Work has started on a 6km cycleway running from the east of the city that will provide a boost to sustainable travel options in the region, enabling more people to cycle on their journeys.
The segregated cycle route will allow people to safely travel by bike from the city centre to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire via the Binley Business Park on Harry Weston Road.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board approved £8.6 million to fund the safe Binley Cycleway and work is underway.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, who is responsible for climate change, and Cllr Patricia Hetherton, who has responsibility for highways in Coventry, were joined by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Adam Tranter, West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner, recently to take a look at the initial work that has started on the cycleway.
Coventry City Council and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, have developed plans to deliver a cycle scheme that will form part of a wider 10km strategic East-West connection, linking with the Coundon Cycleway which is currently under construction.
It is designed to enable more of the thousands of people who live, work and study along this busy route to swap their car for a bike on local journeys - easing congestion, improving air quality and reducing journey times; ultimately benefitting all road users. Cycling more will also have health benefits for those doing so, and a healthier population will help to ease pressure on our Health Services.
The scheme went through two rounds of public consultation, which saw 69% of responses in favour of protected cycleways, with respondent feedback applied to the detailed designs to deliver a scheme that residents asked for.
The final scheme has the potential to increase the number of daily cycle journeys taken in this area by over 400%, greatly supporting the region-wide objective of increasing cycle journeys from 1 to 5% of all journeys by 2023.
Cllr Patricia Hetherton, said: “People always say to me that concerns about other traffic puts them off cycling.
“That’s why this is great news because the Binley Cycleway will provide a safe segregated route for cyclists. This offers an excellent solution.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle added: “We are making a really co-ordinated effort to provide more sustainable transport choices in the city.
“This cycleway is more evidence that we want to see long term improvements to our infrastructure using new technology, innovation and new road designs that accommodate all travel options.”
Adam Tranter, West Midlands cycling and walking commissioner, said: “I’m delighted to see work start on this high quality, fully protected and direct route. Connecting the city centre with a major business park and the University Hospital, this investment is for the vast numbers of people who tell us they don’t cycle but would like to do so, if it felt safer.
“We are working to make it safe and attractive enough for people to cycle short journeys or their commute and that’s what this route will offer. This is just part of a substantial change in the way we move about the region; it won’t happen overnight, but I’m pleased we’re making rapid progress with this cycleway in collaboration with Coventry City Council. This flagship route is an important building block of the Starley Network and shows our ambition for active travel.”
The £8.6m scheme has been made possible by £5.9m funding from WMCA’s Transforming Cities Fund, the DfT Active Travel Fund (tranche 2) confirmed allocations, WMCA grant contribution (£69k) and Coventry City Council funding contribution (£61k). Additional funding towards the scheme is being sought.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA Board, said: “We have set out ambitious plans for a 500-mile Starley Network of safe cycle routes and this investment demonstrates our commitment to delivering that vision.
“As safety is a key barrier preventing more people cycling along some of our busier roads, we know we need new, safe cycleways to convince more people to leave the car at home. The Binley Cycleway is a wonderful example of this in action and work is under way right now to get this delivered.
“Given our #WM2041 plans to help tackle the climate emergency, we have to convince more people to use active travel to cut air pollution.”
The first phase of the scheme runs from the edge of the city centre at Gosford Street to the Bulls Head and Empress Buildings. The Cycleway will be to the south side of the carriageway and will be finished by the end of the summer.
The cycleway to the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire will be completed in March 2023. It will form part of the 500-mile Starley Network, being delivered across the region.
To hear more from Cllr Hetherton and Cllr O'Boyle, watch the video below.