Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

I've started coming into town down the A34 / New Town Row.....just so that I appreciate the benefit when the new segregated cycleway appears.  Actually it's not too bad at the moment to be honest.

But that traffic light going towards the city centre, just before the canal and just after Brewery St, where the road splits into a bus/cycle lane on the left and an any other traffic lane on the right.   Does the traffic light ever change if there is only a bike there?  I've noticed it change instantly for buses, but I've never managed to trigger it with my Alu framed bike.  Most annoying as, obviously, I want to be a law abiding cyclist and obey all red lights.

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But I agree, what use is the A34 cycle highway if it does not even go from A to B??

Selly Oak A38 goes from A to B without issue, and it even connect to other routes and gives cyclist a way to join the road or join the cycle path going the other way. 

The A34 just magically stops at that underpass section with no clear way how cyclists are expected to legally join the road without annoying drivers or pedestrians, and if it stops there on that side how are cyclist travelling into the city expected to join the cycle path from the other side? Unless they illegally mount the pavement. 

It just frustrates me how they are only planning for half a route. London never did that with its cycle highways. Could you imagine if they said "Hey lets just stop half way and leave the section that connects to Blackfriars till 3 years time, could you imagine how few cyclist would be using it, compared to now where they finished in one go. Because it goes from A to B with no issue! LOL.



ian robathan said:

I know you did and think you are totally wrong. You can not explain how if riding from Perry Barr a novice inexperienced cyclist is then expected to ride under the underpass to then join this bike lane from Heathfield road. 

The most dangerous part of the A34 is from Perry barr to Heathfield Road and yet thats the part not covered. 


Robert said:

I've already explained the decision to you here.

Playing leap-frog with ten tonne vehicles (not all of which are well driven) and dealing with cars parked in the bus lane is not my idea of safe cycling, nor that of most people, which is why you will never be expected to ride in a bus lane in the Netherlands.

ian robathan said:

to simply start it from Heathfield road makes no sense nor logic.

Yes I like your thinking. Spegetti Junction is a killer for cyclists. The roundabout is to dangerous, and the underpass is badly hidden from view of the public where gangs hide out, and the paths are so badly maintained there are weeds growing on the walls. 
ian robathan said:

Or of course maybe looking at other routes, I at first thought the A34 being a regular of mine would be good but the reality is it is not. Maybe they should have looked up the lichfield road to Erdington ? Get something where we can get past spaghetti easier than now ?

No, it doesn't.   Your statement is just plain incorrect.   There is no cycle infrastructure connection with the Selly Oak Triangle junction, which is the equivalent of the roundabout at Perry Barr.   Heading South, there is no direct means of getting to the Triangle.  Heading North one will have to use a busy road with four substandard lanes, and no bus lanes like at Perry Barr.   But rather than moaning, I quietly mentioned the issue on the otherwise supportive response that I sent in, and figured out a workaround (just as I have done for the Perry Barr end).   I wouldn't cycle around the roundabout at Perry Barr, I would use the pavement, just as I do at the Selly Oak Triangle.   In the unlikely event of being stopped (I've never been stopped at Selly Oak), I would explain that using the roundabout was an unacceptable risk to life and limb; under those circumstances Home Office guidance is that one can ride on the pavement.

I would prefer to have widespread modern infrastructure like on the continent that would mean I wouldn't have to make these compromises, but that isn't going to happen overnight.   Having a good cycleway as far as Bournbrook will make Highways plans for Selly Oak look very obviously unfit for purpose.   Not having one (on the grounds that it doesn't make it as far as my house), will mean that incentive doesn't exist.   I repeat, if this plan doesn't go ahead, national government will demand the money back and you will get nothing.   Is that clear?

ARKrider said:

Selly Oak A38 goes from A to B without issue, and it even connect to other routes and gives cyclist a way to join the road or join the cycle path going the other way. 

Ok yes the Selly Oak triangle has no proper cycling connection which is a fault in design, HOWEVER, the gap is very short being only 0.3 miles from the shared pathway on the Selly Oak A38 bypass, and even then there is no sign to declare " Cyclist Please Dismount and Rejoin The Road". So technically you could carry on to the traffic light at the top of the hill and re-join the road from there where a bus/cycle lane is provided at the next traffic light.

