500-mile traffic-free cycling route unveiled in West Midlands

The Starley Network has been named in honour of the Coventry family of industrialists who pioneered bicycle manufacturing.

Cyclists on bikes infront of Coventry Cathedral

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has this week unveiled the Starley Network, a new 500-mile cycling vision for the West Midlands. 

The network aims to bring a new era for the region’s cycling network, which has been re-branded to reflect the surge in people taking to their bikes since the coronavirus pandemic.  

All 493 miles of the routes on the new network will be dedicated for active travel, with the ambition that the routes will either be traffic-free or within roads but physically separated from traffic.

Named in honour of the Starley family of Coventry industrialists who pioneered bicycle manufacturing, the Starley Network pulls together existing routes, proposed new cycling infrastructure, and new pop-up lanes.

It was unveiled at the Coventry Transport Museum, which proudly displays Starley bicycles and tells the story of a city which changed the world through transport. 

Thanks to collaborative work, for the first time the region has one, easier-to-understand network, rather than each city having their own.

A new graphic map showcases the true scope of the region-wide future cycling network.

A graphic map of the planned Starley Network of cycle paths

The unveiling comes after TfWM recently launched its Roll & Stroll campaign, which aims to encourage more people to use two wheels and their two feet in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The behavioural-change campaign offers practical support for new cyclists and those returning, as well as safety advice. 

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, commented on the unveiling: “We are utterly committed to improving cycling infrastructure across the region, and active travel has a critical role to play in our future transport plans for the West Midlands. 

“Cycling has enormous benefits, both for people’s health and the environment. The more people who cycle the more we reduce air pollution, and the more we reduce the strain on our NHS through people getting fitter and healthier. That is why we have always been ambitious with our cycling plans, and the fact we set and met a £10 funding per head target is testament to that.

“I am delighted to be launching the Starley Network today, and what better place to do so than in Coventry, the home of the Starley family and the modern-day bicycle.” 

TfWM will invest more than £260m in the Starley Network over the coming years, with local authorities adding to that figure as they invest in their local network.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, from Coventry City Council, who helped launched the Starley Network, added: “Our city is the home of the bicycle industry in the UK. 

“The Starley family helped us to lead the way back in the 19th century, and now their name will help take us into the next stage of the cycling story. 

“Our new cycle paths and pop-up cycle lanes are giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy cycling in safe, clean environments, and now the Starley Network will spread that work right across the West Midlands.