Report on the Cycle Forum, 25th Feb 2015.

Cycle forum

The first Birmingham City Council Cycle Forum for 2015 was held on Wednesday 25th February. The presentation slides from the forum should be available soon on the Birmingham Cycle Forum website but here is a summary of what was presented. The main topics were the progress on the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, a report from Hunters Hill College on how they are using cycling to engage with their students, and an update on the next phase of Bike North Birmingham, transitioning into Bike North Birmingham Community Cycling. 

Hunters Hill College

There was a presentation by Hunters Hill Technology College, which takes in students who have been excluded from other schools. They have students mainly from the 2 most deprived areas of Birmingham. Cycling has been something that they have used to give their students a positive experience, and one of their students has now been doing work experience at Cycle Chain. The students have ridden the Coast to Coast route that starts in the Lake District and crosses the Pennines and are now planning to ride from the north to the south of Wales! They will be participating in the North to South Triathlon Challenge, swimming, running and riding through Wales, from the 18th to 21st May. Further details can be found on their fund raising site

Bike North Birmingham Update

The Bike North Birmingham (BNB) programme has reached the end of its funded period, and the cycling development side of the project is now transitioning into Bike North Birmingham Community Cycling (Bike North Birmingham also included the building of cycle routes across their area, details of which can be found on their website). The BNB team gave us a report on their success stories from the project:

  • 300 people who had never cycled before learnt how to cycle.
  • 700 of the people who went on the led rides were shown cycle paths that they hadn’t known existed
  • 400 people who didn’t know how to maintain a bike were taught how to
  • 45% of the participants were BME (Black and ethnic minorities)
  • 65% of the participants were women

Over half of the people who are now volunteering with BNB only learnt how to ride through BNB. Word-of-mouth advertising was an important part of bringing people to BNB, and the team told us that in many communities the way in was through word-of-mouth that BNB was a trusted organisation.

BNB surveyed the people who had participated in BNB, and had some interesting stats:

  • 45% reported that after participating in BNB, they had increased the exercise that they did
  • 35% reported that they now did more than 5 x 30 minutes exercise each week
  • 50% reported that they had bought their own bike after participating in BNB

We were also told a couple of individual success stories:

  1. One unemployed person had used their BNB bike to increase the range of job hunting that they did from a couple of miles to 5 or 6 miles. As a consequence they had found work in the centre of Birmingham. The BNB programme was a contributing factor to helping that person find a job and keep it.
  2. We heard from someone who had been on anti-depressants and had gained weight before taking part in the BNB programme. They now had found that regular participation in cycling and in helping other people to cycle had helped their depression and they had returned to their previous weight.

As Bike North Birmingham Community Cycling, they will offer similar things to the BNB project, such as training, led rides, maintenance courses, and also look at MTB courses to reach a wider audience. Their new website is not ready yet - should hopefully be launched soon though, and we'll publicise it when it is launched. BNB Community Cycling want to maximise their reach by teaching other people how to teach people to ride. The idea is that when they reach out to a community, they want to train people within that community to be able to help other people to ride, maintain bikes, etc. The idea is that the community will have further buy-in to the programme if their own members are trained to help others, and that the training will continue when the BNBCC trainers have to move on to help out another community.

Birmingham Cycle Revolution Updates

There were a lot of details in this update, with just a brief summary of the main points below. Councillor Lisa Trickett emphasised the need to celebrate the successes of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, to show cross-community support for the improvements that are being made. Sometimes our default can be to focus on bad things and complain about those, but we must also make sure that where good improvements are made, we support them.

At the moment the most visible changes, the highways works on main roads, have not started. As they do, Push Bikes will keep you up-dated and organised rides to test out the new facilities to give feedback (positive and negative) to Birmingham City Council. The main corridor routes will be going to cabinet members for approval over the next couple of months, which will be followed by traffic regulation order (TRO) consultations before work commences in late spring and finishes in late summer this year. Alcester Road and Bristol Street will be first in March, then followed by Soho Road, which needs full cabinet approval as it is more expensive. Lichfield Road and Nechells Parkway will go for approval at the end of March, with the Perry Barr and South East parallel routes in April. There will soon be a TRO consultation for the Central South Birmingham 20mph area, which will then be rolled out in late spring. The TRO consultations for Central East Birmingham and the City Centre will follow shortly afterwards. Push Bikes will put details of the TRO consultations on our website and encourage responses supportive of measures helping cycling.

Several canal access schemes will be implemented this spring as well, at Birmingham University and Islington Row. Designs are being drawn up for access at the Ackers and Erdington Hall Bridge and Northbrook Street, at the end of the Harborne Walkway. The Canal and River Trust will be sweeping the excess grit off the tow path works that have been done starting on the 11th March, so please let us know what the swept surface is like for cycling.

Most of the phase 1 green routes have been finished. At the Dingles (Hall Green), an eco-grid surface was used, because of local conservation issues. This is an experiment, so if you ride this route, please let us know what you think and we'll pass on your comments to the BCR team. The eco-grid surface allows grass to grow through while protecting the soil surface from wear, and is intended to provide a more sensitive solution than a standard tarmac path.

The locations receiving parking grants through the Top Cycle Location programme have been chosen and the money will be distributed soon. Further details of the locations will hopefully be released soon.

Big Birmingham Bikes

The first 1500 bikes have been allocated, with the draw for the next 1500 bikes happening at the end of March. The recipients of the bikes have started their training courses, and the bikes will be delivered later in March. For details of how to apply for a Big Birmingham Bike, see their website. Please send us photos of the bikes when you see them out and about.

The 22 Big Birmingham Bike hubs being delivered across Birmingham through this programme will be rolled out soon (details on the Big Birmingham Bikes website). This will include adapted bikes for people with disabilities at Alexander Stadium and a South Side venue. There have been 150 applications for training to be instructors and ride leaders, and the next set of training sessions will be in March.