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Poor signage, unsuitable shared space, parked cars, bollards, unnecessary crossings – all in under a mile

Two Solihull councillors will push to improve and extend a local cycle route after taking up a local resident’s challenge to ride the route.

The Solihull Observer reports that when a Shirley West resident emailed Green Party councillor Rosemary Sexton complaining about the A34 cycle route and challenging councillors to ride the route themselves, she thought it was a good idea.

After asking Ken Hawkins, the newly-appointed Conservative cabinet member for the environment and highways, to join her on a recce of the route between Union Road and Haslucks Green Road, the two discovered a host of failings that will be familiar to many a cyclist.

The two appear to have ridden in both directions, but the stretch in question is just under a mile in length.

“We agreed that the route was very badly signposted,” said Sexton. “Several times we weren’t even sure whether we were still on a cycle path, or whether it had mysteriously disappeared and become ordinary pavement.

“Where there was shared space with pedestrians, things were also very badly indicated. Sunday was quiet – but by all accounts during the week, dodging all the shoppers becomes quite a feat.

“In other places we had to watch out for parked cars in the lane and avoid bollards. Once or twice there was no obvious way to continue without getting off the bike and using a pedestrian crossing.”

Hawkins said: “I am a keen cyclist and I am keen to promote and develop more and better cycle routes because they are underused at the moment. If you have got the infrastructure there, more people will cycle.

“We want to make sure all our cycle routes are fit for purpose. Poor signage and things like that can lead to frustration.”

The two agreed that improving the cycle route – and hopefully extending it all the way down the A34 to the Blythe Valley Business Park – would have huge benefits and make it much more appealing for cyclists.

“It would encourage more people to feel comfortable leaving the car at home and taking the bike out, whether to visit the shops or the park, or as part of a route going somewhere else,” said Sexton.

Hawkins will take his concerns about the A34 path to the council and he is hopeful that Section 106 money, collected from the developers behind a number of nearby schemes, could help fund improvements.

He has also offered to go on a bike ride with any councillor concerned about a route in their ward to work out how it can be improved.

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