The Bristol Transport Strategy includes a priority to “Reduce obstructions to walking. Enhance enforcement measures for issues that make walking difficult or unpleasant. These include bins on footpaths, parking on footpaths and across access points, overhanging vegetation, street clutter, litter and dog fouling.”
This issue has become even more pressing as a result of the pandemic and the need to maintain social distances on narrow, crowded and cluttered pavements. Older and disabled people are particularly disadvantaged by a poor walking environment.
Bristol City Council has limited capacity and will need to be very much clearer about its policies regarding a range of street obstructions. What will it enforce? To what will it turn a blind eye? Without greater clarity and realism BCC will continue to fail to protect footways and be seen to fail.
A bigger role will need to be assigned to willing community organisations, some of which will be members of the Bristol Walking Alliance. These will need to be recognised and respected as true partners within this policy, not just sometimes useful groups to be patronised and dismissed when convenient. Community organisations will need to link more closely and purposefully with residents, traders and others.
Let’s Walk Bedminster is piloting this approach and exploring how stronger links with council enforcement could work in practice. Contact them at .