Recently Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) named the West Midlands Cycling Network – the “Starley Network“.
The green lines on the map below show Coventry’s existing cycleways:
“Fragments” would be a more apt word than “Network”. The fragments are of poor quality in two key respects:
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Shared with pedestrians
Having cyclists pass closely at speed is unpleasant for pedestrians. It deters people from walking, just as people are deterred from cycling due to fear of close passing by fast motor vehicles.
No priority over side roads
Cyclists are expected to stop at every side road junction to check left, right and over their shoulders for approaching traffic.
Cyclists have significant kinetic energy, which they lose on stopping. To get going again they must replace what has been lost by their own muscular effort. Motorists also lose significant kinetic energy when they stop, but they can replenish the loss by simply pressing the accelerator pedal.
Some cyclists will get into the habit of not stopping, as usually a car will not be approaching. Sooner or later a crash will result.
A Cycling Plan for Coventry
Two elements are needed:
- Cycleways linking every neighbourhood with every major trip destination, such as the hospitals, universities, business parks, further education colleges and the Coventry Arena. These would be segregated from both pedestrians and motor traffic.
- Neighbourhoods becoming Low Traffic. That means excluding through motor traffic. Motorists travelling from one neighbourhood to another would first drive to the nearest distributor road, drive on the distribtor road network to their destination neighbourhood and then into the destination neighbourhood itself. Cyclists would share the road with cars within the low traffic neighbourhoods, but would have motor traffic free alternatives to the distributor roads.
Cycling is not an extreme sport needing specialised clothing, but a means of urban transport which involves sharing the road with large fast moving steel objects.
After mastering control of the bicycle, cyclists must learn to position themselves correctly on the road so that their presence and intentions are clear. They need the confidence to “take the lane” on occasion. Cyclists must also anticipate the actions of motorists and act accordingly. They should not rely on motorists being any more competent, considerate or careful than they are themselves.
In the Netherlands 25% of journeys are cycled compared to 2% here. There’s room for improvement with benefits in terms of both CO2 emissions and public health.