As the recent City Centre road improvements consultation showed a worrying lack of concern for the needs of cycle users by WMCA transport designers, Push Bikes is sending an open letter to Andy Street on this issue. The West Midlands Combined Authority has been making good noises about cycling in their Cycling Charter and Movement for Growth transport plan, but if the engineers keep on producing designs from the 1990s, there will be no hope of achieving WMCA's ambitious target of 10% modal share for cycle users by 2033.
Our open letter:
Dear Andy Street,
I am writing this letter on behalf of Push Bikes, Birmingham's cycle campaign. We were very pleased by the funding commitments that you have made and the tone set by Movement for Growth and the WMCA Cycle Charter. However, we are concerned that the plans for a new bus gate on Bath Row show a lack of coordination between WMCA projects and local authorities’ cycling network plans.
The proposals for the Bath Row bus gate completely ignore the Birmingham Cycle Revolution route passing across the mouth of Bath Row on its way from Five Ways to Bristol Street. Movement for Growth, section 4.50, says that cycle routes will need well designed junctions where they cross main roads, but this scheme does not deliver that. The WMCA Cycle Charter states that any highways schemes built in the West Midlands should not require “expensive retrofitting” of cycle infrastructure later on. As the plans do not have any provision for cycle users, let alone infrastructure “referenc[ing] European best practice”, it is clear that expensive retrofitting later on will be necessary in order to provide the facilities necessary for cycles at this junction. That would be a pointless and avoidable waste of money.
Please can you:
- Ask the highways engineers to re-draw the bus gate plans, referencing “European best practice” as promised in the WMCA Cycle Charter.
- Instruct WMCA officers to engage with the appropriate cycle campaigners during the early stages of the planning process for all schemes, as promised in the WMCA Cycle Charter.
- Instruct WMCA officers to take into account the cycling network plans of local authorities so that WMCA projects can support the development of local cycling networks as well as the WM strategic network.
In order to achieve the £10 per head per year spending on cycling that you have committed to, every new road scheme must have appropriate cycling infrastructure designed in from the start. This would deliver cycling infrastructure in the most cost-effective manner, as well as getting us closer to ensuring your spending commitment is met.
Chair of Push Bikes, Birmingham's cycle campaign.