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Cyclists welcome 24-mile cycleway along HS2 as West Midlands mayor aims to enable cycling and walking as “natural first choice for short journeys”

The construction roads and maintenance pathways of HS2 are to be repurposed for a “continuous, high-quality active travel route”

Cyclists have applauded plans for a 24-mile cycleway along HS2 along Birmingham, Solihull, Warwickshire and Coventry, to be built by repurposing HS2’s construction roads and maintenance paths, after they were announced by the West Midlands Mayor last evening.

The news for the cycleway plan was first reported by The Guardian, after the newspaper said it had seen a letter by Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, to the government-owned HS2 Ltd, in which he described it as a “no-brainer” for health, wellbeing and economic growth in the region.

Following the news, Street shared the letter, co-penned by him and Adam Tranter, the West Midlands' cycling and walking commissioner and also addressed to Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport, on social media platform X, formely Twitter. He wrote: “The HS cycle route is important to the region to provide safe and sustainable transport links in local communities and reduce severance for active travel modes.

“The route would also support local connectivity within Growth Zones in Birmingham East and Solihull, as well as the Investment Zone in Birmingham's Knowledge Quarter.

“HS2 must not only [be] a superb new train service but also an enabler of the shift towards low-carbon travel, enabling the Government's vision that cycling and walking is the natural first choice for short journeys. This is possible in the West Midlands; not just in cities but towns and rural areas too.”

The news has been described as a “win” and a “great idea” by many cyclists and active travel campaigners on social media.

> MPs ask Transport Minister to build HS2 cycleway in full

Paul Wright wrote on Twitter: “A cycle way that goes through Birmingham Airport, through Birmingham along the route (Bromford, Castle Vale, & Washwood Heath) into the city centre would be incredible and mean HS2 is benefiting the neighbourhoods along the route. Good for access to jobs & good for wellbeing.”

Katy Rodda said: “Now that will be a win! Hooking up with urban centres, yes, HS2 paying for decent link routes too? More people are likely to use part of it to get to the nearest hubs rather than the route end to end route? (And here cycle and long-distance rail planning diverges!)”

And Cheryl Law added: “This is great news! Have cycled from Balsall Common to Bham quite a few times and the options are either terrifying (fast/busy roads) or totally unsuitable (bumpy/muddy canal or dark lanes) Worst bit is the last few miles before the city centre. Terrifying.”

Stop HS2, Tour of Britain 2014 (djim on Flickr, licensed via CC BY 2.0 DEED

Stop HS2, Tour of Britain 2014 (djim on Flickr, licensed via CC BY 2.0 DEED)

It is estimated that the returns on every £1 spent for the urban Birmingham section of the HS2 cycleway is going to be between £4.7 and £14.8, and for Jenilworth and Coventry to be between £2.44 and £7.05.

Work on the path is expected to start by 2027, and while there is no current estimate on the total cost to build the route, funding is likely to come in part from city region sustainable transport settlements, which for the West Midlands will total £2.46bn, at least £250m of which will be allocated to active travel. Regional and local authorities, as well as developer and HS2 levies, levelling up and other direct funding will also contribute.

In June 2015, then cycling minister Robert Goodwill told that a cycle network would be built around HS2. He said it wouldn't be the long distance cycle track suggested by Boris Johnson but a network of routes developed from existing bridleways and footpaths.

The government later published a study which looked at the possibility of building a national cycleway along the route of the HS2 railway. However, a cover note suggested it would be down to local authorities whether anything actually got built.

The plans around the route had been left astray since then, with the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group members Ruth Cadbury and Lilian Greenwood asking then Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson in 2021 to commit to building a cycleway along the full route of HS2.

The two MPs argued that the environmental, public health and economic case for such a project is clear. They wrote: “A cycleway will help build rural cycle networks and also bring new opportunities for both domestic and international tourism.”

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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eburtthebike | 4 months ago

Something useful coming out of the disaster that is HS2? 

Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

mattw | 4 months ago
1 like

TBH - speaking as someone from north Notts, and a not irregular Tory voter (in my defence there were not many decent alternatives) - this just makes me feel ever-more contemptuous of lying c*nts like Mark Harper.

If the Conservatives had not welched on their promises wrt HS2 we could all have had these benefits.

But no - they are spending the Midlands' and the Norths' future transport facilities on tactical repairs to roads in the South.

They can go f*ck themselves in the dustbin of history as far as I am concerned.

mikewood | 4 months ago

If you have been anywhere near the sites South of Solihull you'd have seen lots of tarmac roads being created. It'll probably be cheaper to leave them in after construction than it would be to reinstate what was there previously.

Of couse there would be issues where it goes underground but surely that's not insurmountable with some thought and support

peted76 | 4 months ago

Although I welcome any cycle paths.. the way this is worded sounds to me like it's going to end up a lot of very small disjoined paths.. along 'some' parts of the route where the local authorities can be arsed.. and not the traffic free mecca I'd hoped for.

All we really wanted was a path to literally follow the train tracks.. I quite literally dreamed about getting on the route at from Leamington and cycling 70 odd miles to London for a coffee. Or nip 30miles to Birmingham and back. Can you imagine how many people would use the route to 'commute by bike' into London if it was safe and car free..  



Dnnnnnn replied to peted76 | 4 months ago
peted76 wrote:

Can you imagine how many people would use the route to 'commute by bike' into London if it was safe and car free..  

The HS2 route in London will be mostly in tunnels. Most of the Chiltern stretch too. HS2 will spend more time underground than many Tube trains...

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