This year saw Birmingham City Council (BCC) moving from 120 councillors in 3-member wards, to 101 councillors in a mix of 1 and 2 member wards. We have also moved from council elections for a third of the councillors each year (with one year of rest) to an all-out system of elections every four years. Labour won in Birmingham again, with 69 seats against the Conservative's 25 seats. There has been some change in the cabinet, with a new lead on Transport, Waseem Zaffer, as Stewart Stacey did not stand for re-election this year. You can find out who your new local councillor is on the BCC website - you can also find their email address on there too.
It is important that we try to build more support for cycling among Birmingham's councillors - both in the ruling Labour group and in the opposition Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Green. As part of that process, Push Bikes will be writing to all councillors to congratulate them on winning their seat and inviting them to come to the Let's Ride Birmingham event on June 10th. However your voice, as a local voter, will be as important to your local councillors as ours, so we would also like you to contact them and invite them to the event.
When you write to them, please be polite and positive about some of the improvements being made for cycling in Birmingham, while letting them know that you want more done. Local councillors do not normally receive letters or emails asking them to do more for cycling - every email counts! Some possible talking points you might include are:
- Local health services in the West Midlands are coming under increasing strain from budget cuts and increasing demand. It is essential that active travel is encouraged to reduce this strain. The health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks of injury by roughly 20:1, with 45% lower risk of developing cancer or cadiovascular disease for people who cycle to work rather than driving or taking public transport. (See Cycling UK's factsheet for more details.)
- The Birmingham City Council, through the Birmingham Cycle Revolution schemes, aims to increase the number of journeys made by bicycle to 10% of journeys by 2033. They are trying to do this by providing safe comfortable space for cycling on main roads as well as using quieter green routes and the canals. To be able to use a bicycle, the journey from door to door needs to be comfortable and attractive, but many of Birmingham's roads are scary for people on bicycles. The work of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution is very important in making cycling conditions on our roads better.
- The Big Birmingham Bikes scheme, as part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, has been very successful in getting more people active, with 20 new community cycling groups set up across Birmingham, introducing cycling to a diverse group of people. Their success in reaching women and BAME communities has led to new investment from British Cycling and Cycling UK. They have recently started a kids' bike library to help families as their children grow up, as well as running the Wheels for All disabled cycling group. Big Birmingham Bikes won the Ashden award in 2017 for Clean Air in Towns and Cities. Birmingham is setting an example for the rest of the UK in how to get all people cycling, not just white middle-class men.