Birmingham Cycle Revolution plans published as city finalises DfT funding bid

Council committee in England's second biggest city unveils its 20-year vision for cycling

by Simon_MacMichael   April 10, 2013  


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 or call 0121 303 7683 to book their place.

You can also pledge your support to Birmingham Cycle Revolution here.

5 user comments

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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.

It's horrid, isn't it? Stormin' Norman waves around £30m as if it's a big deal. Meanwhile, the Government sneaks out a little announcement (not even on the DfT website) of £98m - yes, £98m - for motorists "to boost the economy and reduce congestion". It's like 'Roads for Prosperity' all over again, but on the QT.

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [142 posts]
11th April 2013 - 9:35


Birmingham has to be the least cycle friendly city in the UK. I worked there for 11 years and almost never saw anyone commuting by bike because it is just too dangerous.

Its s shame the report couldn't be written in plain English.

posted by lycra vs lager [20 posts]
11th April 2013 - 10:11


I can vouch for the fact that there are now more bike commuters in Brum (over the last 12 months or so) You do have to pick your route very carefully as lots of the arterial routes have very narrow lanes & everybody's in a hurry !


posted by Timsen [71 posts]
11th April 2013 - 12:55


I used to commute from Handsworth Wood to Castle Bromwich by bike years ago. Which was fine, and quicker than sitting on the M6 in a car.

It never occured to me to go into the city centre by bike - it is just about the most car centred place I know in the UK.


posted by Edgeley [242 posts]
11th April 2013 - 17:43


Being a Brummie I would welcome any investment, as at the moment there is very little to encourage cycling in and around the City. The neighboring Counties of Warwickshire and Staffordshire are very different in their attitude, where Tamworth for example has a lot of cycle routes available in comparison.

There is very little cycle awareness in Birmingham, as someone has already mentioned, where most people seem to be in a hurry on congested and tight roads. If a recent example is to go by, where a cycle lane has been lined out on a local road on the up-hill section only and where cars are parking in it, then I don't hold out much hope. Until they adopt an attitude of planning routes into new schemes instead of putting all the emphasis on motor vehicles, nothing will change (and yes I do drive). And yes there is the canal route; narrow, full of debris, overgrown and mostly unlit. I am a keen cyclists but I would not even entertain the idea of cycling in and around the city roads. I stick to rural and country routes and head into the neighboring Counties

posted by Andyd64 [14 posts]
12th April 2013 - 15:45