On 6 February, the Coventry Council planning committee was expected to take a decision on a proposal to increase the traffic handling capacity of the access to the Jaguar Business Park at Whitley.
Local campaigners influenced the plan, which was only offering only marginal improvements for motoring and increased the risk to cyclists and pedestrians, as well as adding up to three and a half minutes to journey times. The amended plan which is considered a significant improvement by local campaigners, will mean much safer conditions for all as, it will include paths on both sides, not just one.
Unfortunately, the case in Coventry is not an isolated case. Road planning decisions that ignore the Department for Transport policy on cycling are still prevalent in many places, despite assurances from the government that all new roads should be 'cycle proofed '. CTC has long held the view that when changes to roads and junctions are being undertaken it is the most economical time to ensure that high quality infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians is included.
In the case of the Whitley Bridge Scheme, not only did the originally proposed changes make the journey more time-consuming and inconvenient for walkers and cyclists, it would have also forced them to cross traffic coming into the park an additional two times, compared to the current single crossing. Local CTC campaigners, and the Cycle Coventry Advisory Group, were successful in lobbying councillors to make the plans better for cycling and walking.
Several alternatives had been suggested which would comply with the national policy, including a grade-separated crossing that would mean cyclists would not have to wait to cross the road.
This scheme will make crossing the A444 longer, slower and more dangerous for walkers and cyclists – whilst at the same time making driving only marginally quicker."
CTC local campaigner (when speaking of the original scheme)
Roads like the A444, A45 and Coventry's ring road present major barriers to cycling across the city so when changes are agreed it is imperative that those changes consider the needs of all users. In the Whitley Bridge Scheme, planners refer to a “central storage area” in reference to a refuge for cyclists and pedestrians in the centre of the road. This language suggests that other road users were accommodated, but not prioritised.
As a national charity, CTC relies on its local member groups and representatives to make the case ensure that local authorities provide better facilities for cyclists. The Coventry scheme is one of many schemes under consideration that are failing to adequately 'cycle proof' major road schemes.