Monday, 20 September 2010


The Campaign for Better Transport report ranks Coventry 18th out of 19 for cycling and walking.

See Car Dependency Scorecard

Coventry Telegraph article

The least car dependent cities were Nottingham, London and Brighton and Hove. These cities have put a lot of effort into developing alternatives to the car while Luton, Peterborough & Milton Keynes come at the bottom of the list.

The position of Peterborough & Milton Keynes is no surprise. They have been designed around the car with fast roads connecting pockets of habitation. They have plenty of token cycle paths, but with distances between And B so large and the paths often being indirect and of poor quality, people don't use them. They are cycle paths designed by people who don't cycle for other people to use.

The cores of most British cities were built before the age of mass car ownership and sooner or later they get to the stage where they can't cope with the traffic. Coventry reached that stage in the 1960's and the response was to build the ring road. With the hard times Coventry has had since the 1970's traffic growth has been subdued and so Coventry's roads have managed to cope. There has been little incentive for individuals or the council to develop alternatives to the car.

Problems loom on the horizon. Jobs are always being lost, in a dynamic economy new ones are created. If they are created on the outskirts, we lose the greenbelt and create jobs which most people cannot reach except by car. The latter increases the traffic on the roads. One way forward is create jobs in the city centre, where more people can reach them on foot, by bicycle or public transport. The new Severn Trent building provides an example. Unfortunately things are not always so easy. The new Friargate development promises more jobs in the centre, but the council seems unable to come up with a plan which won't lead to a lot of traffic spilling out onto residential roads. Stoney Road, Humphrey Burton Road and Michaelmas Road at least. If not Quinton Road and Daventry Road as well.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Threat to Kenilworth Connect2 scheme (temporarily) averted

At the Warwickshire County Council (WCC) Cabinet meeting on 9th September it  was decided to defer the decision on whether to cut funding for the project.
Kenilworth councillor John Whitehouse put the case for continued funding. In the words of an email he sent:

My thanks to everyone who responded to my email on Tuesday by emailing Cllrs Farnell and Cockburn to express your support for the Connect2 Kenilworth scheme. The response was tremendous - beyond my expectations given the short timescale - and demonstrated the strength and depth of support for this project across many different sections of our local community.

I believe that your efforts bore fruit, and the immediate danger - that our project would be axed without proper debate - has been averted. At today's WCC Cabinet meeting I was able to make the case for continuing the project as planned (with the bridge) to completion, and was listened to. The upshot was that decision on whether or not to stop the project was deferred,and in the meantime we can continue to do work on the scheme.

Clearly I would have like an outright victory today, i.e. an irrevocable commitment to complete the project, but in the circumstances I think we achieved the best result we could have done. We now have a breathing space, probably of a couple of months.

There is a concern in the Cabinet that going ahead with a £400,000 bridge in these straitened times would look like an extravagance to the general public. After all, it's only for cyclists isn't it? (No it isn't - it's for pedestrians and disabled users as well, and for horse riders on other parts of the route). There seems to be a desire to complete the rest of the scheme, but why can't we settle for a toucan crossing over the Coventry Road instead?

The irony is that because Sustrans remain acutely keen for WCC to complete the scheme with the bridge as planned, they have offered extra help, but made it clear that a scheme without the bridge would no longer attract anything like the same amount of Lottery funding. In reality, if WCC wants to complete the scheme rather than leave the route part built, it will cost no more to WCC to build it with the bridge than without it!

Supporters of the scheme might think such a choice was a no-brainer, but these are difficult times and going to get worse, so public opinion cannot be ignored. Hence my belief that we need to spend the next couple of months demonstrating unambiguously the continued strength of public support for the scheme that they voted for locally in their thousands at the end of 2007. All ideas on how we can best do that would be welcomed.

Kind Regards,

John Whitehouse

Chair - Connect2 Kenilworth Steering Group