Warwickshire-wide cycle network coming to county

Campaigners outside Shire Hall this morning who wanted a better cycle network for Warwickshire
Campaigners outside Shire Hall this morning who wanted a better cycle network for Warwickshire

Plans to create a new Warwickshire-wide cycle network linking several towns in the county with safer routes are set to become reality.

At a meeting held today (Tuesday), Warwickshire County Council agreed to support a motion to create a fully-costed strategy for a cycle network to be built from 2019 to 2022.

The motion was proposed by Cllr Jenny Fradgley (Lib Dem, Stratford West) and seconded by Cllr Jonathan Chilvers (Green, Leamington Brunswick).

Although the motion was tweaked slightly by the Conservative majority, Cllr Chilvers said he was very pleased with the outcome.

He added: “I’m delighted that our joint Green-Lib Dem motion on cycling has been passed. Today’s successful motion means building safe off road cycle routes will now be taken seriously.

“We were basically trying to get the full council to say ‘this is important’ rather than flying by the seat of our pants all the time.

“It’s just been lip service for years and years, but never actually putting our money where our mouth is.”

The Greens and the Lib Dems had been building up to submit the motion for around six months.

The motion was drawn up off the back of government guidelines suggesting local authorities should be spending £10 per person per year on cycling. In Warwickshire County Council’s case this would equal £5.5 million per year.

Cllr Chilvers claimed the county council was spending just 86p per person per year, and said the Greens and Liberal Democrats had shown that the council could afford to spend £5.5 million at the budget in February.

Although that was turned down, their next plan was putting forward the motion to get the council to consider it in future budgets.

Up until last week, Cllr Chilvers was doubtful the council would agree to support it.

But he felt the county council decided to pass the motion thanks to several groups lobbying for a better cycle route in Warwickshire, such as charity Cycling UK and the Stratford Cycle Forum.

Now the motion has been passed, a more detailed strategy will be created and is expected to be published in October.

Cllr Chilvers felt that this was a great first step in improving provision for cyclists all over Warwickshire.

He used the example of the route from Kenilworth to Leamington as one that could be improved.

Currently, cyclists have to pedal down the A452 right next to vehicles travelling at 40mph to travel between the two towns.

The road is single carriageway, meaning drivers either have to slow right down before carefully passing the cyclist or try a risky overtake on the wrong side of the road.

Cllr Chilvers added: “Lots of people tell me they want to cycle for short journeys but they want it to be safe and accessible.

“Kenilworth to Leamington is a bad route for increasing car traffic as well as being bad for cyclists.

“Safe and enjoyable cycle routes for short journeys to school and work improve our day-day lives and will reduce congestion for when we do need to use our cars.

“This is about making it better for everybody - it’s not just about trying to stop people using their cars.”