Cycling in and around Birmingham England
I thought it might be interesting to see just how many anti-cycling signs I could collect whilst I'm out and about in Birmingham.
As those who have read my posts on this forum know I'm familiar with cycling in Germany. Cycling Prohibited signs do exist there but I've never bothered photographing them because they are infrequent and invariably reasonable in my experience. For example, I know of one on a narrow jetty leading out into the Baltic. End of Route signs simply do not exist. Shown left is the one and only permanent Cyclists Dismount sign I know of. It actually says "Warning! Cyclists please dismount, danger of injury", and proved to be a reasonable request. In Neumünster I did spot a number of temporary Cyclists Dismount signs associated with some large-scale roadworks that were being undertaken (right). Note that these roadworks are taking place on a segregated cycle path, a feature of the transport infrastructure commonplace in Germany but rare in Birmingham. I've presented only two examples because that's all I have to choose from, since like in Holland cycling is encouraged in Germany. However, David Hembrow has managed to find one in The Netherlands (after a long search).
So let's compare that with the situation in Birmingham. I've not gone out specifically looking for these signs, I've just snapped them in passing whilst out cycling. I've ordered the photos by ride date to give an idea of how many I encountered on each ride. Only in 2013 have I taken the trouble to attempt to photograph every anti-cycling sign I encountered.
Does anyone obey these signs? I certainly don't. When a sign is over-used it becomes totally devalued and a complete waste of money. And let us remind ourselves that Birmingham City Council have gotten themselves in serious financial difficulties.
Please do add additional cyclophobic signs in the comments section. I've set the images to display as 200 wide landscape, 150 wide portrait, so the list doesn't get unwieldy.
First published 6th January 2013
Updated 17th February 2013
18th September 2011
I encountered this one on NCN5 in the city centre whilst riding in primary behind a car. The car turned left, and I was faced with this sign blocking my exit from the carriageway. Naturally I dismounted in the middle of the carriageway. Various attempts were made by different people to move the sign to a more sensible position, but always it ended up in the same stupid and dangerous location.
As you can see from the ludicrously narrow two-way segregated cycle path on the Selly Oak bypass I am expected to cycle up to this End of Route sign. Then what? Push my bike along the pavement all the way to the end of the road? Doesn't that rather defeat the point of having a bike? Or maybe I'm supposed to rejoin the carriageway and ride continental style? Or am I supposed to run across the entire width of the A38 unassisted so I can cycle on the cycle path on the opposite side? Well personally I just ignore the Selly Oak bypass cycle lanes and ride on the carriageway.
22nd January 2012
I don't pretend to understand this sign on the Bristol Road between Bournville and Weoley Castle. The roundel says that it's Shared Use, the Cyclists Dismount plate says you must push your bike, so the two contradict each other. The plate has clearly been twisted through 45 degrees, but the sign only becomes even more bizarre if you twist it through 90 or 180 degrees.
Unless you ride your bike backwards you wont spot the point at which you can once again ride your bike whilst mounted. Right by the traffic light there is a similar sign pointing in the opposite direction.
Clearly having the same arrangement twice makes it twice as clear. This section runs as far as the traffic light, where there is the similar sign pointing in the opposite direction. Or does it? Half way between the two is a Shared Use sign without the Cyclists Dismount plate. There's nothing like totally confusing, misused signage to cause disagreement and collisions.
21st May 2012
This End of Route sign is on Reservoir Road in Selly Oak. It could say Cyclists Rejoin Carriageway, and there could be a fingerpost direction sign to point you in the right direction, but of course in cyclophobic Birmingham the more negative and useless the sign the better.
This Cyclists Dismount sign is right at the end of the Selly Oak Bypass. Just beyond the house on the extreme right is the end of the Harborne Lane cycle path (photo right), complete with another Cyclists Dismount sign, but joining the two would result in the end of time so it's critical that cyclists push their bike along this short length of tarmac.
8th July 2012
This End of Route sign is on the Harborne Walkway just a few hundred metres from the canal tow-path. Both are officially cycle routes, despite one being called a walkway. To the right of the photo there is a tarmacked path that runs beside the fence to the tow-path, but it was just too much trouble to continue the Harborne Walkway route right up to the canal.
This is the Harborne Walkway not far from the photo above. On the opposite side of the road it continues. Between the two there is a toucan crossing, two End of Route signs, two Cyclists Dismount signs, and two Shared Use signs, and for anyone too stupid to figure out this might be something to do with bikes, there are three signs warning of the presence of cyclists. There are no signs telling you where the walkway goes.
6th January 2013
This is my current favourite. My bike is on a shared use path. The road to the left is Vincent Drive, which is in part for cyclists and pedestrians only. However, to get from one to the other you are supposed to get off and push your bike for approximately one metre.
This is on Vincent Drive. For this one you cycle from the segregated cycle path on to the carriageway. There you have to get off and push your bike for a few metres across the traffic island and on to the carriageway again, where you can get back on your bike and continue your journey on the Vincent Drive cycleway.
Still on the Vincent Drive cycleway, at this point you have to dismount again, push your bike to the crossing, and on the opposite side you can get back on your bike again. From there you can head left towards the QE or right to the Selly Oak bypass, or carry on down Vincent Drive.
Money was found to erect an End of Route sign for cyclists heading up the hill to the hospital, which I guess means they had no money to provide a sign that directs cyclists to the opposite side where the path continues. Cyclists making this crossing are given no assistance at all, not even one of Birmingham's beloved pedestrian refuges (aka pinch point), let alone a cycling-specific feature such as a tiger crossing.
