Survey lifts lid on cycling, speed and pedestrians on Railway Path

March 03 2020
Survey lifts lid on cycling, speed and pedestrians on Railway Path

A SURVEY has provided a snapshot of how the Bristol and Bath Railway path is used.

Transport charity Sustrans carried out the survey using video cameras to record pedestrian and cyclist movements on the path at one of its busiest points, near Whitehall Primary School (above).

It was carried out on weekdays and weekends in the summer and winter of 2018 and 2019.

Data from the survey has been presented to people using the Bristol & Bath Railway Path – OnePath Facebook group after work to turn it into graphs and tables by data analyst Adam Reynolds, who was asked to study it by Sustrans south area director James Cleeton.

The survey found that the majority of users of the path at Whitehall were cyclists on weekdays and weekends, regardless of the time of year, but that the proportions varied from more than 88% cyclists on weekdays in winter to 66.6% on a winter weekend.

It also found that average speeds of cyclists varied between weekdays and weekends, with weekday commuters faster, but ranged between 12 and 14.2mph. However the cameras also recorded a sizeable number of cyclists travelling at more than 20mph, particularly on weekdays, with a very small number travelling at more than 30mph and even, in one or two cases, more than 40mph.

The number of cyclists using the path on summer weekdays was around 4,500, falling to around 3,250 in the winter, with pedestrians numbering just over 820 in the summer, falling to around 440 in the winter.

At weekends, daily use by cyclists was around 2,200 in summer and 800 in winter, while for pedestrians it was around 800 in summer and 600 in winter.

Weekday use by pedestrians peaked at school opening and closing times, while cycling peaked just after 8am and 5pm. At weekends cycling peaked around 11am and 3pm, while pedestrian numbers were spread more evenly, with several peaks.

Sustrans is currently carrying out a £1.1 million scheme to improve the path on its busiest stretch as it passes through Whitehall, Easton and Lawrence Hill, with new designs for some of the busiest sections.

Mr Cleeton said the data “highlights the peaks in use at commuting and school run times, and confirms that there are some people who travel along the path at particularly high speeds”.

He added: “The volume data confirms the path’s popularity, particularly amongst people riding bikes. However it is only a picture of use in a short section of the path at Whitehall and doesn’t reflect how we’ve heard it is used along its whole length.

It is also not representative of the people who want to or could use the path; many people have told us that they are put off walking on it because they don’t feel safe doing so.”

For more on the survey visit the Bristol & Bath Railway Path – OnePath Facebook group.