The Problem with Warwick District Council……
….is that they don’t say very much on the subject, and appear not to join up their own dots. They are the owners of the park and so should be at the forefront in sharing information.
What we can glean though is that they are investigating a safe cycling route across the park, and prefer mixed usage paths with cyclists adding to the busy area by the swimming pool. This is an extract from the Kenilworth Town Council Cycling Group Report, 7th April 2022:
“We have now had two site visits with WDC, the second one being with WCC. WDC’s preferred route still appears to be to use as much existing infrastructure as possible. Further widening and safety measures are being investigated around the swimming pool area. WDC are also seeking to engage with Historic England to understand their views about the potential route.”
Using existing infrastructure and sharing paths is of course the cheapest option, but it throws up a number of problems, or, more accurately, the same problem many times over; the likely interaction of pedestrians and cyclists.
I will assume the main path from Bridge Street to the swimming pool (known as the swimming pool path, as that is why it was originally constructed) is key to the scheme. A shared cycle path on which cyclists are likely to pass each other regularly should be a minimum of 5mtrs. As it is lined with mature trees the swimming pool path would be impossible to widen, at least in a straight line; altering the path so it widens on one side and then the other producing a curved zig-zag route is an option.
Heading towards Borrowell Lane there is an existing narrow path (that is currently 1.2 mtrs, below the 1.8 mtr ‘accepted minimum’ for a footpath) that would prove to be very difficult to widen to a width suitable for a shared path; this is because there is a hedge on one side, and a fall-away of the land on the other, and one or two trees in the way too. These problems were highlighted by Sustrans in their feasibility study. A shared path is not an option here, and so presumably the Sustrans ‘Option C’ will need to be adopted for this length – a new path for cyclists only.
In the park centre chaos will reign. All cyclists will have to pass through the busiest part of the park. I am not aware if WDC expects cyclists to dismount in this area or whether they can pedal, but either way congestion is unavoidable. Then there is the bike parking facility, which (assuming they are sticking with the Sustrans suggestion) would do away with the small flower beds opposite the swimming pool entrance.
Also, the proposed new swimming pool entrance is to be moved to be near the corner of the building, close to the Iron Bridge; cyclists would pass by this entrance on the corner. There clearly is no room in this area to facilitate safe pedestrian / cyclist co-existence.
It is of course pretty obvious that this idea would produce maximum pedestrian / cyclist interaction, conflicting directly with Sustrans remit, as given to them jointly by Kenilworth Town Council, Warwickshire County Council, and of course Warwickshire District Council themselves, to ‘Minimise the potential for conflict between pedestrians and cyclists’.
The image and plan below are from November 2020, clearly showing the pathway to the iron bridge (left) will be hardly wide enough for pedestrians, never mind cyclists too. Even if the existing bridge is widened, its approach will still be very narrow, perhaps 5 feet. A new bridge on a new site would be needed; in which case better options are available.
The dotted purple line is a proposed new timber fence.
In these articles I take a look at other proposed schemes and the involvement of some ‘Stakeholders’:
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