Frequently asked questions

I drive on Bridge Road regularly, can I still use it during the construction work?

Yes, for almost all the time this will be possible although the road has to be reduced to 2 lanes only (one in each direction) to give room for the construction work, so please allow extra time for your journey.

There will be some road closures at weekends or at night-time, but these will be advertised in advance on temporary signs alongside the road, or why not follow our Highway Operations Control Centre Twitter account for regular updates?

You can expect numerous changes to the layout of the 2 traffic lanes throughout the works, so please stay alert and follow the layout of traffic cones and instructions on temporary signage at all times.

I walk or cycle on Bridge Road regularly, can I still use it during the construction work?

Yes, all the time. Even when we have road closures (see similar question here) there will be a safe route for pedestrians or cycles available through the construction site. Please be careful though, you can expect numerous changes to the layout and level of the cycle route throughout the works, so please stay alert. There may be some localised areas where there are pinchpoints or where signs advise you to dismount due to the site conditions.

I often park just off Bridge Road in order to walk or cycle the various trails along the canal and river, can I still use these car parks?

The gravel area alongside Countess Wear Bridge will unfortunately not be available for public car parking during the works, our Contractor needs the use of this area in order to build the new bridge structure. The area around the boat club will be unaffected by the works.

Why is the toucan crossing at the Canal Bridges being moved and why is it delaying cyclists further by making it a staggered crossing?

A safety assessment has concluded that when the second southbound traffic lane is provided across the Swing Bridge, the existing crossing would be less safe for cyclists, because drivers may be paying attention to other factors, such as the metal side walls of the Swing Bridge, or another vehicle that may be alongside them.

These other factors may cause distraction meaning that drivers may be less able to register either the traffic signals changing colour or people already on the crossing in front of them. So other locations for the crossing were investigated.

The new position will be on the other side of the Canal and Bridge Office, however due to the curvature of the northbound lane, and the width of the grassy island which would extend a single crossing, it means that the toucan is being split into 2 staggered crossings.

Cyclists will benefit from greater space at each side of the crossings allowing larger groups and families to gather whilst waiting for the crossing, and the connections to the cyclepaths in the river valley are being improved.

Why doesn’t the Council get rid of the cycle crossing by the Canal Bridges and put a subway in?

The retention of the ‘at-grade’ toucan crossing is intended to cater for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Subways require 3m headroom, have to be at least 1m below the carriageway to avoid services and therefore would have ramps leading into them at least 60m long on each side. Unfortunately we do not have the available space to construct this. We also know that subways are not popular with pedestrians and cyclists, due to the effect of level changes and personal safety issues amongst other concerns.

The project includes relocating the crossing to the northern side of the canal, and due to the existence of the wide grassed central island here, this means that the toucan crossing has to be staggered with a separate set of traffic signals for the northbound and southbound traffic. In effect the ‘not green’ time to vehicles will be decreased compared to the existing situation, representing a small increase in vehicle traffic capacity. In addition, the provision of the second lane southbound will reduce queue lengths.

The proposals represent the best compromise between demands for all users.

Why doesn’t the Council get rid of the cycle crossing by Glasshouse Lane and make people use the existing bridge near Countess Wear roundabout?

Glasshouse Lane and Countess Wear Road are popular cycle traffic routes which are recognised on the Exeter Cycle map.

We know that people are more likely to try and cross a road themselves if a formal crossing is not located conveniently close to their ‘desire line’, but the level of traffic on Bridge Road would make it very dangerous to try to cross the road without a formal crossing.

The bridge is far enough away from the crossing location that pedestrians and cyclists are unlikely to detour to use it. Cyclists also prefer ‘at-grade’ facilities meaning they don’t have to expend all the additional effort to gain height to get above a road, only to have to drop down again. The approaches to the bridge on the Glasshouse Lane side are stepped and would need significant construction work to be able to accommodate a ‘wheeling channel’ for dismounted cyclists to wheel their bikes up the structure. However the bridge would still not be suitable for prams or wheelchairs.

Why do the signal crossing timings seem to be biased to pedestrians and cyclists, at the expense of cars?

With all crossings there is a compromise between the delays to motorists and pedestrians / cyclists.

At present the crossings react fairly quickly to pedestrians. At the busy times, traffic is very slow moving on Bridge Rd, and in particular northbound traffic is often unable to move because of the queue in front of it. In these circumstances there is no point in holding pedestrians, so the signals change in their favour so that they can cross.

Even when the roads are quieter, northbound traffic stopped at a crossing will often catch up with the back of a queue further along Bridge Road, so the overall journey time, or delay to motorists, is generally unaffected by stopping at the crossing.

It is anticipated that when the widening scheme is complete the pedestrians crossings will operate in a similar manner to the way they do at present. Southbound delays to motorist will be reduced as traffic will be moving in two lanes, northbound the delays to motorists will be unaffected, as will delays to pedestrians.

Why can’t we have traffic signals at the junction of Glasshouse Lane to make it safer and stop drivers cutting‘’ through the estate from Topsham Road to Bridge Road?

The aim of the Bridge Road scheme is to reduce congestion on Bridge Road outbound, introducing signals with a phase for Glasshouse Lane may actually increase congestion. To discourage (via signals) the use of the estate as a short cut, the aim would be to hold the Glasshouse Lane signals on red for a reasonable time, enough to discourage through-traffic from using the estate.

However if you hold people on a red light for no reason (say if the toucan had been triggered twice in close succession) there is a risk that some will simply drive through the red signal. When the whole scheme is complete, Topsham Road, Countess Wear roundabout, Bridge Road should be a more attractive, quicker, route than Glasshouse Lane.

There has been previous consultation regarding a closure of the Glasshouse Lane junction with Bridge Road, but this was not popular with residents of the estate.

Why are drivers now unable to turn left into Countess Wear Road?

Prior to the scheme, drivers could turn left and access a very short section of Countess Wear Road before reaching ‘No Entry’ signs placed diagonally across the road before Roche Gardens. The ‘No Entry’ signs were to prevent Exeter-bound drivers cutting through the residential estate of Countess Wear Road, to try and avoid the roundabout. The ‘No Entry’ signs were originally placed at this location so that access off Bridge Road was available for the commercial site which previously existed at this location – first as a transport café, then the ‘Taxfile’. However, there have been numerous complaints that the ‘No Entry’ signs were being ignored, so now that the site has been redeveloped into new housing, the traffic restriction is being amended so that no vehicles can turn left from Bridge Road. The junction will be reconstructed to prevent vehicles turning left off Bridge Road, and this gives the advantage of providing more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Bridge Road used to have 4 lanes many years ago – why was it reduced to 3 in the first place?

The fourth lane was removed originally in order to be able to provide better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Devon County Council is always seeking to achieve a shift in travel modes away from car usage and the investment in pedestrian and cycle facilities contributes to this. The fixed width of many of the structures on the Bridge Road corridor meant that the 4th traffic lane originally had to be sacrificed in order to provide the pedestrian/cycle routes. Now that Bridge Road has reached its limit in terms of vehicular traffic capacity, more width needs to be provided by new structures or structural extensions, in order to create enough room to get the 4th lane back whilst further enhancing the pedestrian and cycle provision.