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Mail and Telegraph suggest Birmingham cycle lane has somehow caused congestion despite zero change to motor vehicle capacity

If you’re in a car, the road’s exactly the same. There was always congestion. This isn’t that complicated

The Telegraph and The Daily Mail aren’t going to let a small fact like a road being exactly the same as it’s always been keep them from blaming a cycle lane for ‘causing’ congestion. The newspapers have got Birmingham’s A34 in their sights this week. Apparently the congestion that the road’s long suffered is now because there’s a segregated cycle lane that was built in April without removing any motor traffic lanes.

In an article based solely on comments made on the local newspaper Facebook page, the Telegraph reports that “critics” say the cycleway is “little-used and causing major congestion”.

Those critics are people like welder Kevin Henley, 35, who said: "Traffic has been reduced to a single lane in parts and it is one of the busiest commuter routes into and out of the city."

Some guy called Paul Bryan added: "I work by the cycle lane. Not seen many use it at all, waste of money I think. Loads of cyclists just using the other lanes.”

Local resident Gareth Massey got in touch with road.cc to point out that while the A34 has been modified, it still has the same capacity for motor traffic as it has had for the last 20 years since the bus lane was added.

Referring to the Telegraph piece, he added: “The section in the photo shows the road over a canal bridge which is a restricted width and leads up to a major crossroads on Newtown Row. Rush hour Traffic has built up here 40+ years now. Nothing is different.”

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council confirmed that the A34 remains a dual carriageway, except where it was always briefly single lane coming out of the city at a junction.

The Mail’s version of the story is headlined, “Motorists slam cash-strapped council for spending £10million on 2.5-mile cycle highway that has 'caused traffic chaos and is barely used'.”

The funding for the cycle lane was largely from central government via Birmingham Cycle Revolution, while match funding provided by Birmingham City Council was ring-fenced anyway.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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21 comments

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ktache | 4 years ago
2 likes

Well done Anna.

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MrsAnnaSpanner | 4 years ago
1 like

UPDATE: The Telegraph are printing a correction tomorrow!!

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MrsAnnaSpanner | 4 years ago
2 likes

UPDATE: The Telegraph are printing a correction tomorrow!!

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MrsAnnaSpanner | 4 years ago
2 likes

UPDATE: The Telegraph are printing a correction tomorrow!!

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MrsAnnaSpanner | 4 years ago
4 likes

I've complained to IPSO about this and they've asked the Telegraph to address the complaint. The Telegraph have removed the article for inaccuracy, but I've also asked then to print a retraction or correction - waiting to hear back about that. Daily Mail don't seem to have the same regulation....

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AlsoSomniloquism | 5 years ago
2 likes

From yesterdays local newspaper. It is the same road some 5 miles on from the Cycle lanes.

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/officer-attacked-cop...

 I wonder if the Daily Nazis will write this up as

"since Police insist on arresting people on the road and getting themselves injured, people on social media have mentioned that congestion has increased. One local motorist said "It caused a load of traffic though, the road was blocked for a while which caused a backlog of traffic from the Scott Arms to town." We have contacted the council about this nuisance to our road users."

In all seriousness though, it is incidents like this and on the Aldridge Road, which is probably the biggest route leading off  the A34 for traffic, that actually causes a backlog all the way back. However for the ones deciding to moan in the local paper, they just see that they are sitting in a standstill next to the cycle lane and blame that rather then an RTA or breakdown or roadworks they don't actually encounter. 

BTW when Brum brings in their version of the Congestion charge, that road, which is also chocked going in on the other side without a bike lane, will be in it. I wonder what they will be moaning about then. 

 

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ubercurmudgeon | 5 years ago
3 likes

The Telegraph: Employer and stalwart publisher of the dribblings of Boris Johnson, ever since he was sacked as a junior reporter by The Times for fabricating quotes.

The Mail: A newspaper for people too thick to understand the long words used to spread lying, reactionary nonsense in The Telegraph.

Both stuffed full of car adverts. Both big proponents of Brexit. Neither fit to be used even for wrapping fish and chips.

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Richard D | 5 years ago
4 likes

"A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council confirmed that the A34 remains a dual carriageway, except where it was always briefly single lane coming out of the city at a junction."

And that is because the road goes over a bridge over the canal, and they decided a few decades back that it simply would not take the weight of four lanes of traffic even if they widened and strengthened that bridge. Every ten years or so they’ve mucked about a bit with where the bus lane starts and stops, but the one thing they haven’t changed - cannot change - is the fact that the road is down to a single lane in each direction at that pinch point.

Not ridden the A34 cycle path yet (I might in a couple of weeks time) but I’ve often cycled in the bus lane. There are a couple of hairy parts where drivers decide that they want to use the bus lane too, a few hundred yards sooner than the road markings allow.

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ktache | 5 years ago
1 like

Cheers for that, I didn't know you could do a time thing on streetview.  Nice.

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ktache | 5 years ago
2 likes

AlsoSomniloquism, any chance that you could come up with some streetview pics of before the cycle lane got put in?

I used to ride through Cannon Hill park every day for my job at the QE, I always found Birmingham to be nicer than getting about in Reading, which is nicer than Farborough and the bit of Surrey around Brookwood and Pirbright.  Only my opinion.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to ktache | 5 years ago
1 like

ktache wrote:

AlsoSomniloquism, any chance that you could come up with some streetview pics of before the cycle lane got put in?

