Coventry: Where the bicycle was invented, but nearly forgotten

Adam Tranter  has made a video about Coventry’s cycling history:

In this short documentary, Adam explains the history of cycling in Coventry, and the realities of cycling in Coventry today. Comparisons to Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands are made.

The video will be shown at the opening of Culture Space Coventry’s gearing up exhibition on 12 March. The exhibition features over 80 cycles and celebrates the history, unique designs, and benefits of cycling. The exhibition will continue to 13 June, by which time it is hoped that it will be open for viewing in person at the Transport Museum, as well as for online browsing.

You can find out more about Adam here​ or follow him on Twitter

Report 2021-02

Here’s what I’ve been up to between December 2020 and February 2021:

A46 Strategic Link Road

With new housing at Kings Hill and the planned expansion of the University of Warwick, growing traffic levels between the A46 (Stoneleigh junction), and the University of Warwick are predicted to cause significantly longer journey times. Warwickshire County Council and Coventry Council are proposing that a new road be built between the A46 junction and either the A429 or to the University itself. It would be a dual carriageway, taking a width of 50 metres. I submitted an alternative suggestion:

Demand reduction for Stoneleigh Road and Gibbet Hill Road:

  1. Change use of Westwood Business Park to residential. Student accommodation would be ideal.
  2. Re-locate the University of Warwick car parking much closer to the A46 Stoneleigh junction. That would greatly reduce the number of vehicles using
    Stoneleigh Road and Gibbet Hill Road, as buses are much more efficient people movers than single occupancy cars. Cycling and micro mobility solutions for use
    between the new car parking and the campus would add flexibility.

Coventry Telegraph

Following a little controversy in the local newspaper, I had a letter published in defence of cycleways.

Hipswell Highway / The Drive

Commented on the scheme to introduce speed cushions and 20 mph speed limit. Suggested moving centre island closer to Meredith Road to make it easier for people cycling southwards along Hipswell Highway to turn right into Meredith Road.

Coventry City Centre South

Commented on outline planning application (OUT/2020/2876):

The removal of surplus car parking capacity and the end of the City Arcade and Barracks car parks are welcome steps.
It should be an aim to end the dominance of cars on the inner circulatory road in order to encourage people to use pedal cycles and micro mobility vehicles on it.

Charter Avenue

Emergency Active Travel cycleway scheme

I emailed the lead councillor for City Centre in support of the scheme following a call from Adam Tranter.  I included in the message that I considered a cycleway connecting Warwick University’s Lynchgate Rd entrance with the Charter Ave and Sir Henry Parkes Road facilities is much needed. It needs to be segregated from both pedestrians and motor traffic with priority over traffic accessing Cannon Park Shopping Centre.

Leaf lane

Missed opportunity to support a scheme for a 20 mph speed limit, chicanes and speed cushions. It’s quite an important link for cycling between east Coventry and the Stivichall Interchange (for Baginton, Cubbington and Warwick).

Links

Charter Avenue Pop Up Cycleway

As part of the Emergency Active Travel measures, a cycleway has been created on Charter Avenue, Coventry.
It takes one of the two lanes on the southern carriageway, between Fletchamstead Highway and Sir Henry Parkes Road.  flickr diagram

A request from Adam Tranter, Bicycle Mayor for Coventry

I’ve been made aware of a small number of complaints being made to the Council about the pop up cycle lane on Charter Avenue. I don’t want to give these complaints any more air time and it’s really only a handful of emails, but it’s concerning because, as you may have seen elsewhere in the country, cycle lanes have been removed because of disquiet from a noisy minority. I’d like to try and turn this into a positive conversation.

Charter Avenue was funded with the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to build using temporary materials, as quickly as possible, something to support those who normally rely on public transport and to prevent a car-based recovery during a respiratory pandemic where air pollution has been shown to increase the COVID-19 death rate.

I’d be the first person to say that it is not a flawless piece of infrastructure but it does provide protection from general motor traffic and is the start of an important network link in Coventry between the city centre and Warwick University. It has been poorly communicated, but the plan is to soon connect this cycleway with a new dedicated cycleway on Lynchgate Road providing an important connection to the University campus and the surrounding area.

