by use of colour and reflectivity.

    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts after considering the points above and whether you think our proposed mitigation in response to concerns are sufficient.

    I would expect all riders to be in the middle of the carriageway and would not expect them to be riding close to the bollards but appreciate that there are occasions when avoidance needs to be taken. I trust that when the central carriageway marking is introduced the likelihood of this occurring will be diminished.

    I look forward in your response.

    Kindest regards


    Nick Pates
    Senior Officer (Walking and Cycling)
    Highways and Traffic
    Transport Service
    Wilder House
    Wilder Street
    BS2 8PH


  2. Reply to Nick Pates at BCC, 10th April 2015ce

    Dear Nick

    Thank you for your detailed reply. It’s unfortunate I didn’t see the consultation while it was running but it’s all I can do to keep up with them in South Gloucestershire where I now live. I recognise I’m not local to Bristol any more, and you have held local consultations, but traffic management of course affects everyone driving into Bristol, not just Bristolians.

    I disagree with your stated position that continuous linear separation was not possible. Clearly it would be possible to extend the kerb, or to segregate with other types of barrier that did not present such an obviously injurious hazard to powered two-wheeler riders. The reason for not doing so can only be presumed to be financial, and as a recently retired safety professional I believe the balance of safety and cost must always be biased toward safety of persons. I’m fairly sure even in these straitened times you’ll agree with me.

    I’m familiar with the Zicla from reports, and frankly I’m glad you didn’t select that as it is potentially even more hazardous to PTW (and cyclists) than the Toby Bollard. I’m aware that these are being used elsewhere in the country including Salford and that the Motorcycle Action Group are actively opposed to them there.

    I appreciate you comment (albeit far too late to be any use here) that you should have consulted with MAG, and that these bollards are in fact being trialled rather than fitted as a permeant solution. I would ask that in your position as a senior office er in the highways department of the council you give MAG (and other relevant parties) the same right of consultation as statutory consultees, so that future options can be discussed with people who in fairness are lay experts in their field(i.e. motorcyclists). I wonder if you would give me your thoughts on this.

    I’m afraid your comment regarding your perception as to how cyclists and motorcyclists should control their space shows a lack of familiarity with at least learner motorcyclists. In my experience, learner riders on mopeds are one of the most vulnerable road users of all. Riding under-powered machines capable of a lower speed than some pedal cycles can manage, these riders often hug the kerb in fear of cars and trucks who squeeze them ever more into the kerb. It may be that they should control their space, but in the real world they are highly likely to be driven onto the bollards.

    I accept your suggestion the bollards may be more visible if (my interpretation) they are painted hi-vis yellow. However, we all know that road dirt will cover even brightly painted or reflective surfaces very quickly and I do not believe there is any possibility of long term visibility of these bollards in poor conditions, e.g. rain during dusk. Neither do I feel the application of painted markings (slippery when wet) will sufficiently reduce the risk of incursion into the bollards.

    Overall, while I am grateful for your considered feedback, I do not feel any of your suggestions sufficiently mitigate what is an ill-conceived traffic management system. I do hear rumours that some bollards are being removed, although right now I can’t conclude this is a positive move or if it is simply that the damaged bollards are being replaced. I can hope for the former.

    Please keep this discussion active. As I did originally I shall share this conversation with local and regional MAG, as well as publicly on my web site. Thank you for taking the time to respond in this matter, and I look forward to your comments on mine.

    Yours Sincerely
    Mark Rosher IEng MIET


  3. […] is a continuance of a previous blog entry, which I wrote on encountering Toby Bollards for the first time. Do read the initial post to get […]


  4. To keep this thread updated, here’s a link to the second post on this topic.


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