Everyone agrees Coventry's Canal Basin area should be a major attraction for the City - but the problem is it's too isolated, and doesn't feel like part of the town - so very few bother going there. We - at Visit Coventry - think it's time for a bold re-think, - and with the City of Culture bid shortlisting just around the corner we reckon Coventry needs to get serious about finding solutions to the general problem of how off-putting the ringroad is when it comes to encouraging folks to venture more widely around the City Centre on foot.
One idea we like is to pedestrianise the top of Bishop St next to Machine Mart, and create a new full width pedestrian crossing spanning all five lanes of the ringroad. You can see how it might look by clicking the slideshow image above.
A similar concept was floated a few years ago by the Council, when it thought it might be getting a chunk of infrastructure levy money from the developers of the old Royal Mail site (the plan changed tho when Cov Uni bought it in 2012 - from mixed use, to just student) - planning legislation says that as students don't have cars, the levy can't be applied - so as a result developers are 'off the hook' on this type of scheme and don't have to make any contribution to improving roads or access.
We don't remember seeing this in the news as we were doing other stuff back then, but apparently there was a big outcry as drivers felt it would cause unnecessary delays, and residents felt it would be less convenient/more dangerous? vs using the bridge.
The thing is though, most bottlenecks and delays aren't caused by the ringroad - it's the quickly narrowing roads that lead off at each junction away from town that create problems (poor original design - ringroad should have been set much further out). Anyhow, Cov traffic/congestion is peanuts anyway vs most cities plus there's already traffic lights at the Foleshill Rd roundabout 100 yards away interrupting traffic flow regularly - so an extra set of automated lights (3 min green, 1 min red - with folks crossing the whole width in one go) - sync'd with the roundabout - would work just fine.
How a part-pedestrianised Bishop St - with ringroad crossing - might look..
Convenient, and safe, with minimal impact on traffic flows. And more significantly, restoring, in an instant, the original main north-south pre-ringroad sightline - 'bringing in' the canal basin and northern canal-side waterfronts so they feel like part of the town centre visiting experience.
This whole area - with it's huge potential for touristic/cultural appeal - desperately needs bringing back into the fold of Coventry's city centre (which has its own problems, but is definitely improving) - so whether it's this scheme - or another - it's clear something needs doing.
There is money out there for bold, transforming schemes that capture the West Midlands regional aspiration to re-invent itself as THE place to live, work and visit - we (in Coventry) just need to get into the habit of challenging stuff that doesn't work, asking questions, then getting really vocal about what we like the sound of - so that financial cases can be made and put forward. Demonstrate widespread public appetite for solving a specific problem, and suddenly the Council are listening. Moan about things, or shout stuff down without offering an alternative, and, hey presto - deaf ears.
ps. Like always, if you've any other ideas - or just want to tell us that we've lost the plot - we'd love to hear from you! >> email firstname.lastname@example.org