Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Attack on the Kenilworth Greenway

On 27 April  The Spectator magazine featured an article attacking the provision of a hard surface on the Kenilworth Greenway.

I assume that the author was complaining about the route between the A429 (Coventry/Kenilworth Road) and Berkswell station. The other new cyclist/pedestrian path, between Kenilworth's Abbey Fields and the University of Warwick, relieves traffic congestion between Kenilworth and Warwick University; some years ago Kenilworth residents firmly rejected an alternative idea of building a bus road along the route.

The author objects to the hard surface because it encourages fast cycling. She claims that time-trials are conducted on it. While it's true that many novice cyclists seem to believe that roads are only for cars, experienced cyclists know that routes shared with pedestrians are not suitable for fast cycling. The videos on the Cycling Time Trials website show where real time-trialists go.

Conveniently overlooked by the author is the access which a hard surface allows to people with walking difficulties or who feel intimidated from cycling on busy roads. There are precious few places in the Warwickshire countryside which both have a firm surface and are free from cars; so such people are excluded from enjoying the countryside. She also overlooks the fact that when the path is finished there will be an opportunity for commuters between Birmingham and Kenilworth to switch from driving to cycle+train.

Given that there are plenty of other un-surfaced paths in the area, I don't suppose most walkers would begrudge loosing a bit of mud for the benefit of the elderly, mobility scooter users and leisure cyclists. Perhaps horse riders and mountain bikers have more reason to bear a grudge, given that there is so little in the way of bridleways in Warwickshire. No doubt the author of the Spectator article feels that it would be "politically incorrect" to attack the disabled, so instead she rounds on a convenient scapegoat by exaggerating the problems caused by speeding cyclists.

Update 1 May:
Warwickshire County Council is to apply a top dressing to the path between  Crackley Bridge (over A429 - Coventry/Kenilworth Road)  and Burton Green.  This will not be enough for those who want the path to revert to mud, but it will make it unattractive to anyone attempting a time-trial.