Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

I had a chat with a guy on the canal tow path near Smethwick this afternoon who reckoned that the cycle revolution is in trouble with delays and cancellations due to leadership in the council changing, people leaving and opposition to plans in some areas. I'm not sure if this is true but it does seem to have gone very quiet recently apart from canal tow path improvements.

Wasn't the first £24 million supposed to have been spent within 2 years or it would be withdrawn by government? Has that actually happened? The council website isn't much help so can anybody shed some light on the situations?

Thanks

Nick

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Umm, there is evidence that cities that introduced 20mph limits, even if not enforced, have lower injury rates for other road users. Enforcement would be better though.

I take your point Doug, but in my personal opinion the 20 MPH limits have not led to an increase of cyclists. Hopefully I will be proved wrong.


doug salmon said:

Umm, there is evidence that cities that introduced 20mph limits, even if not enforced, have lower injury rates for other road users. Enforcement would be better though.

I went to the first half of the transport meeting in Kings Heath today and was surprised to hear that the BCR focus is now on two separated cycle routes on A38 Bristol Road and A34 Walsall Road. Presumably planned work on Alcester Road, Harborne Road, Soho Road etc is not going ahead anytime soon. I had to leave early so was unable to get any more details.

There wasn't any further group discussion about that, so I can't report anything more.

I reckon the lack of bravado on council's part has left this part of BCR in limbo. Rather than pretend it's going to plan, it seems the focus is being shifted to schemes that have a chance of working, e.g. physically segregated routes along those A-roads. Graham's point about greater segregation of cycling routes seems to be a key factor.

Aside from that, Graham approached me about the Highbury cycle route, and four of us had a frantic conversation as the centre was being cleared out. The inept and controversial plan by Landscape Practice Group is a non-starter, so there's a question over what treatment Highbury gets - if any. The sticking points seem to be about the uphill gradients along Dad's Lane vs Moor Green Lane. If cyclists are aiming for the Queensbridge junction, would they be willing to cycle up Dad's Lane from the Rea crossing, or is Moor Green Lane a much stronger preference? Apparently some traffic engineers think MGL is the way to go.

Working backward from MGL into the park, there would have to be a suitably wide path connecting the main park path to Moor Green Lane, which in turn raises the hackles of park users and stakeholders.

The solution we've mooted is to direct people up/down Dad's Lane, and spend the BCR money on reconfiguring the wierd roundabout at the junction of Shutlock/Dad's Lane to make it cycle friendly. That's a challenge in itself, but I'd rather see that happen than a complicated bodge within the park.

Cyclists who want to pootle along the side path past the long pond would be free to do so, whilst commuters can hustle themselves along the main path and Dad's Lane.

The rest of the meeting  was dominated by council traffic planner explaining why things can't happen. A damp squib revealing just how much unhelpful inertia exists. While Kings Heath and Moseley might succeed in getting a working 20mph scheme, or a slight reduction in HGV traffic, the interests of 'balance' are going to keep anything more effective (e.g. an A435 cycle route) from coming into being. I was newly dismayed at just how equivocal the various council members and officers are about this.

Here's an update from today's transport meeting...

http://birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/244026

3. Birmingham Cycle Revolution 
3.1. Since the award of the initial Cycle City Ambition Grant funding in late 2013, good progress has been made in delivering cycle infrastructure on the ground in support of the overall £62m Birmingham Cycle Revolution (BCR) strategy. Significant elements of the BCR1 programme are now substantially completed and work is also well advanced on the development, and in the case of some work-streams, implementation of the Phase 2 and 3 programmes. A summary of the progress to date on the various programme elements is provided below.
 
3.2. Canal Routes - By spring 2016, a total of 6 canal routes had been completed as part of the BCR1 programme with over 40km of towpath refurbished. Since this date, further improvements have been undertaken, along both the Stratford Canal (Kings Norton Junction to Solihull boundary) and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal (Kings Norton to Wast Hill Tunnel). 
3.3. Development work is already underway to complete the refurbishment of all remaining towpaths within the city boundary, which will be complemented by further enhancements including new accesses, lighting and signing/way-finding. 
3.4. Green Route - Green Route schemes in parks and public open space areas were completed by summer 2015 as part of BCR Phase 1, with a total of 8km of new and 22km of upgraded cycle paths having been delivered. A further 6 schemes, over 10km in total length, are currently under development and are planned to be implemented as part of the Phase 2/3 BCR programme. This includes schemes through Hatchford Brook and the Woodgate Valley Country Park. 
3.5. Highway Schemes - Two Main Corridor schemes, namely Lichfield Road and Nechells Parkway, have been partially completed, with the remaining section of Lichfield Road due to be implemented later this year. It is proposed that the Nechells Parkway scheme is completed at a later date in tandem with the Ashted Circus Pinch Point scheme. 
3.6. Work is also well advanced on the development of a further Phase 1 Main Corridor scheme along Bristol Street, the implementation of which is proposed to commence shortly. 
3.7. Some 11 of 17 Parallel Routes contained within the BCR1 programme have been delivered on the ground, whilst development of a further route adjacent to the Warwick Road, which will provide significant benefits to both cyclists and the local community, is nearing completion.
3.8. Big Birmingham Bikes - over 3,400 bikes have now been provided to people in the most socially deprived areas of the city, through a ballot process. A further 600 bikes have also been made available to people in these communities either through long term loans or community groups. 16 Big Birmingham Bike Cycle Centres have also been established delivering cycle enabling programmes (training/maintenance) as well as Smarter Choices activities (led ride programmes, etc.). 
3.9. Private Cycle Parking (Top Cycle Locations) - Grants totalling some £375,000 have been issued to over 35 businesses and 25 schools throughout the city for the provision of cycle infrastructure, pool cycles and associated equipment. 
3.10. Brompton Dock Cycle Hire - in partnership with the former West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (Centro) a total of 5 Brompton cycle hire docks have been provided at key city centre interchanges and business centres (Moor St, New St and Snow Hill stations, as well as Aston University and Brindley Place). 