Meanwhile the gap left from BhamRev's plans is a massive 0.8 miles (more than double the gap of Selly Oak Triangle), and Perry Bar has an over crowded roundabout with no traffic signalling, 4 lanes of traffic, so student like me who have to turn right to go to the old BCU campus for exams have to use the 3rd and 4th lanes where traffic speeds are 40 odd+ with a massive filtering section with oncoming traffic. 

Overall I feel Selly Oak is a much better route, with a very small gap that can easily be sorted in the future. The gap the new Perry Bar route has is double the length to Perry Bar, and there are no alternative ways to by pass the main roads in Perry Bar. Selly Oak has numerous smaller roads surrounding the area so its very easy to bypass the triangle using side streets. 

Highway Code 64 "You MUST NOT cycle on the pavement". Cycling on the pavement is against the law technically. If you do cycle on the pavement that is your choice but as law statement says, it means if you hit accident knock someone over under any condition it means pedestrians have 100% legal rights against you in the even you hit them and caused injury or damaged goods they had on them. Perry Bar is a VERY crowded area and cycling on a NON-shared path I think is very dangerous! With so many pedestrians around it can be very dangerous and means your therefore putting pedestrians at risk of injury. 

I think if the road is 40-50MPH and there are NO pedestrians cycling on it or your with a child then in my own opinion there is acceptation, but cycling on a pavement full of pedestrians like Perry Bar is just as dangerous as being on the road there.


Robert said:

No, it doesn't.   Your statement is just plain incorrect.   There is no cycle infrastructure connection with the Selly Oak Triangle junction, which is the equivalent of the roundabout at Perry Barr.   Heading South, there is no direct means of getting to the Triangle.  Heading North one will have to use a busy road with four substandard lanes, and no bus lanes like at Perry Barr.   But rather than moaning, I quietly mentioned the issue on the otherwise supportive response that I sent in, and figured out a workaround (just as I have done for the Perry Barr end).   I wouldn't cycle around the roundabout at Perry Barr, I would use the pavement, just as I do at the Selly Oak Triangle.   In the unlikely event of being stopped (I've never been stopped at Selly Oak), I would explain that using the roundabout was an unacceptable risk to life and limb; under those circumstances Home Office guidance is that one can ride on the pavement.

I would prefer to have widespread modern infrastructure like on the continent that would mean I wouldn't have to make these compromises, but that isn't going to happen overnight.   Having a good cycleway as far as Bournbrook will make Highways plans for Selly Oak look very obviously unfit for purpose.   Not having one (on the grounds that it doesn't make it as far as my house), will mean that incentive doesn't exist.   I repeat, if this plan doesn't go ahead, national government will demand the money back and you will get nothing.   Is that clear?

ARKrider said:

Selly Oak A38 goes from A to B without issue, and it even connect to other routes and gives cyclist a way to join the road or join the cycle path going the other way. 

Also I am very supportive of both routes, I just feel that Perry Bar would make better use if it connected to a current section of cycle infrastructure. Selly Oak technically connect to other routes, but Perry Bar has NO routes to connect to, which is why I feel the Perry Bar route is not as good.

Would I like to see the current plans for it built? Yes I would.

But I have had much better experience with people in Selly Oak than Perry Bar. I only cycle to Perry Bar for exams (1-2 times a year), while I cycle to Selly Oak at least 2-3 times a month. Every time I cycle to Perry Bar I get numerous and countless suicidal drivers that nearly wipe me out! Meanwhile in Selly Oak I only get 1 odd driver squeeze past me when I go. 

Last year for exams cycling to Perry Bar I was so nervous about being knocked over I fitted 4 cameras to my bicycle just for that day only. (normally I only use 2, a rear and a front). But last year I had one on my helmet, one facing side ways, another behind, and the other forwards mounted on the bike.

Robert said:

No, it doesn't.   Your statement is just plain incorrect.   There is no cycle infrastructure connection with the Selly Oak Triangle junction, which is the equivalent of the roundabout at Perry Barr.   Heading South, there is no direct means of getting to the Triangle.  Heading North one will have to use a busy road with four substandard lanes, and no bus lanes like at Perry Barr.   But rather than moaning, I quietly mentioned the issue on the otherwise supportive response that I sent in, and figured out a workaround (just as I have done for the Perry Barr end).   I wouldn't cycle around the roundabout at Perry Barr, I would use the pavement, just as I do at the Selly Oak Triangle.   In the unlikely event of being stopped (I've never been stopped at Selly Oak), I would explain that using the roundabout was an unacceptable risk to life and limb; under those circumstances Home Office guidance is that one can ride on the pavement.

