Campaigners in Warwickshire are calling for cycle lanes to be introduced as a matter of urgency to a new £27 million Tesco Extra store that officially opened in Bedworth this week, which has no provision for those wishing to access it by bicycle. They have warned that road conditions for bike riders are unsafe, but a spokesman for Tesco said the company was “disappointed” with cyclists’ criticism of the scheme.
Since work began on the project a year ago, Keith Kondaokor of Friends of the Earth says that the area has become a “no go area for cyclists,” with the road layout and volumes of traffic making conditions hazardous, reports the Coventry Telegraph.
Mr Kondakor and other members of Friends of the Earth staged a ride at the weekend on the roads surrounding the 65,000 square foot store, which also has a petrol station plus parking spaces for 518 cars. It replaces a smaller Tesco store on the same site.
Road improvements, pedestrian access and car parking, as well as the impact of the store on other local traders, were among the issues highlighted at an exhibition of plans as part of the planning process and at a public meeting last year, according to a report prepared by Signet Planning and published on the Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council website.
There was no mention of cycling, however.
“We’ve been fighting for cycle routes in Bedworth for some time now,” Mr Kondakor told the newspaper. Tesco have spent £1.1million to change the layout of the roads around the store but they haven’t done anything at all for cyclists.
“To try to cycle around here is too dangerous – the store is absolutely massive and the traffic it generates is vast. It’s especially bad at the weekends. It’s bedlam round here.
“The roads are too narrow for cyclists to go through. The work still hasn’t been completed and the pedestrian crossing has gone missing – it’s a mess.
“People are having to cycle on the pavements which we don’t agree with. It’s not safe.
“A lot more people are using their bikes now instead of driving because people don’t have the money any more and yet Bedworth is lagging behind with no cycle routes. We won’t give up the fight,” he concluded.
However, a spokesman for Tesco claimed that the new store, which has led to the creation of 145 jobs, had been well received elsewhere.
“We have been working closely with Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council to make sure this scheme is the right way forward,” he said.
“We believe we’ve helped to stop people leaving the town to shop elsewhere.
“We feel this is a great scheme and we’re disappointed with the comments made by cyclists.
“If there are problems with roads we will work closely with the council on how to improve them.
“We’ve had nothing but praise from everyone else on this scheme and we will look at addressing any issues people have about the scheme with the council.”
The store was officially opened on Monday by Dan Byles, Conservative MP for North Warwickshire and Bedworth.
Finally it is only fair to point out that other supermarket chains such as Sainsburys have also had run-ins with cycle campaigners in recent years over issues surrounding access to their stores.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.