At the heart of a greener, healthier region
Cycling and walking is more popular than ever. We are keen to demonstrate our commitment to active travel and meet new carbon emissions targets.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and our Local Authority partners have ambitious plans for cycling and walking in the region. We have worked closely together to develop an extensive Cycling and Walking network, that will now be known as the 'Starley Network', named after the Coventry-based Starley family, widely considered to be the innovators of the modern cycle.
We hope this re-brand will increase public awareness of our plans and ultimately encourage more people to cycle and walk.
Named in honour of the Starley family of Coventry industrialists who pioneered bicycle manufacturing.
Until now, this amazing chapter in our region’s proud history has often gone unnoticed. But there has never been a better time to celebrate it, with the national spotlight on cycling and walking, we believe it plays a key role it in our green recovery.
Starley Network map
The Starley Network pulls together existing routes and towpaths, proposed new cycling infrastructure, and new pop-up lanes funded through the Emergency Active Travel Fund. Local authorities have worked closely with TfWM to link their local cycling plans into a region-wide network for the first time, showcasing the true scope of the future cycling network.
James Starley (1830-1871) was an English inventor and is known as the father of the bicycle industry. Starley started the Coventry Sewing Machine Company in around 1861. The company later started making bicycles and was hugely successful, making Coventry the centre of the British bicycle industry.
Bicycles back then (known as velocipedes) had wheels of increasingly disparate size, with the front growing ever larger than the rear, notably high-wheelers, or penny-farthings. James invented the differential gear and perfected the bicycle chain drive – both of which are central to the design of the modern bicycle.
His nephew, John Starley (1854-1901), was also an inventor and industrialist who is widely considered the inventor of the modern bicycle. Having worked for his uncle for 6 years, in 1877, John started a new business called Starley & Sutton Co with William Sutton, a local cycling enthusiast. They set about developing bicycles that were safer and easier to use than the prevailing penny farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycles. They started by manufacturing tricycles, and by 1883 their products were being branded as ‘Rovers’.
In 1885, Starley made history when he produced the Rover Safety Cycle. The Rover was a rear-wheel-drive, chain driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, making it more stable than the previous high wheeler designs. This invention was soon adopted as the preferred model and the modern bicycle still utilises the same design.