I would prefer to have widespread modern infrastructure like on the continent that would mean I wouldn't have to make these compromises, but that isn't going to happen overnight.   Having a good cycleway as far as Bournbrook will make Highways plans for Selly Oak look very obviously unfit for purpose.   Not having one (on the grounds that it doesn't make it as far as my house), will mean that incentive doesn't exist.   I repeat, if this plan doesn't go ahead, national government will demand the money back and you will get nothing.   Is that clear?

ARKrider said:

Selly Oak A38 goes from A to B without issue, and it even connect to other routes and gives cyclist a way to join the road or join the cycle path going the other way. 

I have to negotiate the Triangle at least once a week.   Even in a car it is risky, because it is fundamentally badly designed, and motorists have enough to do avoiding crashing into each other, let alone looking for an unexpected bike.   Making that right turn you show from Chapel Lane on to the Bristol Road is a bad move.   Firstly there is the game of one-tonne chicken played out at the Homebase access.   Then there is routine conflict between motorists when they make the right turn, as they get confused by the two lanes turning right without any lane markings to aid road positioning.   Thirdly the inter-green is too short for the right turning traffic to clear the junction area before the northbound traffic arrives at the same point.   I routinely use the pavement at the Triangle, keeping behind any pedestrians.   Yes, that's slow, but there's not too much of it and it's less life-threatening than the alternative.   And I repeat, if you feel the risk of cycling on the carriageway is too great, Home Office guidance to the police is that you may cycle on the pavement.   To a degree you can use the roads off Elliot Road to bypass the Triangle, but the junction with Oak Tree Lane can be difficult; either the traffic is snarled up in all directions and nothing can move, or the traffic is too fast-moving.

Additionally, the cycle paths that take you to that point are narrow and highly indirect, requiring lengthy detours via multiple toucan crossings.   After trying many different approaches, I've concluded it's better to use Bournbrook High Street, even though it's four sub-standard lanes of heavy traffic.   Whilst I do vary the details of my route depending on the time of day, I never use the cycle paths on the new road, not even to get to the hospital.  At Perry Barr there is no existing cycling infrastructure to connect to, not even poor infrastructure like at Selly Oak, but at least you have the bus lanes.   I'm not saying that makes Perry Barr great, I'm just pointing out that both ends are very poor and all we can do is take advantage of the A34/A38 route as far as it goes.   Hopefully in the future things will improve, and the new route will encourage that, but central government is still effectively ignoring the advice it is being given about encouraging cycling.   If it doesn't get built, perhaps because there are too many objections, nothing will get built.   Waiting around for something better will achieve, in a most physical sense, nothing.

you mention the Bus Lanes Robert and that is exactly why I feel dead safe on the A34 say compared to Hagley Road which I do a lot. The lane is wide enough for a bus to pass and in fact being three lanes in part for cars makes it pretty darn safe. The plans should have built upon the bus lanes but the car has ruled these plans.

No, bus lanes are not the answer, they are just better than nothing at all.   Firstly a bus needs to pull in and stop at every bus stop (on a busy route).   The corollary of that is that a bus needs to have good acceleration and a relatively high maximum speed to make reasonable progress.   A cyclist on the other hand does not need to stop at every bus stop, which is just as well because acceleration and top speed are limited.   That means the two forms of transport have to play leapfrog.   Every overtake is a potential for conflict, but a bus has far higher inertia than a bike, making it very destructive of a soft human body if there is a collision.   The two forms of transport are fundamentally incompatible.   Buses are driven by humans, and humans make mistakes.   I dread having to overtake a bus because sometimes the driver doesn't see you and pulls away from the stop, leaving you squeezed between the bus and the general motor traffic, but the (frustrating) alternative is remaining stuck behind the bus.   And getting stuck behind a cyclist is equally frustrating for a bus driver trying to keep to the timetable.   Sometimes a driver makes too close a pass.   The only benefit of cycling in a bus lane is that there is less traffic for a cyclist to deal with.

