Following the announcement of the latest phase of Birmingham Cycle Revolution, local campaigners have expressed concerns that other cities around the UK are getting higher quality cycle infrastructure. “We would really like Birmingham to be leading the UK in setting standards for cycle infrastructure, but that doesn't seem to be happening,” said Chris Lowe, chair of Push Bikes.
Earlier this week, Birmingham announced a series of schemes intended to improve cycling along major city routes. £2.8m is to be spent on a number of projects as part of the latest phase of Birmingham Cycle Revolution (BCR). However, Lowe feels that some of the routes being planned have been affected by compromises.
Birmingham's original bid to the Department for Transport covered a much larger cycle network than other cities. While Lowe thinks this is important if Birmingham is to become a truly cycle friendly city, he points out that a larger network is more difficult to deliver.
“That focus on the network did result in the initial money being spread thinly over a wide number of routes, with the consequence that the quality of the infrastructure has suffered.
“Cycling in bus lanes was the least popular form of cycle infrastructure in the recent Bike Life report, but does form significant lengths of some of the routes. Shared use pavements are also a significant part of the routes, but the pavements are unlikely to be re-laid, and we have had issues with arguing for priority over side-roads.”
In stakeholder meetings, Push Bikes has been arguing for a high level of spending on fewer routes. Despite this, Lowe feels the Birmingham Cycle Revolution team are heeding lessons from the initial routes and believes there are plenty of positives in the upcoming improvement projects.
“There will be wide mandatory cycle lanes on Wheeler Street, with protection for the cycle lanes at the numerous speed-bumps along that road. This is a parallel route that will give a link from Handsworth into the city centre, and the design of the conflict management between cycle lanes and the speed bumps will provide a good example for future cycle lane design in Birmingham.”
In addition to this, he points to the Soho Road and Alcester Road routes, planned for delivery between spring 2016 and September 2016, which have 1.6m plus mandatory cycle lanes planned for much of their lengths, and also the 3m wide two-way cycle tracks planned for Bristol Street and Harborne Road.