The complaints about the cycle lane are based around the assumption that it “will cause” or “already causes” congestion. There is no evidence for this and it comes from the frequent misunderstanding that removing road  space will result in the same number of cars being congested within a smaller space. Whereas in fact, if you reduce capacity for cars and make other options more attractive, you can reduce motor traffic overall through traffic evaporation. We’re in winter and there is a lockdown, but the lane remains fairly well used. Every time I’ve used it, I’ve shared the journey with 3-4 other cyclists. Furthermore, the Council have confirmed to me there are no issues with the road network load in the area – so the congestion suggestion is unfounded.

Needless to say, if complaints gain momentum and the temporary cycle lane is removed, then plans to extend through to the University become unstuck. The Council would like to make the Charter Avenue cycleway permanent in time using a more detailed, high-quality and integrated design (with things like bus stop= bypasses). If the lane goes, for any reason, we lose the chance to make it permanent. Having any cycleways removed also sets a dangerous precedent in the city that could set back future cycleway plans, just as we’re starting to get momentum.

So, I need your help. Councillors only ever really receive correspondence about complaints and I would be very appreciative if you could share your support for the Charter Avenue pop up lane so we can make sure they know the community appreciates it, and would like even more.

If you live or work in Coventry, please email Cllr Patricia Hetherton, Cabinet Member for City Services (including the Highways brief): patricia.hetherton@coventry.gov.uk. Cllr Hetherton has shown real passion and commitment so far in wanting to build more cycling infrastructure and your support will help her continue to be bold.

If you also live or work in the direct vicinity of the lane, please also email your local Ward councillor. You can find them here.

It is always more powerful if the emails come in your own words, but here are some points which might be helpful:

  • Coventry is starting to build new protected cycle lanes and this is welcomed. You’d love to see more and see a genuine cycle network form.
  • Your (hopefully positive) experience of using the lane.
  • The Charter Avenue pop up bike lane is an important link and it should be extended to the university and made permanent and future proofed.
  • You have seen a huge increase in people cycling during the pandemic and the only way to lock this behaviour change in is to give people safe places to cycle.
  • The lane will, in time, help the thousands of students who travel by bike in and around Warwick University – it’s unlikely these students will write to the council but are appreciative all the same.
  • Friends and family tell you that to start cycling, they’d need to feel safe. We only stand a chance of reducing congestion and improving air quality if we give people choice.

Thanks for your support.

Adam Tranter
Bicycle Mayor for Coventry, BYCS.org


E: adam@adamtranter.com
W: www.adamtranter.com

Coventry Canal Basin Access

There’s long been a problem with getting between Coventry’s canal basin and the city centre.

Some people used the bridge between Bishop Street and Leicester Row to cross the ring road. That’s too narrow to wheel a bicycle, let alone pedal one!

In the past there was a suggestion to put a toucan crossing on the ring road itself. Or to raise the ring road surface by a metre or so and fit a subway under the roadway.

A somewhat cheaper option has now been implemented. Starting at the canal basin end,

space for cycleway has been created by taking one of the two general traffic lanes used to access the clockwise ring road.

The route then uses the existing pedestrian crossing to go under the ring road.

On the inside of the ring road, a lane has been taken from general traffic to make a two way cycleway separated from pedestrians:

 

The cycleway ends at Lamb Street.  Much of the car traffic turns left here to access the West Orchard car park.

Note the cyclist on the carriageway.  Cyclists coming from Radford Road will find it inconvenient to access the cycleway;  they may well find it easier to take the route motorists would.

 

View from the south.  Cyclists willing to access the canal basin must cross Upper Well Street to reach the new cycleway.

CoventryLive article

Binley Cycleway Phase 1

Coventry Council was (October 2020) consulting on building a Binley Road cycleway between the city centre and University Hospital. The cycleway will be segregated from both pedestrians and motor vehicles.

Phase 1 covers the 2.1 miles between the Gulson Road / Binley Road junction and the Clifford Bridge Road / Brinklow Road / Brandon Road junction.

Money has also been obtained for later phases – extending to Coventry University at one end and the hospital at Walsgrave at the other.

The council’s plans can can found at https://letstalk.coventry.gov.uk/binleycycleway. Comments will be accepted until Sunday 31 October 2020. Please complete the survey if only to say that you support the idea of cycleways segregated from both pedestrians and motor vehicles.

