The cycle route to access the Odd Down Cycle Circuit directs people riding bikes up Bloomfield Road from the Two Tunnels Bloomfield open space access and exit point. Bloomfield Road is hardly cycle friendly, although it does have a 20 mph speed limit, it is pretty steep and is a busy main road. Now that may be fine for many people, but not everyone. However, it is the most direct route.
When I come off the Two Tunnels path at Bloomfield open space I ride the lower part of Bloomfield Road, on my way to Combe Down and left along quiet Hatfield Road to approach the Wellsway dual carriageway. I am supposed to cross the dual carriageway at the Hatfield Road junction, to get on to the southern carriageway – a pretty hazardous crossing. After the crossing I am supposed to remain on the carriageway for about another 300 yards, riding mostly on the outside of parked cars, before I am able to get on to the shared path; in practice I often get on the path just above the Devonshire Arms. I dispute that there is anything wrong with cycling the entire length of this path, except the path is a bit narrow at this point. Few pedestrians use this path when walking to or from Bear Flat.
The shared path does not kick in until there are no houses and no parked cars on the south side. This is ridiculous, as people, bikes and cars crossing the pavement to get to the few garages and the front doors on this stretch are travelling very slowly. I see no ligitimate reason why the shared path should not begin at the Devonshire Arms. However, I am sure that B&NES Highways Dept don’t see it that way.
Because of this dangerous crossing I have recently ridden out of Hatfield Road, to the right, on to the path on the North side of Wellsway, which means I do not have to cross the dual carriageway at this very dangerous junction. The pathway on this side is wider than the one on the south, so better suited to share and used by even less numbers of walkers than the path on the south side.
There is no parking next to the lower part of the path, because the path is next to a bus lane and it is bordered by a high wall. The path progresses past a number of houses set back from the road frontage, most with garages cut into the hillside, with stepped access. Just a few, including Bloomfield Tennis club have drives. But because the exit from these drives is on to the busy dual carriageway, vehicles from the houses are bound to be moving slowly as they cross the path.
In any case there is no more danger to slowly moving people on bikes than to people walking. All the way up, this path is wider than the shared path on the south side of Wellsway.
A crossing can then be made on to the south side path if the rider wants to go to Combe Down via the shared path. However, there is no reason why a rider should not continue to the top of Wellsway on the north side. I have not looked at whether the north side path can continue as a shared path through to the Odd Down Circuit, or whether there can be an earlier entrance to the circuit, so there is more work to be done here.
Crossing the Dual Carriageway to the north side can be managed by the – staged crossing shown in the photo below.
This is much safer than crossing on the road at the Devonshire Arms and the continuation of the path to the turning to Combe Down at the top of the Wellsway is safe for inexperienced cyclists.
There are alternatives here – either continuing a ride towards Combe Down by crossing or continuing on the north Side of Wellsway or to access the Odd Down Circuit on the dangerous main road.
Whatever, the north side provides a longer shared path with a safer crossing to the south side than at any other point. There is a slight problem with vision to traffic coming down Wellsway here, but the removal of one parking space would solve this problem. (see photo).
I do believe that this is a safer route to Combe Down than venturing on to south side carriageway as long as access comes from Bloomfield and Hatfield Roads.
I do think that it is worth investigating whether a safe connection can be made with the Odd Down Circuit from Wellsway, rather than having to ride the full length of Bloomfield Road.
I would welcome views about the feasibility of this as a route to Odd Down. This will not apply to those confident cyclists who regularly ride the Wellsway on the carriageways. It is an attempt to increase the segregation from traffic on a path that is used very little by walkers for the benefit of less confident and experienced riders.