England’s second largest city is aiming to achieve a 'Birmingham Cycle Revolution' as it finalises its bid for a slice of government cash aimed at helping cities in England outside the capital to boost levels of cycling. Birmingham City Council will outline its proposals and invite feedback from cyclists at a Cycle Forum to be held next Tuesday 16 April.
The council says that its bid for Department for Transport Cycle City Ambition cash, if successful, will provide “substantial funds to radically improve cycle networks, transform cycling in and around our great city and kick start an ambitious 20 year Big Cycling Plan.”
Details of that plan are contained in a comprehensive, 83-page report published on Tuesday by Birmingham City Council’s Transport, Connectivity & Sustainability Committee, called Changing Gear – Transforming Urban Movement through Cycling and Walking in Birmingham. You can download a copy here.
The report calls on the council’s leader and cabinet to set out “a transformative ambition for movement… which is responsive to the person, place, growth, health and cohesion objectives of the city,” and which “must include an ambitious, target-driven strategy for improving cycling and walking in Birmingham.”
Its authors say that lines of responsibility, targets and milestones should all be clearly set out, and that “This ambition should have the effect of putting cycling and walking on a par with cars and public transport movement in the city.”
The appointment of a cycling champion from among the city’s elected councillors is one recommendation, with others including:
That facilities and routes for pedestrians and cyclists are continuously improved and new road schemes… consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists at design stage.
That the Birmingham Urban Mobility Plan explicitly set out the role that the canal network can play in improving sustainable movement for pedestrians and for cyclists in and around the city.
That the resourcing of cycling in schools is explored as a means of delivering the national curriculum physical education requirement, and that Bikeabilty training is encouraged across all schools.
That the City Centre is made safely accessible by pedestrians and cyclists, and that public transport hubs are connected by cycling and walking routes, and that existing cycle routes are assessed and improved to join up the cycle network around the city.
The £30 million ‘Cycle City Ambition’ funding was announced by transport minister Norman Baker in January, who said: “We are serious about cycling, as this latest wave of funding shows.
“We have already seen how schemes can quickly deliver economic and environmental benefits, as well as improving public health.
"Anyone who rides a bike will know it is important to keep the impetus going and this record level of funding will provide a shot in the arm to cycling in England.
"Our ambition is to get people cycling more safely and more often.”
Besides Birmingham, the cities eligible to bid for part of that £30 million include Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
All of those showed solid growth in the proportion of residents using a bicycle as their main mode of commuting between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, with the exception of Birmingham, where growth was minimal, and Nottingham, where it actually fell.
Birmingham now sits bottom of that list of cities for commuting by bicycle, having been leapfrogged by Leeds and Sheffield, and just 1.44 per cent of people use a bike to commute.
That's up slightly from 1.40 per cent a decade earlier and well below half the levels seen in Manchester or Nottingham, and less than a fifth of those in Bristol, at 7.5 per cent, although the latter's former Cycling City status partly explains growth there.
The council’s Birmingham Cycle Revolution aims to change that, among other things, and its 20-year vision for how to achieve a change in the city’s attitudes towards the bicycle will be the main focus of that Cycle Forum next Tuesday.
Held at Austin Court, Cambridge Street, Brindley Place, B1 2NP from 6.15pm to 8.00pm – doors open at 6pm, with tea and coffee available first – spaces are limited, so anyone wishing to attend should email cycling [at] birmingham.gov.uk or call 0121 303 7683 to book their place.
You can also pledge your support to Birmingham Cycle Revolution here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.