Weddington Road Cycle Scheme

This content is made available free of charge and without adverts - but it needs your help to keep it that way! If you are able to help out, any donations are gratefully received! Thank you!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

As part of the Nuneaton Town Investment Plan, there is an early stage project to provide separated high quality cycling provision along approximately 0.9km (0.6 miles) of the A444 Weddington Road. The scheme would run from the Leicester Road junction at the south, to Brook Lane to the north, and will provide a useful (if short) main road link for cycling in the southern part of the Weddington ward in Nuneaton.

Specific plans have not been released, but the outline of the project has been published as Project F in the aforementioned plan (page 55) which notes the issue of Weddington Road being a busy and congested arterial route where improved cycling would make the town a more attractive place to live with enhanced green travel links.

Project F from the Nuneaton Town Investment Plan provides a high level overview of the scheme and its objectives.
Nuneaton Town Investment Plan – Project F: Weddington Road Cycle Link

While there are various possibilities that the County Council could investigate for providing good cycling infrastructure here – a bidirectional route on either the east or west side of the road, or two single direction cycleways on either side of the carriageway, with positives and negatives associated with both – the proposal notes a preference for a “two-way cycle track”, and based on the plans for the Long Shoot cycle scheme which also provides for a bidirectional route, it is likely that this will be the progressed option. It would also be the easiest to construct given only one side of the road needs to be significantly impacted. With that in mind, the west side of the road would make the most sense given fewer major interactions with side roads and residential properties which could create points of conflict and design difficulties.

A Google Earth map showing the rough line of the expected route and additional annotations for the area.
Weddington Road Cycle Scheme Map (Google Earth)
Red = Estimated Proposed Route; Orange = Suggested extensions
Click to Enlarge

Weddington Road can be very busy including with larger commercial vehicles (vans, LGVs, HGVs). Its current cycling infrastructure is limited to painted advisory lanes (which stop through pinch-points and are often obstructed by parked vehicles) and some signs to drivers. These do almost nothing for real or perceived safety and so, it is an unattractive place to ride. Indeed, many favour riding on the pavement, especially where children are involved.

Although this is a short scheme as proposed, it is important that it is designed in a manner that works with the nature of Weddington Road. As an important main road, it should form part of a core strategic cycle network for the town in to which smaller routes connect – but it is also important for local trips to nearby destinations.

With that in mind, this scheme needs to be designed to best standards:

  • Safe and comfortable to use for people of all ages (children to the elderly) and abilities using a variety of different cycle types,
  • A wide birectional route to support both high-speed through traffic and slower local trips with minimal conflict (minimum width of 3m, but more where space allows),
  • Fully separated from pedestrians and motor traffic with safe junction interactions including priority crossings and well-designed access/egress points to connect to opposite side roads,
  • Good interactions with bus-stops ideally incorporating a bypass design (floating bus-stop),
  • Designed with a view to future expansion along the remainder of the A444 route, ultimately out to the A5.

It is important that various key destinations are considered – Etone College is located nearby to the southern boundary of the scheme, so this route may well become popular with school students; various industrial and commercial units are destinations for trade and employment, including Wickes, Toolstation, Buildbase, and Aldi as well as some local shops; sports fields including rugby and cricket clubs provide leisure and entertainment. It will also provide an important safe through-route connection for residents to access the town centre.

Safe junctions need to be provided to comfortably connect with Shanklin Drive and Kingsbridge Road in order to capture the significant residential estates that these roads serve. Both roads can be important links for the nearby Higham Lane School, so junction design is very important to allow students to be safe joining and leaving the scheme which will involve crossing the potentially busy main carriageway of Weddington Road. While the scheme outline doesn’t mention detail, it may be worthwhile incorporating short feeder routes on these major side roads so that riders can comfortably be routed into the scheme and safe crossing points. Both of these junctions are wide and potentially hazardous, so good connectivity is important for riders to both feel and be safe.

A Google Earth map showing potential interactions of the main scheme with major side roads.
Weddington Road Cycle Scheme Map – Google Earth
Red = Estimated Proposed Route; Orange = Suggested feeder routes; Light Blue = Suggested shared space for access
Click to Enlarge

Careful consideration needs to be given to how the route will pass (and connect with) the local shops and sporting facilities found just north of the Aldi supermarket. There is a wide access point to the shopping parade side road which also connects with a narrow bridge to the car park for the sports clubs. This area can get very busy and although motor vehicle movements are generally slow, with a lot going on it can be hazardous.

At the northern end of the schemes boundary, next to the local shops, is a cut through to Cleaver Gardens which leads first to Sandon Park, but then also to Weddington Walk – part of the National Cycle Network and a mostly pleasant shared leisure route. It would be useful to formalise and improve the connection from Weddington Road to Cleaver Gardens (which is currently obstructed by a chicane barrier), and for the borough council to improve the connection from Sandon Park to Weddington Walk (currently inaccessible via a stepped bridge and some poor quality surfacing) to ensure routes are joined up, fully accessible, and do not present network gaps.

While this scheme is short and undoubtedly limited by budget, it would be useful to attempt to extend the northern boundary slightly further north to accommodate a short hill on Weddington Road – perhaps by just 350 metres (0.2 miles). At present, the scheme ends at the foot of the hill meaning riders who continue northbound on the existing advisory lane will be returning to mixing with (and possibly under pressure from) motor traffic at the exact moment when they may slow and become less steady due to the short climb. And while those travelling southbound have the advantage of a down hill section, the loss of the advisory cycle lane here and the presence of pinch points can make this section hazardous for riders especially if they are not confident in taking the lane.

A Google Earth map of the northern end of the scheme, showing onward connection to a leisure walking/cycling route and a suggested short expansion northwards to accommodate a hill.
Weddington Road Cycle Scheme Map – Google Earth
Red = Estimated Proposed Route; Orange = Suggested north extension.
Click to Enlarge

It’s also important that good consideration is given to how riders travelling southbound on the advisory lane can safely and easily cross Weddington Road to access the bidirectional route on the opposite side of the carriageway. Otherwise the value of the scheme will be limited if it cannot be accessed with minimal friction versus continuing on the carriageway – especially for the more confident riders.

Finally, the problem with a bidirectional route is one of access from the opposite side of the carriageway. Connections to major junctions have already been mentioned above, but there are a number of properties that front Weddington Road itself and it’s important that these are not excluded from a scheme by making access difficult. To that end, I’d propose an upgrade to footpaths on the eastern side of Weddington Road to become shared-use space with the intention being that this can be used primarily for access, connecting to the main scheme via the major junctions mentioned before.

This is important from an accessibility perspective, but also from a commercial point too – if last mile deliveries by cycle are to be supported, those riders need to be able to safely access all properties while not being excluded from the safety benefits that the main scheme provides. Without a shared-use space on the eastern side of the roads, some may choose to ride on the pavement anyway, or they may forego the main scheme and ride in the carriageway where that is seen as the easier option.

I will be watching this scheme develop with interest as I will certainly find value in protected cycling on Weddington Road. Ultimately (and looking to the long term) I would like to see a scheme running along its entire length, perhaps even continuing out of town to connect to the A5. So, while this is a short route now, it will hopefully serve as a good starting point for this important road, especially in conjunction with other schemes in the town.

While there is little public information at present, I’ll be collating updates and tracking the scheme’s development at fiets.uk/weddingtonroadcycling.

Have you found this content interesting or useful? If so, can you help support the site, podcast and active travel advocacy work? This content is made available free of charge, but if you can help out then any contribution is greatly appreciated!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com