In a huge boost for cycling in Solihull, plans were approved last night to progress with the construction of three brand new cycle lanes. Following public consultation earlier in the year, the new routes will link the A34 Stratford Road corridor via Cranmore Boulevard to Sears Retail Park into the town centre via Blossomfield Road, Knowle to the town centre through Brueton Park and Meriden Village to Millisons Wood.
The new dedicated cycle lanes, designed to enhance cycling opportunities in Solihull, form part of the Active Travel Fund (ATF), established by the Department for Transport (DfT). Following a successful funding submission, approximately £1m has been secured from DfT to finance the three cycle lanes, of which £200k is from SMBC funding along with a borough wide cycle parking scheme.
Despite strict COVID restrictions at the time, the project involved extensive consultation which took place over February and March this year. The online consultation website attracted over 900 contributions, with the majority of respondents expressing support for the scheme proposals.
Council officers have carefully considered the feedback, including local concern around removing parking along Marshall Lake Road. In response officers proposed an alternative route along Cranmore Boulevard.
Recent evidence gathered through the Solihull Cycling and Walking Strategy and national transport surveys has identified safety as the key barrier to cycling. It is envisaged that introducing high-quality cycle provision will help address safety issues and enable more people to get on a bike and cycle with confidence.
With approval now secured, it is anticipated that the cycle lanes will be completed by winter 2021.
Councillor Ken Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure said:
“This is brilliant news for all road users, hopefully encouraging more people to get on a bike, both experienced and novice alike, and therefore reduce congestion along these busy stretches of road. By upgrading our cycling infrastructure, we’re hoping to help positively change travel behaviour and give people real alternatives to get around Solihull by using sustainable active travel. As well as the obvious health benefits associated with cycling, encouraging people to leave the car at home helps us in our goal of reducing borough wide carbon emissions to net zero by 2041.
“It’s fantastic to see the momentum building following the adoption of our ambitious Cycling and Walking Strategy earlier in the year. The new cycle lanes will also provide a great reason to hire one of the new West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes and try out the new routes.
“The design process has once again demonstrated the value we place as a council on meaningfully engaging with residents, which has avoided potential conflicts around parking and ensured safety has been integrated into the heart of the proposals."