The best cycle infrastructure in the West Midlands?

29 Mar


As you can see, this cycle track that runs in front of the shops in Shirley seems to hit all the right points. Made of good quality tarmac and clearly marked, it is clearly and fully segregated from both the busy A road to the right and the thriving pedestrianized area to the left. 
The crossing points for pedestrians are raised above the cycle track itself and clearly marked with symbols and bollards (the bollards themselves aren’t really that hard to navigate around, the space either side is decent enough for most bikes).
While cycle parking is pretty limited, the stands themselves are pretty well placed: Away from both pedestrian and cyclist desire lines.
And there is more than enough space to add more to cope with demand if it should arise. However as you may have noticed there is a distinct lack of cyclists making use of this facility, and it is actually pretty rare to see a bike locked up here. The reason for this, I would guess, is the location of this particular piece of infrastructure. Situated along the four lane Stratford Road this shopping street is hemmed in by busy roads and large junctions, the northern end is made largely impassable to cyclists by this intersection:

 With two lanes going in each direction, this crossroad is far from pleasant to cycle through (as i can personally attest to, I travel through this junction on a weekly basis and it is definitely not for the faint-hearted). And to the south of the street, a slightly less intimidating junction :

(still far from somewhere you’d cycle through with your kids).
So while this piece of infrastructure gets an A for safety, it fails on being both continuous and convenient. The roads surrounding this area are as a rule pretty busy and what little cycling infrastructure that does exist, mostly consists of half-hearted pavement infrastructure (as covered previously). However what this short cycle track does show, is exactly what planners can do if they put their mind to it. If this standard of infrastructure was made commonplace i’m pretty sure that a decent amount of the population would feel safe enough to cycle regularly.

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