Calls to change ‘crazy situation’ on narrow bridge where cars and pedestrians share road

RECENT safety changes to Damsons Bridge in Winterbourne Down don’t go far enough, say residents.

But South Gloucestershire Council says plans to build a separate footbridge parallel to the existing stone bridge would not happen for “some time”.

The narrow bridge carrying Down Road over the River Frome has no footpath, and locals have been campaigning for safety improvements for pedestrians for more than ten years.

It was closed for three days in October while the council installed dropped kerbs to help wheelchair users.

The work attracted criticism, as it added to problems with the closure of the nearby M4 overbridge connecting Badminton Road to the Ring Road, leaving some villagers feeling cut off.

Four years ago, 176 local people signed a petition asking for improvements.

In the last 18 months a solid single white line, which was meant to separate cars from pedestrians, was widened into a wider pedestrian-only walkway on one side of the bridge (pictured below).

But one resident, who asked not to be named, told the Voice some drivers still ignored it and drove over the white lines.

He said he had been hit four times by cars on the narrow bridge.

The resident said: “Up until now there has been two-way traffic, and cars don’t really care too much about pedestrians.

“After much campaigning by local people, the white lines were widened, and they have made a difference, as most drivers slow down and either one way or the other has to give way.

“But just takes one in 20 to ignore the white lines, and there is a problem for any pedestrian on the bridge.”

‘Many people have been hit by cars’

The resident said local people understood that a new pedestrian footbridge would not happen until funds were available, but they wanted the painted lines replaced with a raised pavement, to keep cars off.

He said: “Many people have been hit by cars here, admittedly at low speed, but it is very dangerous. We would just like to keep the cars away from the pedestrians.”

South Gloucestershire Streetworks posted on Facebook that the latest changes, dropped kerbs and “tactile pavements”, were installed in October “following concerns from local mobility-impaired residents”.

One resident responded by posting that the present situation was “a crazy situation”.

Another called on South Gloucestershire Council to progress proposals for a footbridge.

Winterbourne ward South Gloucestershire councillors Trevor Jones and Nicholas Labuschagne said they support the local campaign. 

They said: “We’re pleased to see that action has been taken to improve pedestrian safety on Damsons Bridge.

“This is something we have continuously campaigned for as it’s a hugely important issue for local residents.

“Further measures still need to be considered, however, with the ideal solution being the installation of a footbridge adjacent to the road.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and press the administration to make this a top priority.”

‘Some time’ before decision on new bridge can be taken

A council spokesperson said: “After listening to residents and investigating options to improve safety at Damson Bridge in Winterbourne, it was decided that construction of a separate pedestrian and cycle bridge alongside the current, listed structure would be the most suitable, long-term solution. 

“We are looking at this proposal to assess land ownership and environmental issues associated with such a project, and this is likely to take some time before any decision can be made on the viability of a separate bridge.”