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Birmingham’s ‘cycle revolution’ picks up speed

Source: Public Sector Executive Oct/Nov 2014

Cllr Lisa Trickett, cabinet member for a green, smart and sustainable city at Birmingham City Council, discusses the development of a new cycle hire scheme, which the local authority hopes will help make cycling a key part of the transport mix in the city.

A new cycle hire scheme has been launched in Birmingham as part of a £140,000 project involving the city council, local transport authority and train operator.

The first of three Brompton Dock facilities, which each provide the public with access to 20 Brompton folding bikes, has been unveiled at Moor Street station, with two more planned for the stations at Snow Hill and New Street.

Train operator London Midland secured £90,000 for the scheme through the Department for Transport’s Cycle-Rail Fund, with Birmingham City Council contributing the rest of the money and public transport co-ordinator Centro also supporting the project.

Cllr Lisa Trickett, cabinet member for a green, smart and sustainable city at Birmingham City Council, told PSE: “We pursued the scheme because we have established a plan to improve cycling across the city called ‘Birmingham Cycle Revolution’, which looks to totally change the way people – everyone from businesspeople through to children – move about the city.”

Birmingham’s Bromptons

Users must register online and after selecting the date, location and time they wish to hire a bike, they will be sent a unique PIN code to their mobile phone, allowing them access to the bikes.

There is no time limit to how long people can hire the bikes, with a daily charge applied to the account holder’s credit or debit card – £2.50 per day for people registered as ‘frequent users’ and £5 for ‘occasional users’.

Cllr Trickett said: “The Brompton scheme is not aimed at people who are new to cycling: this is very much for people like the business person who will cycle into Birmingham quite often. But on the day they’re going to places like London or Manchester, it is easier to hire a folding bike that they can take on the train, use wherever they go, and drop back off at the dock.”

She added that the scheme is also being promoted to cyclists in the public sector, with the council looking at its “established cycle networks and green spaces”.

“A large proportion of the people at the university, and say the Queen Elizabeth hospital live in my ward, Moseley and Kings Heath,” she said. “We’re connecting up, through the cycle route, really good access to the university and hospital through green spaces.”

There are also plans for a cycle hub at the hospital and university.

Cycling infrastructure

In August 2013, it was revealed that Birmingham City Council’s bid for a Department for Transport Cycle City Ambition Grant had been successful.

The local authority was given £17m, which has been topped up by its own funding to deliver cycling improvements worth £24.3m. The money will be used to make it easier and safer for people to cycle in the city and allows the council to deliver the first phase of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution.

In June, the first canal cycling towpath route was opened, stretching from St Vincent Street Bridge near Brindleyplace to Winson Green, kick-starting a raft of improvements and initiatives that will be carried out through the Birmingham Cycle Revolution over the next 18 months.

The 2.2km towpath, which runs up to the border with Sandwell, is one of six canal routes the council is improving with the help of the Canal & River Trust. It is also one of the busiest routes, with 50,153 cyclists counted along the stretch over a year – an average of 137 bikes passing per day.

Cllr Trickett added: “We’re also putting out a series of cycle pathway improvements and parallel routes on our main roads, and adjacent roads, to encourage cycling.

“We’ve also got, running in tandem, 20mph pilot areas. So, again, we put cycle lanes in and then make those key roads 20mph and have zones around schools.

“For me, it is about creating the conditions that promote a change in behaviour. These pilots have been really well-received. I think 20mph is a no-brainer in this city. We face gridlock, and we face people driving at unsafe speeds.

“I always give the comparison that 20 years ago we used to smoke in pubs; now that is totally unacceptable. We have to get to the point where it is unacceptable to drive at unsafe speeds through residential areas where pedestrians have equal rights.”

Through the towpath and cycling route improvements, as well as increasing access to bikes for residents, the local authority has a vision to make cycling an everyday way to travel in Birmingham over the next 20 years.

As part of the Cycle Revolution, the council wants to have 5% of all trips in the city to be made by bike by 2023 and to double this again to 10% by 2033. “This will help to make our city healthier, greener, safer and less congested,” added Cllr Trickett.

(Image: BCC slash Simon Hadley)

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