A properly designed cycleway is the way to go, and that is what the council is just starting to do with this A34/A38 route.   I've ridden such cycleways on the continent, and they really are vastly better than anything we have here.   Mistakes made by people only on bikes typically result in little or no damage, apologies, and smiles all round, but mostly you just get on and ride, relaxed, hassle-free, and at a good pace.   However, they've been building cycleways for decades on the continent, whilst we have only just started.   The first proper cycleway in Birmingham will inevitably not connect very well.   The first telephone wasn't greatly useful either, but thankfully that wasn't used as an argument for sticking to inferior ways of doing things.

Bus lanes work well for a certain type of cyclist.  The sort of cyclist who wants to make progress and isn't afraid of cycling in traffic, but appreciates a lane with minimal cars getting in the way.  I'm usually one of those cyclists, and will generally prefer playing leapfrog with buses to close passes from cars moving at speed, or mixing with the iPhone zombies and dog-emptiers (and playing Silly Sustrans Gate cyclocross) on a shared path.  The proliferation of bus lanes is one of the things that I find makes Greater London easier to cycle around than the West Midlands Connurbation.

But that's not scalable.  Slower cyclists will hold up the buses.  Less confident cyclists won't want to play leapfrog.  Children, elderly and some disabled cyclists simply won't be safe in that kind of traffic.  It just happens to work adequately well for the sort of people who tend to cycle in spite of current conditions.  If we want everyone else to be able to cycle, then we need high-quality infrastructure.

The newer quality infrastructure in London has shown that it will be used.  I fully expect the A38 route will too, as there are already plenty of cycle users in the area (who probably care more about accessing the residential streets of Bournbrook, the University campus and the QE Hospital than the Selly Oak Triangle).  I'm less familiar with the A34 route, but on the few occasions I've attempted to cycle to Perry Barr, it's been a profoundly unpleasant experience, so any real improvement is welcome.

A quality route that doesn't join up - perhaps leading to an outbreak of illegal pavement cycling - may be a stronger argument for building more infrastructure than the tried-and-tested approach of poor quality infrastructure that nobody uses.  In the absence of more funding magically appearing, it seems worth a try?


As good as the bus lanes are on the A34 compared to cities like said London and even Leicester cycling on that road is suicidal. One of the biggest issues I have with the A34 bus lanes are the bus gates. The traffic light never change green for cyclists, so cyclist end up jumping the red lights or having to reverse and change lanes. 

There are also numerous junction where slow car traffic obscures the bus lane and oncoming right turn cars don't check the bus lane. I used to cycle to the Aldi on the A34 when I lived at Jennens Court and I ALWAYS had somone nearly run me over at the junction for Aldi. It became so common I decided it was best I just stopped in the lane to give way unless I had a bus behind me of course. 

The traffic signal junction beyond the Aldi at the B4144 the bus lane ends into a LEFT ONLY lane so cyclists/buses have to change into the faster lane to legally go straight on. The bus lane again dumps ya into the roundabout at old 6-ways, then again at Heathfield Road, and then is stops completely before the roundabout at Perry Bar. 

I prefer a bus lane that does not constantly end and your not having to play "Leap Frog" with turning motorists, changing lanes, and junctions.

Kim said:

Bus lanes work well for a certain type of cyclist.  The sort of cyclist who wants to make progress and isn't afraid of cycling in traffic, but appreciates a lane with minimal cars getting in the way.  I'm usually one of those cyclists, and will generally prefer playing leapfrog with buses to close passes from cars moving at speed, or mixing with the iPhone zombies and dog-emptiers (and playing Silly Sustrans Gate cyclocross) on a shared path.  The proliferation of bus lanes is one of the things that I find makes Greater London easier to cycle around than the West Midlands Connurbation.

But that's not scalable.  Slower cyclists will hold up the buses.  Less confident cyclists won't want to play leapfrog.  Children, elderly and some disabled cyclists simply won't be safe in that kind of traffic.  It just happens to work adequately well for the sort of people who tend to cycle in spite of current conditions.  If we want everyone else to be able to cycle, then we need high-quality infrastructure.

The newer quality infrastructure in London has shown that it will be used.  I fully expect the A38 route will too, as there are already plenty of cycle users in the area (who probably care more about accessing the residential streets of Bournbrook, the University campus and the QE Hospital than the Selly Oak Triangle).  I'm less familiar with the A34 route, but on the few occasions I've attempted to cycle to Perry Barr, it's been a profoundly unpleasant experience, so any real improvement is welcome.

