On Thursday, 6 May there are elections for West Midlands Combined Authority mayor.
Cycle campaigners have been busy contacting candidates, asking them to “sign up” to a pledge for an active travel revolution. What the candidates were asked and their responses are here.
There’s interviews of the main candidates on their attitude to cycling as well.
If you like what a candidate says, please tell them so by email or Twitter. The Birmingham Cycling Campaign (Pushbikes) have listed the email addresses and twitter accounts at the end of this blog post
Coventry City Council, Solihull Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council are holding elections too, so if you might want to contact candidates there as well. Link to the answers that candidates for Warwickshire County Council gave to cycle campaigners.
Note district councils don’t have control of highways.
When responding to the Council, you may wish to support some modifications to the plans:
Installing wands to protect cyclists on the “contra-flow” cycle lane along the Fletchamstead Highway service road north-west of Charter Avenue and at the Charter Avenue / Cannon Hill Road junction.
Making the “pop up” lane along Charter Avenue permanent.
Upgrading the un-signalled crossing of Lynchgate Road north of Shultern Lane. Possibly use a parallel zebra. A two stage crossing would be overkill for the sort of traffic speeds which should be aimed for.
Lighting of any path or cycleway through the wooded areas by Aldi.
A toucan crossing on Kirby Corner Road just before Lynchgate Road to provide a shorter route between the university entrance and Charter Avenue (West).
Sign-posting the route along Albany Road, Earlsdon Street and The Riddings as a way of cycling between the city centre and Lynchgate Road. It passes more homes than the Canley Ford / Kenilworth Road route. It doesn’t involve unlit woods, narrow bridges shared with pedestrians and steep gradients either.
Adam Tranter, Coventry’s Bicycle Mayor, has produced a map of what he thinks the scheme should look like.
Coventry City Council is consulting on possible improvements.
Adam Tranter, Coventry’s Bicycle Mayor, has a good grasp of the ideas under consideration.
“Foleshill Road is one of the most hostile areas in the city for cycling, walking and driving. New average speed cameras are already coming in, but through the government’s Active Travel Fund, there is now funding for a cycle lane from the city centre to just past the Lockhurst Lane junction. Combined with potential bus gates, the through traffic in the area can be much decreased and alternative transport options provided. The majority of traffic on Foleshill Road is not adding any value to the community – most are using it as a cut through to get to the M6 and/or the city centre (people should be using the A444); as such, the road is one of the worst polluted in the city.”
“The scheme’s budget will mean the council will use wands for segregation from traffic for people cycling and there will be junction safety improvements for cycling; cyclists will have priority over side roads and the route will be continuous and direct.”
The council is taking on board every consultation response, so if you’re able to support the scheme, showing it by completing the web form would be much appreciated. As Adam puts it “A lot of people drive through the area and will be frustrated that they will no longer be able to do so. Therefore, it’s important to make sure there are as many positive voices as possible.” If people are to switch from car to bicycle, it’s important that the routes are direct and cyclists are not held up by long delays at traffic signals. People walking shouldn’t have a long wait to cross Foleshill Road either.
Adam also writes that “public realm improvements including parklets (mini seating areas in the space of parking bays) as well as general improvement of the shopping areas should be implemented as soon as possible.”
There’s a petition in support. It can be signed by a person of any age who lives, works or studies in Coventry.
The proposals are very good, but a number of small points could be made:
Brinklow Road / Clifford Bridge Road junction.
The three 90 degree turns needed to access the Business Park path via the cycleway are all very tight. So many cyclists wishing to access the business park from Binley Road will leave the cycleway before the Clifford Bridge Road junction, at the access to St. Bartholomew’s church. Consequently, a dropped kerb on the east side of Brinklow Road at the access to the Business Park would be welcome.
Bridgeacre Gardens (south)
The cycleway will be on the west side of Clifford Bridge Road, with priority over Mill Lane and Bridgeacre Gardens. The pedestrian/cyclist crossing will be at pavement height.
Clifford Bridge Road lay-bys.
Along this part of Clifford Bridge Road, the proposal is to narrow both the traffic lanes and the lay-bys (on both sides of the road) to make space for the cycleway.
Bridgeacre Gardens (north)
Cyclists sharing space with pedestrians only works when the people are not allowed to drive!
The existing, 170cm wide, pedestrian bridge over the Sowe is to be used for both walkers and cyclists.
The cycleway crosses to the west side of Clifford Bridge Road at a point between the entrance to Tesco and Dorchester Way. Will the signals detect cyclists, so that they don’t always have to wait to cross?
At both ends of Dorchester Way, there will be a “Zebra” type crossing, designed for parallel use by pedestrians and cyclists. Will visibility be good enough for motorists to stop?
The cycleway will end at the entrance to the hospital grounds, although changes will be made to make it easier for cyclists to cycle between Farren Road and the hospital.
Despite the gloom and doom about the pandemic, it really is an extremely exciting time with so many local developments in the local infrastructure, much of which I can see you have on the website.
Also worthy of mention are:
1 CANNON PARK CYCLEWAY
This is currently out for consultation as the attached scans distributed locally. It includes the Charter Ave pop-up path already on the net which will become permanent if the project goes ahead.
2 THE SUSTRANS LIAS LINE – NATIONAL CYCLE NETWORK ROUTE 41.
This exciting project will include a sealed surface path on the Leamington – Rugby disused railway line between the Fosse Way and Birdingbury Station, and the branch line from near the Fosse as far as the Blue Lias pub east of Long Itchington. The project has funding and is currently awaiting planning permission. This link has moe details –
Concerns have been expressed about the temporary alterations to the Kenilworth Greenway due to HS2. See this facebook post and also this one.
The temporary paths will probably be in place until HS2 is in operation, perhaps 2030 or later. Once HS2 is in operation, a permanent replacement will be opened parallel to HS2, on its south side between Burton Green and Berkswell station.
Make any comments you have on the “temporary” path between Kenilworth and Hob Lane to Warwick District Council. Search for reference W/20/1978/HS2
For the “temporary” path between Hob Lane and Berkswell station, send comments to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. Search for reference PL/2020/02821/HS2DIS
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
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:
Change use of Westwood Business Park to residential. Student accommodation would be ideal.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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): firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.