Solihull's Parks can be a great place for a quiet cycle and are particularly suitable for young children learning to ride and gaining experience.
In Solihull the best place for traffic free cycling is Tudor Grange Park with its half mile long dedicated cycle circuit. The circuit is generally open for free public use but is sometimes closed for booked activities. The circuit has some hills so is good for practicing gears and bike control. You can also cycle through the park to Tudor Grange Leisure Centre and the town centre
There is a 0.75 mile segregated cycle route through Brueton and Malvern Parks connecting the town centre to Warwick Road and passing the Parkridge Nature Centre. Shirley Park also has a short length of segregated path.
Some parks have significant lengths of wide unsegregated paths which are good for cycling. These include Hillfield Park, Monkspath, Elmdon Park, Elmdon, Lavender Hall Park, Balsall Common and recreation grounds in Marston Green and Bentley Heath. There is also an off road route connecting Meriden Park in Chelmsley Wood to routes in Sheldon Country Park (Birmingham).
Other parks where the paths are narrower are Olton Park, Meriden Park (Chelmsley Wood), Jobs Close (Knowle) Park and Dorridge Park. Also in Dorridge is the nearby traffic-free Conker Lane. These parks are covered by a council byelaw which prohibits cycling in most public open spaces but in most of them there is minimal signing, if any, about this and sensible cycling is tolerated by most people with no prosecution ever being pursued by the council. You will regularly see people cycling in these parks and unless you come across someone who feels strongly that cycling should be actively prevented in the park you are unlikely to have a problem doing this.
This new initiative got underway in 2019 and involves widening some paths to encourage walking and cycling and new planting to encourage wildlife. The first route along Monkspath Hall Road between Tudor Grange Park and Widney Lane has been completed.
Solihull is crossed by two canals - the Grand Union Canal which goes from Birmingham to London crossing the borough between Olton and Chadwick End (8 miles within Solihull), and the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal from Birmingham to Stratford crossing the borough between Solihull Lodge and Hockley Heath (6 miles within Solihull).
Canals are now run by the new Canal and Rivers Trust which encourages cycling on towpaths. Cycling is possible on both canals although the towpaths are generally narrow and right against the water. The best sections for cycling are between Olton and Catherine-de-Barnes on the Grand Union and the northern section of the Stratford Canal near Dickens Heath. Here the path is surfaced and any mud is localised. In other locations the surface is rough, and generally only suitable for mountain bikes. Further afield the Grand Union Canal has been surfaced from the Birmingham boundary in Acocks Green and the City Centre.
Off-Road Routes along the Highway
These are not very common in Solihull but there are some useful lengths:
- Stratford Road between Marshall Lake Road and Hockley Heath (3.8 miles)
- Catherine-de-Barnes Lane and Bickenhill Lane between Catherine-de-Barnes and Birmingham Business Park (3.4 miles).
- Hobs Moat Road and Lode Lane between the Coventry Road and the town centre.
The biggest network is in north Solihull where routes go between Smith's Wood, Chelmsley Wood and Birmingham Business Park.
There are also other more fragmented sections of cycle route along parts of the Stratford Road in Shirley
Signed Cycle Routes
These use a mixture of paths, quiet roads and cycle lanes to create a fairly continuous route avoiding some busy roads. The most important ones are:
- Monkspath Cycle Route: Stratford Road/Creynolds Lane to the town centre (2.5 miles).
- Knowle Cycle Route: Knowle Village to the town centre via the M42 footbridge and Brueton Park (2.5 miles).
- Cornyx Lane to the town centre (a short route via a subway under the Solihull bypass avoiding some busy junctions).
Routes further afield
The nearest high quality cycle routes outside Solihull are
Rea Valley Route between Longbridge and Birmingham City Centre - 7.5 miles
Stratford Greenway -a classic flat railway path going 5 miles between Long Marston and Stratford
Both these routes are part of Sustrans' National Cycle Network Route 5.
Also in Warwickshire the Kenilworth Greenway goes from Burton Green into Kenilworth with a link to the University of Warwick.
North of Birmingham there is the 4.5 mile North Birmingham Route between Brookvale Park and Sutton Park visitor centre and routes linking the network of paths in Castle Vale to Sutton via Pype Hayes, the Newhall Valley to Sutton Park which itself has extensive paths of varying standards.