Gaol Ferry Footbridge and Cycleway is a suspension bridge built in 1934 to provide access over the ‘New Cut’ in Bristol Harbour which was dug in 1804. The footpath and cycleway provides access over the River Avon joining the South of Bristol, to the City Centre. The bridge is around 58m long and 3m wide and was covered with a non-slip timber surface.

The Problem

Inspections by Bristol City Council bridge engineers indicated that some of the deck timbers were weathering and had rotted excessively. In addition, the timber anti slip panels providing the walking surface were reported to be softening due to water ingress. As a consequence, it was decided to carry out a full maintenance scheme to repair/replace all defective items.

cycle lane


Bristol City Council were determined to source an alternative decking system which was more resilient to weathering, thereby reducing further maintenance costs. In addition, they were also looking for a durable cycle sign to print onto the panels that would indicate where the cyclists should ride. A painted sign was not considered suitable as this would ultimately wear away due to the high volume of traffic and general weathering.


Following an investigation into products available on the market, Polydeck Ltd were contacted regarding their GRIPFAST load bearing anti slip panels. Manufactured from a durable and lightweight composite and incorporating a near diamond hard anti slip surface, the GRIPFAST panels were the ideal solution for Bristol City Council since they met all the Council’s design criteria in that:

  1. GRIPFAST load bearing panels provided a load bearing decking to 5KN/M2
  2. The panels are proven to be more resilient than timber decking
  3. The panels provide a lighter deck weight than the existing timber decking. Loading issues were important because Gaol Ferry is a lightweight suspension bridge
  4. The panels provide an integral anti slip surface which meet UK guidelines for slip resistance
  5. The panels have a design life of 30 years
  6. An integral colour-constant white cycle symbol was set into the anti slip panel to produce a wear resistant cycle sign

The load bearing anti slip panels were fitted within a 2 week period and were reported to be easy to handle and fix. They could easily be cut to fit around the central hand rail posts which run the length of the bridge.

View the diverse range of non slip solutions from Polydeck.