Let’s rescue Britain’s forgotten cycleways

Cycleways in 1930s Britain

Between 1934 and 1940 Britain’s Ministry of Transport built at least 280-miles of segregated cycleways, usually on both sides of the new arterial roads springing up all over the country at that time. The photograph above shows one such Dutch-style cycling facility that was built in Manchester in 1937.

Some of these cycleways still exist, but languish unused because either they are no longer considered part of cycle infrastructure or lie hidden under a few centimetres of soil.

Journalist Carlton Reid and urban planner John Dale have launched a crowd-funding campaign to see these cycleways resurrected, which has already surpassed its target. To make a pledge or simply find out more about his fascinating and worthwhile project, watch the film below and visit their Kickstarter page.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.



  1. Tony Williams


    Cycle routes. Being aged 77 I well recall that seventy years ago the newer main roads had cycle tracks. The A127 Southend Arterial Road, I think sections of the North Circular, sections of the Great Cambridge Road, and others. I remember in the 1960s sections of the A127 on which the cycle track hadn’t been completed. “They fell out of use” says the video. Does that tell us something? So listening to the commentary with its tone of incredulous surprise I was not moved to the extent the writer probably intended. I’m glad to read that the crowdfunding effort has already reached its target.

  2. JC


    What does ETA have against helmets? Hardly good practice for an insurance company.

    • The ETA


      A desire to promote cycling as a healthy and safe activity rather than an extreme sport.

  3. Carlton Reid


    Tony – it’s recollections like yours that could prove invaluable. If you’d like to get in touch, and fill in some of the knowledge gaps in the project, I’m at carltonreid at mac dot com.

    On the project page there’s a map with the 90 schemes on it, including the ones you mention. I’d be most especially interested to hear your views about the Southend Arterial Road.

    I’m very well aware of the design flaws in most of these 1930s cycleways, and why cyclists of the time didn’t use them to the extent anticipated. But we can – hopefully – rectify some of those mistakes and omissions.

  4. Martin Holst


    I remember the cycle track on the dual carriageway section of the Great Cambridge Road. I never used it for two good reasons. No thought seemed to be given to the hazard of motorists coming out across the cycle track to the main road. I feared they would not see me.
    The second reason is that the early concrete roads did not allow properly for the expansion of the concrete in hot weather. Both road and cycle track had uneven surfaces as a result. Construction on this road probably started 1923.
    I did cycle to Southend a couple of times, but did not use that cycle track. Now 82 and still cycling regularly.

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