Overview

The existing cycle lanes were installed in the 1990’s. Judging by the pitifully low number of cyclists using them, there’s no doubt they are just not good enough.

The cycleway will be only on one side of the road with the space coming from the removal of the existing 150cm wide cycle lanes.

Key to council’s plans

Gulson Road junction

It’s pretty heavily trafficked.

The cycleway will run (approximately) through where the traffic sign currently stands. The footway and cycleway will be raised as they pass by St. George’s Road, to indicate that people walking or cycling along Binley Road have priority. There will be a pedestrian/cyclist phase at the traffic lights.

Gulson Road junction proposals – from sheet 1 of the council’s plans

Space for the cycleway will be made by shifting the car parking northwards, taking the place of the bus lane (coloured green).

As the bus lane is 310cm wide, the extra space won’t be quite enough for the cycleway (300cm) and a “open car door zone”. Can the central reservation be shifted northwards? The 150cm cycle lane on the north side of Binley Road is no longer needed.

Humber Road roundabout

The existing shared use path will be replaced by a cycleway, with a pedestrian path on its south side. The clear height difference between the cycleway and the footway should make the appearance of pedestrians or cyclists on the wrong side of the division a thing of the past.

Crossing Humber Road – from sheet 2 of the council’s plans

Stoke Green

The bus stop (and litter bin!) will be moved about 3 meters to the left and placed on a sort of island between the carriageway and the cycleway. Access from the footway via a “mini zebra” crossing.
This road will be blocked to motor traffic.
A computer generated image of the cycleway on Stoke Green
This is quite a busy junction with sometimes four or five vehicles queuing to go both in and out at peak time. Since the installation of speed cameras on this stretch (30 mph), motorists on Binley Road seem much more willing to stop to allow other drivers to exit/enter Stoke Green.
Stoke Green junction – from sheet4 of the council’s proposals
In the plans, cyclists coming from the city will be positioned just to the left of the solid white line. The cycleway will swing to the right to allow space for motorists to wait for approaching cyclists after entering the side road. Motorists waiting to enter Binley Road will also have space to wait.

Is there really enough space for the two straight-on traffic lanes and the turn right lane? At the moment outbound motorists must cross into the outbound cycle lane to get past motorists waiting to turn into Stoke Green.

Brays Lane and Bulls Head Lane

At the moment many people cycling from Brays Lane use the pedestrian refuge to turn right, the proposals don’t make that manoeuvre any easier.
As with the previous side road, there will be a Zebra crossing here, with a parallel crossing for the cycleway.
Bulls Head Lane
Bulls Head Lane / Bray’s Lane junction – from sheet 5 of the council;’s proposals

Bulls Head Lane to Biggin Hall Crescent

View eastwards from filling station exit
The parking on the south side of the road will be shifted northwards.The width currently used by the cycle lanes will be used for the cycleway. So motorists entering and leaving the filling station or cricket club car park should have a good view of what’s coming on the cycleway and give way.

But won’t motorists be too interested looking for a gap in oncoming traffic to worry about cyclists coming from behind or front? Suppose a parked high sided vehicle obstructs the view?

There needs to be enough room for the unexpected opening of car doors as well as the cycleway and footway.

Biggin Hall Crescent will be made exit only for motor vehicles. It will be legal for people on cycles to both leave and enter.. There will be traffic lights as well.

The cycleway switches from the south side of Binley Road to the north here

Biggin Hall Crescent junction
From Coventry Council’s consultation document, sheet 6.

Biggin Hall Crescent to Momus Boulevard

A computer generated image of the cycleway at Raleigh Road.

Raleigh Road will be blocked for motor vehicles. People on pedal cycles will be able to legally leave and enter.

A significant proportion of the traffic turns left here (40%?)

With the new traffic signals at Biggin Hall Crescent there will be two sets in short succession. Will they be synchronised? Will cyclists wanting to go straight on be held up by a constant stream of left turning traffic?

Church Lane junction
From Coventry Council’s consultation document, sheet 7

The proposals show the cycleway replacing the footway on Binley road’s north side. Wouldn’t it be better to use Momus Boulevard? It’s a very quiet road as it’s a cul-de-sac. 100% car free cycle routes are impossible – people have to get from their homes to the cycleway!