It's very disappointing to see that routes such as Alcester Road are not mentioned. We have not been told that the Alcester Road route has been cancelled, but it is odd that it is not named in this update.

A lot of the initial money has been moved from highway schemes to the canals and green routes, which have been brought forward from later stages of BCR. This was agreed by the DfT - the consequence is that there is much less scope for spending on canals and green routes in the next few years because most of the work has been done.

I think that the Big Birmingham Bikes are excellent, and from what I have heard the on-going developments will be great. The intention is to build up a library of kids' bikes that can be lent out and then replaced with a larger one when returned. This should help with the cost issues of buying new bikes as kids grow-up, and mean good quality kids' bikes get used rather than cheap ones.

As much as I love my Brompton, I have my reservations about the Brompton Dock cycle hire - I think that BCC should look at cycle hire such as that in Liverpool (cheaper than the London bikes, but just as rideable). Easy to use and cheap to access bike hire is important.

The suggestions that money should be focused on a few high-quality routes is a good one, in my opinion. We need some infrastructure that shows commitment from BCC and will actually attract new users and existing users, rather than many miles of compromise that don't do much for one group or the other. If we can get some high-quality routes, we can use those as examples of what we want and argue for more of them. Money is not what is lacking - it is the political belief that good quality infrastructure is achievable and desirable.

"The suggestions that money should be focused on a few high-quality routes is a good one, in my opinion. We need some infrastructure that shows commitment from BCC and will actually attract new users and existing users, rather than many miles of compromise that don't do much for one group or the other. If we can get some high-quality routes, we can use those as example "

This is correct

Indeed.  The Brompton Dock model is such that it serves mainly to benefit visitors, or those who'd like to play with a Brompton for a few days.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it doesn't work for people who might use a hire bike for a short journey from A to B - how do you get into town to get a Brompton from the dock?

Although I'm not sure how well a more traditional bike hire scheme would work.  The city centre is compact enough that you hardly need a bike to get around it (indeed, the cycle permeability is such that pedestrians often have an advantage), whereas rolling out hire stations to provide decent coverage within the 20 minute isochron, for example, would be a mammoth undertaking.  Patchy coverage would mean a scheme would get little use, though perhaps some compromise could be found, with initial good coverage along one or two prime routes and building on that.

I also wonder if there isn't simply a lack of space (commitment of space) in the city centre for the required docks.  Cycle parking's rather thin on the ground as it is.



Chris Lowe said:

As much as I love my Brompton, I have my reservations about the Brompton Dock cycle hire - I think that BCC should look at cycle hire such as that in Liverpool (cheaper than the London bikes, but just as rideable). Easy to use and cheap to access bike hire is important.

 

The key challenge is for BCC to overcome the expectations of recent history and commit to a bold on road infrastructure scheme that clearly  signals  the change it has talked about. Everything up to such a point - though very worthy -  is a side event. Even half a mile of a key on road segregated cycle scheme would be a symbolic national statement that Birmingham the city that  sacrificed everything to the motor car has officially entered a new era, It would cause a news furor  to be sure for the press to see a quality segregated on road cycle route on a key road into Brum.( The same dynamic applies to trams as well, BCC has kept tram development to a quarantined city Centre zone, well away from the general road network. )

In both cases I think  there is a real fear of change and a worry about the enormity of it all and the statement it would represent.. Despite the  talking , the plans and the publicity  there is a stepping back from the brink . I am sure we are only a few years away , I just think its going to take a brave step from someone with a tear in their eye,,

I would like to see the council pick one major route and really do a top job with it rather than spread the money so thin that there is no impact.

exactly  it would represent a threshold  - very symbolic, of all  the English cities Brum is  most pigeon holed as a poorer relation to other  conurbations. It would be an astonishing coup for the city if the UK  media to turn up and see a Dutch level cycle lane that goes right into the center, It would cause a minor sensation, it would be a big statement. People would say ''no it cant be this is in Brum ! ''

Absolutely.

As others have pointed out, there's not much more that could be done with the canals.

My issue with the canals is that they were dug for boats a long time ago. I live close to the Tame Valley Canal, it does not go where I would want to cycle. Why would it? It was built for boats in 1844.

So, the low hanging fruit having been picked, the council now have to really do something that will stand out.

Doug said:

exactly  it would represent a threshold  - very symbolic, of all  the English cities Brum is  most pigeon holed as a poorer relation to other  conurbations. It would be an astonishing coup for the city if the UK  media to turn up and see a Dutch level cycle lane that goes right into the center, It would cause a minor sensation, it would be a big statement. People would say ''no it cant be this is in Brum ! ''

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