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HS2 Bike: the forgotten trail

The proposal to develop a 500km north-south bike route through central England in conjunction with the High Speed 2 rail project may be defunct.

Little has been heard of the proposal during the long lead up to the $55B rail link between London and Leeds and Manchester in the North.

But recently the Department for Transport released a feasibility study for the bike route that shows that it would link six of the largest cities in England, plus another 200 towns and villages.

The study found 7 million people lived within a 10 minute bike ride of the route.

The problem is the feasibility study was completed in 2016, but then sat on by the government for two years.

Meantime, the planning for bridges and tunnels along the route proceeded without any consideration for the bike project.

And now, with the release of the study, the government has announced there is no funding for the project.

The HS2 cycleway would have been constructed partly along the rail route and partly on existing and proposed local routes. It would have been within a corridor of 3 miles on each side of the track.

The corridor was selected to create a ‘legacy cycle network’ that would provide benefits to communities impacted by the construction and operation of HS2.

The vision for the route is described thus:

"The project provides the opportunity to deliver new and upgraded local cycle facilities of ‘world class standard’ for communities along the length of the proposed HS2 railway alignment.

The project would seek to transform local cycle networks within the study area, creating links to railway stations, urban centres, existing and planned employment centres, tourist attractions and new housing developments.

Each section of new or upgrade cycle network would serve as an important facility at a local level, connecting where people live to where they want to go to. The improvements would represent a step change in the quality of cycle infrastructure design and would mainly be traffic-free; attractive to confident and non-confident cyclists.

The project also provides an opportunity to act as a catalyst to the regeneration and revitalisation of town centres and high streets, through the enhancement of the public realm, providing benefits to all users, including pedestrians, shoppers, businesses and cyclists.

Beyond the ‘local’ level, it is envisaged that these individual sections could be linked together to create a continuous long distance route that would provide an attractive leisure and tourism facility as well. The project would provide a national exemplar of modern and international cycling infrastructure.

The project would, as far as feasibly possible, also seek to enhance routes for non-cyclists and disabled users (using a range of cycles), all within the context of creating continuous, safe and attractive routes which would encourage the public to cycle for local trips, for work, leisure and as tourists."

See the original National Cycleway associated with HS2 feasibility study here.

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