Birmingham City Council has released details of several schemes to help encourage more people to walk and cycle safely as the UK lockdown eases.
The schemes, which include pop-up cycle lanes, pavement widening and road closures to create low traffic neighbourhoods, are part of a package of active travel measures developed with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and partner councils across the West Midlands region.
Birmingham City Council has been allocated £1 million from the first tranche of the Department of Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund, with match-funding bringing the total to £1.6 million.
There are 14 schemes outlined for delivery in Birmingham over the coming weeks. The project bids were submitted to the Department of Transport on 5th June. They include:
– Temporary pop-up cycle lanes on seven priority cycle routes to connect into the city centre, with existing cycle infrastructure, to key employment sites and other major destinations
– A Park and Pedal programme to provide park and cycle options at rail station car parks and other suitable locations. These facilities will largely link into current cycle routes, but some short temporary spurs may be required to link to these places
– The launch of Places for People to create low traffic neighbourhoods across Birmingham, created by using bollards or planters to close roads to through-traffic and make walking and cycling safer for local journeys
– Reallocation of road space and pavement widening in two local centres – Stirchley and Moseley – to create space for walking and social distancing. Aligned with other measures to support business spill-out activity in these areas, including the return of the popular Moseley Farmers’ Market
The City Centre Traffic Cells Initiative, proposed in the draft Birmingham Transport Plan, will also be brought forward, with the aim of creating a less traffic dominated environment and providing people wishing to travel to the city centre with safer alternatives to private cars. This will include the introduction of bus gates, banning some turning manoeuvres, and introducing contraflow cycling on one-way streets.
The schemes are being bought forward for delivery as part of the Emergency Transport Plan, published last month by Birmingham City Council. The plan sets out the short, medium and longer-term actions Birmingham can take to enable a low carbon, clean air recovery from COVID-19.
The council is keen to deliver the schemes quickly, to enable people to start moving around the city safely as lockdown measures are eased. It is anticipated that the majority of the schemes outlined in the bid to the Department of Transport will be delivered in the next two months.
Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE, cabinet member for transport and environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “Whilst Birmingham has been in lockdown, we have seen road traffic reduce by 60% over several weeks, and more people taking up walking and cycling. This has many benefits from improved air quality to healthier citizens.
“I want us to do everything we can to support this trend and ensure that walking and cycling continues to increase even after lockdown is over. COVID-19 has had a massive impact, but we must find the opportunities from it and use lessons learned to deliver a green, sustainable recovery for our city.”
Work is continuing to identify further schemes to be delivered through a second tranche of funding for this programme, as well as considering how some of these initial measures can be converted to more permanent arrangements.