“To build, or not to build: that is the question”
Lucy’s Mill Bridge is a popular footbridge in Stratford, England, dating from Shakespearian times, that is currently only accessible by steep steps on each side. The bridge is part of a 1.6 km Riverside Heritage Trail along the banks of the River Avon. This takes in some of Stratford’s key tourist attractions such as Holy Trinity Church which houses the grave of Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway, as well as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It also links with the Historic Spine Trail, where Shakespeare’s school and birthplace are located.
It is a vital link to the town centre for residents of Stratford. The Friends of Lucy’s Mill Bridge have been campaigning for many years to see the bridge made fully accessible to wheelchair users, those with mobility difficulties, parents with pushchairs and strollers, and cyclists.
I’m excited that as part of the Copperleaf™ Random Acts of Delight (RAD) initiative, my colleagues and I will be providing our expertise and experience pro bono to this Operational Research Society project. We will be using Copperleaf’s C55™ Decision Analytics solution and the Copperleaf Value Framework to assess the cost and benefits of adding accessibility ramps to the existing Lucy’s Mill Bridge structure.
The Scope of the Problem
The primary aim is to carry out a cost benefit analysis to quantify the potential wellbeing, social, environmental, and economic benefits of adding the accessibility ramps. This will include consideration of any further investment that may be needed to maintain the ramps in the future. Architectural drawings for potential positioning of the ramps have already been drawn up.
I recently visited Stratford and walked the trail that Lucy’s Mill Bridge is part of. I witnessed residents crossing the bridge carrying bikes with difficulty. One family was also kind enough to share their historic experiences with three young children. Their mother explained she had to leave their double buggy at home when walking to the town centre; and in order to cross the bridge one child would be strapped to her front, one holding her hand, and one in a single pram which she would have to carry up and down the bridge.
The Friends of Lucy’s Mill Bridge have already collected data such as population data and foot traffic across the bridge. The first step will be to analyse this data and to determine if and what further information is required to complete the cost and benefits analysis. This will involve engagement with local tourist organisations as well as local and district councilors.
Copperleaf is proud to donate our time and skills to help with this project and we are excited to see what we can accomplish. Further updates will be provided as the project progresses!