Actually I misremembered. They narrowed it slightly and moved the bus lane start to further from the bridge end but still only single track. 
 

https://www.google.com/maps/@52.4895459,-1.8946354,3a,75y,159.75h,73.61t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s_jOXyKSzWWNihPxSh23tdg!2e0!5s20161001T000000!7i13312!8i6656

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Luca Patrono | 5 years ago
1 like

Journalists should have an obligation to create articles based on researched facts. If it is trivially proven that the people who hold the opinions the articles quote are in error, then there is no story.

Sadly, it doesn't come down to ethical standards, it comes down to lobby power, and the cycling lobby is not strong enough to repel this kind of trash.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Luca Patrono | 5 years ago
3 likes

Luca Patrono wrote:

Journalists should have an obligation to create articles based on researched facts. If it is trivially proven that the people who hold the opinions the articles quote are in error, then there is no story. Sadly, it doesn't come down to ethical standards, it comes down to lobby power, and the cycling lobby is not strong enough to repel this kind of trash.

 

But if you banned articles about 'what posters said on mumsnet' the Daily Mail would consist entirely of 'pictures of pop stars without many clothes' (not that there wouldn't still be an audience for that, mind).

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jacknorell replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 5 years ago
1 like
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

But if you banned articles about 'what posters said on mumsnet' the Daily Mail would consist entirely of 'pictures of pop stars without many clothes' (not that there wouldn't still be an audience for that, mind).

I can't see any way that would be anything but an improvement...!

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AlsoSomniloquism | 5 years ago
4 likes

As a resident who cycles the majority of that road I will add my tuppence. 

Firstly I will hold my hands up and state I don't use the lane due to my normal average speed and the handy bus lane still running next to it. It means I take my life in my own hands on the one roundabout I negotitate where the lane is but that it my responsibility. Unfortunately that means I make the idea of the lane look bad. However I also haven't noticed a clear increase in the amount of cyclists using it either but then most would have probably been pavement riding anyway before it was built.

The only "loss of capacity" is  actually in that picture shown in the Telegraph where the cycle lane took over the bus lane on that bridge so for about 50 metres the Buses and normal traffic merge. After that there are none and the traffic actually pictured is what would have been there whether the bike lane was there or not.

As mentioned it is a very selective picture but I do like the comment stating the bus lane and cycle lane was empty, obviously totally ignoring the fact that you rarely see buses and cycles traffic jamming in their respective lanes because they are a more efficient type of traffic. 

 

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EddyBerckx | 5 years ago
15 likes

Why are newspapers and journalists not held to account? Why is there no law stopping them from printing lies like this (and far, far worse) and getting away with it time and time again? Why are they allowed to subvert and utterly ruin democracy the way they do? Why is there no one in power with the balls to stand up to them?

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brooksby replied to EddyBerckx | 5 years ago
7 likes

StoopidUserName wrote:

Why are newspapers and journalists politicians not held to account? Why is there no law stopping them from printing saying lies like this (and far, far worse) and getting away with it time and time again? Why are they allowed to subvert and utterly ruin democracy the way they do? Why is there no one in power with the balls to stand up to them?

FTFY 

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hairyderriere replied to EddyBerckx | 5 years ago
5 likes

StoopidUserName wrote:

Why are newspapers and journalists not held to account? Why is there no law stopping them from printing lies like this (and far, far worse) and getting away with it time and time again? Why are they allowed to subvert and utterly ruin democracy the way they do? Why is there no one in power with the balls to stand up to them?

 

Make a complaint to IPSO, formerly the Press Complaints Commission.

https://www.ipso.co.uk/

 

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zanf replied to EddyBerckx | 5 years ago
5 likes

StoopidUserName wrote:

Why are newspapers and journalists not held to account? Why is there no law stopping them from printing lies like this (and far, far worse) and getting away with it time and time again? Why are they allowed to subvert and utterly ruin democracy the way they do? Why is there no one in power with the balls to stand up to them?

It's exactly why we needed Leveson 2

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to EddyBerckx | 5 years ago
2 likes

StoopidUserName wrote:

Why are newspapers and journalists not held to account? Why is there no law stopping them from printing lies like this (and far, far worse) and getting away with it time and time again? Why are they allowed to subvert and utterly ruin democracy the way they do? Why is there no one in power with the balls to stand up to them?

Playing devils advocate, the paper is printing a true article. The trouble is the article is about people posting on social media that they believe the cycle lanes have caused congestion and are a waste of money. All news sites including this one will be linking to items on twitter or facebook for article sources. The trouble is mostly those articles are opinions of a select few and are never then counter argued by anyone else before they are published.

Of course The Torygraph and Heil could always counter with other social media comments supporting it but they won't. However without those original posts then they would have had to actually investigate the traffic themselves or write an opinion piece and how they believe the traffic is being caused by the cycle lanes in which case then a complaint could be more readily lodged.

 

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Legs_Eleven_Wor... replied to EddyBerckx | 5 years ago
2 likes

StoopidUserName wrote:

Why are newspapers and journalists not held to account? 

Because there are absolutely no negative consequences to their doing so.  If every time a cyclist was deliberately killed or seriously injured*, a Daily Mail journalist got beaten slowly and methodically to death, then you can bet that their reporting 'style' (for want of a better term) would change pretty fucking sharpish.

* deliberately in this context means killed or seriously injured by the operator of a motor vehicle, without impartial, exculpatory evidence (camera footage or similar) that the act was not deliberate 

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