At the end of the road that leads down to University station there are two End of Route signs that achieve... what, exactly? But wait, there's more. In addition to the End of Route sign on the left, this small square sports three Cyclists Dismount signs:
This path and the one below are both in Beech Road, Bournville, and make a good route for cyclists. One can see that pedestrians don't exactly make heavy use of these paths, and they are wider than certain official cycle routes I have already mentioned. I've ridden down narrower paths in Germany that are clearly marked with Shared Use signs. Yet this being cyclophobic Birmingham, cycling is forbidden with a sign at each end, and my attempts to get the ban lifted have been met with months of silence from BCC.
The path here (opposite the one above) has recently been reconstructed by Amey. On either side of this point there are carefully reconstructed dropped kerbs. It would have cost literally nothing to merge the two together to provide easier access for both cyclists and motability scooters, but the opportunity was lost and now it will cost money to correct the situation. The combination of the sharp turn and the bollards must be particularly problematic for motability scooters (it's tricky enough on a bike).
7th January 2013
Birmingham City Council like to crow about the Rea Valley Route. They also like to close it on a regular basis. This time it's the bridge across the Rea on Dads Lane in Stirchley. The bridge section is no narrower than most of Rea Valley Route; indeed there are narrower sections. But BCC will find any excuse to close a cycle route for months on end. Why do they even bother with the signs depicting a bike?
This time it's not Birmingham City Council being cyclophobic, it's Cadbury. As you can see from the photo Birdcage Walk is wide and little used by pedestrians. This afternoon I encountered one person sitting on a wall using his phone, and a jogger. The former ignored me, and the latter gave me a cheery greeting. Neither complained about my bike. That's pretty much normal for Birdcage Walk. Indeed I've been cycling it for a couple of decades now, and not one person has so much as scowled at me. Positive reactions from pedestrians are quite common. Birdcage Walk would make an excellent cycling link from NCN5 and the Worcester Canal to Cadburyworld and Bournville Village Green, bypassing the busy and dangerous Linden Road. One would think Cadbury would want to encourage families of cyclists to visit Cadburyworld, but this is cyclophobic Birmingham.
The barrier has since been removed but the other prohibition signs remain. At the Bournville Lane end a short painted pedestrian path has been added that runs up to the ramp, implying that non-pedestrians should go via the wider ramp to the sports field. It remains to be seen if they are opening up the route to cyclists.
17th February 2013
Ripple Road in Stirchley is unusual in being cyclophilic. It has been closed at the junction with Twyning Road and gaps are provided for cyclists. However, there are no parking restrictions so drivers are free to block the gaps with their cars, and they do. So maybe the gaps are there just to stop the carriageway from turning into a shallow, cold swimming pool (thus putting it in competition with Cox Moors Wood leisure centre). Maybe it's cyclophobic after all, and this sign would seem to back that up. It appears to be saying that it is forbidden to bunny-hop over the kerb and railing (both way beyond my skills) and then ride across a piece of rough grass into the River Rea (an excellent cycle route similar to the Birmingham and Worcester canal tow-path). But I know better. This is a purely cyclophobic sign. Originally it faced the junction, thus making it completely illegal to cycle on any part of Ripple Road between Twyning Road and Cartland Road. What it means now I have no idea, so I'll continue to completely ignore it, along with all the other cyclophobic signs.
17th February 2013
27th March 2013
5th April 2013
I spotted a Cyclists Dismount sign up by the QE that I hadn't noticed before. Its location struck me as rather odd, so I started investigating. This is in fact placed on the path intended for cyclists going to and from the QE. You can see the cycle route restarts a few metres further along the path (where the solid white line starts). Is this to give cyclists a short break from cycling? Perhaps the thinking is too much exercise will result in a heart attack and consequently require the cyclist to make a nuisance of themselves at the adjacent hospital?
Looking the other way, things are not so clear. It says END on the sub-standard two-way cycle path, but it ends with give-way bars, so presumably one can continue. On the other hand on the back of the Cyclists Dismount sign above there's a Shared Use sign (implying the path doesn't switch to shared use at this point), so it does seem it is forbidden to cycle these few metres. Was it really too much trouble to continue the narrow "segregated" path this short distance?
Further back from the Cyclists Dismount sign we find this. Similarly it's not clear what is meant by this, but we know from the Shared Use sign one is allowed to cycle to this point in the opposite direction. So why END? Why not Shared Use? And if it is allowed to cycle past these give-way markings, does that not also mean one can cycle past the give-way markings above?
6th April 2013
Cycling up Priory Queensway I was pleased to find a cycle lane alongside Corporation Street. At the junction with High Street it gets a bit weird in that it briefly ramps on to the pavement for a few metres. The segregated on-pavement is not clear to pedestrians despite being marked with a painted bike symbol, so someone was wandering around on it as I joined this section. From there it continues contraflow down High Street, but at the bend it mysteriously joins the pavement and all the many pedestrians on it (ie the pavement is shared use). I gave up trying to cycle it, and after a few metres of walking I came across this Cyclists Dismount sign. Why doesn't the contraflow lane remain on the carriageway and then cross Carrs Lane into the near-car-free area creating easy access to the cycle stands beyond? I don't know. Perhaps because it allows the council to erect a Cyclists Dismount sign?