A quality route that doesn't join up - perhaps leading to an outbreak of illegal pavement cycling - may be a stronger argument for building more infrastructure than the tried-and-tested approach of poor quality infrastructure that nobody uses.  In the absence of more funding magically appearing, it seems worth a try?

I agree with most of what Kim has said.

Unlike cycling on normal roads, where you're constantly being passed by other motor vehicles, it is possible to cycle in a bus lane and not encounter a bus, either at all, or only occasionally. Having said that, It does annoy me when bus drivers decide to play leap frog with you. (Something they do big time on the A38 with me.) Just like the must get in front brigade, if these drivers thought a little about what they were doing, they'd realise, slowing down and pulling in behind cyclist is the better option, than leapfrogging them for 4-5 stops.

Comparing the two routes, I can see how more people may be drawn to the A38 route, even though, it doesn't look as if it'll work for me, as I like to cycle hard and fast, in a HIIT style. 

Given everything that's been said about these proposals, positive and negative, I bet BCC will still make changes that surprises everyone.


Kim said:

Bus lanes work well for a certain type of cyclist.  The sort of cyclist who wants to make progress and isn't afraid of cycling in traffic, but appreciates a lane with minimal cars getting in the way.  I'm usually one of those cyclists, and will generally prefer playing leapfrog with buses to close passes from cars moving at speed, or mixing with the iPhone zombies and dog-emptiers (and playing Silly Sustrans Gate cyclocross) on a shared path.  The proliferation of bus lanes is one of the things that I find makes Greater London easier to cycle around than the West Midlands Connurbation.

But that's not scalable.  Slower cyclists will hold up the buses.  Less confident cyclists won't want to play leapfrog.  Children, elderly and some disabled cyclists simply won't be safe in that kind of traffic.  It just happens to work adequately well for the sort of people who tend to cycle in spite of current conditions.  If we want everyone else to be able to cycle, then we need high-quality infrastructure.

The newer quality infrastructure in London has shown that it will be used.  I fully expect the A38 route will too, as there are already plenty of cycle users in the area (who probably care more about accessing the residential streets of Bournbrook, the University campus and the QE Hospital than the Selly Oak Triangle).  I'm less familiar with the A34 route, but on the few occasions I've attempted to cycle to Perry Barr, it's been a profoundly unpleasant experience, so any real improvement is welcome.

A quality route that doesn't join up - perhaps leading to an outbreak of illegal pavement cycling - may be a stronger argument for building more infrastructure than the tried-and-tested approach of poor quality infrastructure that nobody uses.  In the absence of more funding magically appearing, it seems worth a try?

The A34 route reaches Heathfield Road because the BCR team needed to get plans out to consultation and approved and built before April 2018.

They will be developing plans for the section from Heathfield Road to Perry Barr in the near future and seeking the funds to deliver it. They have already succeeded in securing funds from the LEPs for part 2 of BCR, and there is no reason why they won't succeed again - after all the BCR team want to keep their jobs, and that means bringing in the funding.

Connecting as far as Heathfield Road is not perfect, but it still serves a substantial area of residential housing connecting them to the city centre and jobs there. This route is not simply about connecting Perry Barr and the city centre.

As for cycling in the bus lanes - I wouldn't take a 5 year old kid on a balance bike in a bus lane.



ARKrider said:

But I agree, what use is the A34 cycle highway if it does not even go from A to B??

[snip]

The A34 just magically stops at that underpass section with no clear way how cyclists are expected to legally join the road without annoying drivers or pedestrians, and if it stops there on that side how are cyclist travelling into the city expected to join the cycle path from the other side? Unless they illegally mount the pavement. 

It just frustrates me how they are only planning for half a route. London never did that with its cycle highways. Could you imagine if they said "Hey lets just stop half way and leave the section that connects to Blackfriars till 3 years time, could you imagine how few cyclist would be using it, compared to now where they finished in one go. Because it goes from A to B with no issue! LOL.



ian robathan said:

I know you did and think you are totally wrong. You can not explain how if riding from Perry Barr a novice inexperienced cyclist is then expected to ride under the underpass to then join this bike lane from Heathfield road. 

The most dangerous part of the A34 is from Perry barr to Heathfield Road and yet thats the part not covered. 

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