Perhaps the money saved by using Momus Boulevard (moving kerbs is expensive) could be diverted to making the nearby routes more cycle friendly? Cyclists will need to use such routes to access the new cycleway.

Church Lane to Brindle Avenue

The main points:

  • Closure of Anthony Way link between Momus Boulevard and Binley Road
  • Cycleway replaces footway on Binley Road’s north side (I think it would be better to use Momus Boulevard and Swinburne Avenue)
  • Bus stops moved out, to a position between cycleway and carriageway, with “zebra” crossings over cycleway
At Bromleigh Drive, the cycleway will go behind the traffic waiting to enter Binley Road. Wouldn’t be easier if the cyclists used Momus Boulevard and Swinburne Ave, with traffic on those roads (cycles or motor vehicles) having priority over Bromleigh Drive?
Bromleigh Drive junction
From Coventry Council’s consultation document, sheet 9.

The kerbline on the north side of Binley Road is to be moved south. 3 metres?

Eastbound, the point where the single general traffic lane is increased to two lanes will be moved closer to the Brindle Road traffic lights. The point where the eastbound carriageway is expanded to three lanes will also be moved eastwards, closer to the Hipswell Highway junction. That space was created as a bus lane a few years ago and subsequently given over to general traffic.

Presumably cyclists from the city centre, who want to turn into Brindle Ave, will exit the cycleway just past Bromleigh Drive and then use the general traffic lanes to make the right turn. Pity that currently the signals do not seem able to detect cyclists!

Brindle Avenue junction – from Coventry Council’s consultation document, sheet 9

Presumably cyclists from the east, who want to turn into Brindle Ave, will use the Toucan crossing to make the turn.

Brindle Avenue to Hipswell Highway

Traffic queuing on city (west) side of Hipswell Highway / Allard Way junction
About 100-150cm will be taken from the grass verge to provide the cycleway. A new verge will be planted between the cycleway and carriageway further west (up the slope).
Hipswell Highway / Allard Way junction – from Coventry Council’s consultation document, sheet 11

Will the approaching cyclists be detected before they arrive at the junction and taken account off? Or will the cyclist phase be fixed? Or only generated if a cyclist stops and presses a button?

I’m often surprised at the number of cyclists crossing between the footway on the west of Allard Way and Hipswell Highway. Could this movement be made easier? A cycleway on the west side of Hipswell Highway would be irrelevant.

Constructing a cycleway on the west of Allard Way between Binley Road and Second Avenue would be good. Coventry council made plans to build a cycle path between Yew Close and Allard Way (near railway bridge), alongside the river, in about 2007. Could these be revived to complete a link along Allard Way? The link between Yew Close and Ashdown Close could be improved (anti motorcycling barriers revised) to provide a link between the Binley Cycleway and Ernesford Grange / Willenhall.

Hipswell Highway to Princethorpe Way

About half the space for the cycleway will be taken from the verge and the rest from carriageway.
Binley Road at River Sowe bridge
Binley Road – 100m west of Post Office
The cycleway will use the lay-by space.

Given that there are shops nearby, there may be a problem of vehicles parked on the footway or cycleway. Perhaps bollards along the cycleway’s kerb would provide a solution,

The kerb will be moved 1-2 meters to the right, the bus shelter will be moved close to the new kerbline and the cycleway will go behind the bus shelter.
Bus stop “Binley Rd Post Office”
Tree just east of “Binley Rd Post Office” bus stop. Proposed to fell and replace with another closer to the houses. Tree on approach to Princethorpe Way junction. Proposed to fell and replace with another closer to the houses.
Little help is proposed for people cycling to/from the Ernestford Grange area; the estate to the left in the image.

This limits the potential for hospital workers living in the area to switch to cycling their commutes.

Princethorpe Way to Clifford Bridge Road

Princethorpe Way junction. From – from sheet 15 of the council;’s proposals
One lane from the other side of the road will be removed to allow space for the cycleway on the left (north) side.

Brandon Road junction

From sheet 16 of the council’s proposals

Clifford Bridge Road junction

From sheet 17 of the council’s proposals

The facility on the east side of Brinklow Road appears to be shared use. That’s against the latest Department of Transport recommendations. It limits the possibility of using Harry Weston Road to access the shopping area and housing estate to the east (Skipworth Road).

Coundon Cycleway – Sep 2020 update

Here’s a report from Adam Tranter on the current status of the Coundon Cycleway which is subject to both ‘For’ and ‘Against’ campaigns!

Hi All,

I wanted to share what I think is an exciting update on the Coundon cycleway. I discussed with officers today who have provided an update on the designs after consultation ahead of a council meeting on Monday.

The meeting will discuss the “anti” Coundon petition as well as the “pro” one (which has considerably more signatures) and give a general project update. I am told that everybody (except for Cllr Glen Williams, who thinks the consultation has been rushed – despite a record response rate) is totally committed and behind the project and it will pass with no problem. Ian Court who set up the pro petition has been invited to speak at the meeting also.

Cllr Patricia Hetherton, the Cabinet Member responsible, is particularly enthusiastic about the plans and I met to discuss with her the week before last. Therefore I see the meeting on Monday as more of a formality because of the petitions raised than a debate.

It also means the revised designs are now available. I have had these checked independently by a leading active travel planner at the start of the consultation and again now, who said “The team should be rightly commended for their work because this is shaping up to be up there as one of the best UK projects.”

During the consultation, I suggested to the Council that they should adopt “Dutch style” entrances (continuous footway and cycleway with level change for vehicles) to make doubly clear pedestrian and cycle route priority, reduce speed and – in some cases – close additional side roads to reduce through traffic. I am pleased that these have been fully taken on board and the new drawings now include Dutch-style entrances, the first for Coventry and a rarity in the UK. We also have what I believe are Coventry’s first parallel zebra crossings; zebras that you can also cycle over without dismounting; these work well in Waltham Forst and driver compliance is high.

(A Dutch-style entrance)

I’m aware the route is short but this will be the first dedicated and high quality segregated cycle route in Coventry. The same design principles will be applied to the Binley route and I hope that with support from us all, we can build on the appetite for additional high-quality routes and start to build a genuine network.

One interesting thing is following the initial plans, more side roads have been “cut off” from the main roads, making for more pleasant neighbourhood roads. This has come straight from the politicians and I believe there will be increased appetite for low traffic neighbourhood schemes in future. It’s something I’ve been educating members about and banging the drum for as low-cost interventions that can have a big impact.

I would like Cllr Hetherton to have as much positive feedback as possible thanking her and officers for the great work so far. If you agree, you could drop a short message to patricia.hetherton@coventry.gov.uk thanking her for her support and that you’re excited to see the Coundon route progressing. I think it’s important that when Councillors stand up for cycling – even with some public disquiet – that they’re given confidence and reward to do so again.

As background, I am attaching:

– A Cabinet Member report on the scheme

– Appendix A – Scheme Details

– Appendix B – Consultation Summary

Now – not everything is perfect on the cycling front but I think we are making progress. I am on at the Council to accelerate the pop up cycle routes which have still not started, for example. 

I also joined a webinar on the new Station Masterplan and have set up an urgent follow up meeting with the Council to go through the cycling provision. While the entrance towards Greyfriars Green is becoming increasingly friendly for active travel; the entrance from Warwick Road is not conducive to getting people visiting by active travel at all; some of this is down to the attitude of Network Rail on cycling between the bus interchange and the main station – which is 6m wide but will be “no cycling”. I’m working to change this.

Here’s a brief update on other things on at the moment, from the Council:

We’re expecting a decision on Tranche 2 EATF regional bid soon, which includes segregated cycle routes along Foleshill Road, Charter Avenue and the first part of the regional LCWIP route from the hospital to the city centre. The consultation on the main Binley Road section is due to commence this month.

With regard to the remaining Tranche One schemes, Government only confirmed the funding allocations for those schemes on 26th June. Since then, we have been working on finalising the designs and procuring the materials required such as barriers and kerbing.

The pop-up cycle route linking the city centre with the Canal Basin across the ring road via Upper Well Street is soon to start on site.

We have also secured supplementary funding for further schemes around the University of Warwick. Improvements to the route via Canley Ford are on site currently and a pop-up route along Charter Avenue is to follow. Although not EATF, we have a major improvement to the canal towpath underway at present too. 

Thanks,

Adam Tranter

Bicycle Mayor for Coventry, BYCS.org

Council report September 2020 2020-09-07 Cabinet Member Report Coundon Cycleway