WE BELIEVE THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO SUPPORT ACTIVE TRAVEL AND ROAD SAFETY

The council’s current LTN implementation and the new LTN plans are unfair, ineffective and divisive.  Our starting point is to simply say that we don’t approve of the scheme. 

But it’s clear from all the local discussions about the plans, that people in our area are keen to see changes for the better, whether or not they are opposed to LTN roadblocks (modal filters). 


The council has been allocated money to support active travel, and we would like them to spend it in ways that will encourage and support this in more inclusive ways than the LTN modal filters.


We’ve listed below ideas that we think have potential to be more fair and effective than LTNs. 


We know our suggestions go beyond what is covered by the current Active Travel money from the government, and the council would need to look at funding or supporting some of them in other ways.  But there are also ideas in our list that will meet the government’s requirement for measures to support walking and cycling.  


We would like the council to spend the active travel money on some of these sorts of things, instead of on bollards and planters to block off roads! 


We think that some of the ideas we’ve listed will be ones that the council doesn’t control on its own.  For these things, we would like the council to use its voice and influence with partner organisations such as the West Midlands Combined Authority and Transport for West Midlands. 


None of this is intended to come close to being a prescription – it’s simply some alternatives to modal filters, which we think deserve further thought.

 

ENCOURAGING AND SUPPORTING PEDESTRIANS

(WHEELCHAIRS AS WELL AS WALKING)

  • Additional pedestrian crossings, with some in the form of pedestrian lights or a zebra crossing.  Take account of local feedback, including from the consultation, to decide on locations. 

  • Make road crossing easier - additional dipped kerbs, and with central reservations, where applicable. All done to the appropriate standards for people with disabilities.

  • Seek out and listen to direct input from people with different types of disabilities to see what else can be done to make getting around the area easier. 

  • Maintain pavements better. Uneven paving is difficult if using a stick, mobility walker or wheelchair, but is a potential hazard for all users.

  • Reduce pavement clutter.

 

CYCLING

The cycle infrastructure created by the LTN plans is very limited – in particular it does not come even close to joining up with other cycle routes. So instead of LTNs…

  • Create well-maintained, safe and connected cycle routes.  

  • Use the existing main cycle arteries such as the A38 and River Rea routes as starting points – extend new cycle infrastructure out from these routes so that there is more instant connectivity.

  • Provide secure bicycle storage parking in and around Kings Heath High Street and centre of Moseley.  Possibly other locations (like MAC?) – but key for any of this is to get direct input from cyclists about where they cycle (or want to cycle) and where secure storage would make a real difference. 

  • If Council rents space for secure cycle storage from a third party (e.g. owner of car park), explore whether lease payments can be paid in advance, so that the current pot of money can be used to fund it for a forward period. 

  • Investigate viability of bike storage and changing/ showering facilities in any locations where there are lots of nearby workplaces where employers (such as smaller businesses) are unable to provide these facilities for workers.

  • A blitz on repairing potholes – especially any that have been flagged up by cyclists as being particularly problematic.

  • Improve the River Rea cycle route, especially towards the city centre end - better lighting, signage and general safety improvements.  (Consult cyclists who are deterred from using this route, to get more detailed insight into key ways to improve it).

  • Very quickly sort out the Kent St section of the Bristol Rd/ A 38 route (near Hurst St) that’s closed at the moment.  At the very least – better signage between city centre and A38 cycle route.

  • Although issues of safety affect both men and women, in view of the particular concerns voiced by women, make sure any feedback on cycling safety includes suggestions and comments from women about what they would need to support them cycling into the city centre and on various other routes.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Making buses into cleaner, more appealing, respectful and pleasant vehicles to use for travel.  Concerns about these issues come up time and time again when talking to people about their barriers to using buses.

  • During the continuing Covid situation – reintroduce mandatory face coverings on local public transport to help concerned residents feel safer. 

  • A time-limited campaign of ‘bus credits’ or free tickets to persuade people to check out bus journeys again.

  • Getting routes more reliable and frequent (Making bus services faster, cheaper and safer)

  • Improving bus accessibility in the big areas that aren’t adjacent to frequent bus routes e.g. routes using smaller buses on roads like Dawberry Fields & Yarningale

  • Improve provision of bus routes that don’t follow the main arterial routes into the city. 

  • Consult people who are eligible for Ring & Ride to check whether there’s wide enough awareness, and also whether it needs any additional resourcing or other changes/ developments in order to meet needs.  

  • Any scope for Park & Ride schemes?

  • Pressure and investment from BCC to make sure all the Camp Hill railway line stations open on time. (Already drifted to 2023 – MUST NOT slip any later).

  • Visible pressure from BCC to get funding to increase the frequency of trains on the new Camp Hill route


Important note about public transport and the active travel funding

Whilst we are aware that the Active Travel funding from central government does not cover public transport, we considered it important to include it here.   

Birmingham is a large city, covering an area of more than 100 square miles, where people often live some distance from workplace, family, friends, shopping centre, school…

Any campaign to reduce people’s reliance on cars is incomplete and inadequate if it fails to deliver improved public transport.  This is a key element of any workable, attractive and integrated set of alternatives to travel by private motor vehicle.   

 

SCHOOL TRAVEL

  • Dedicated school buses for secondary schools where clusters of pupils travel from further away

  • Professionally-organised Walking Buses for primary schools – and make sure that funding can be committed for long enough in advance to make it worthwhile setting them up.  

  • In general, the council to engage more deeply with secondary schools, pupils and parents regarding the issue of school travel.
    The aims:
    - insight into why some parents and pupils are worried about independent travel
    - to hear their ideas - what would make a difference and help to reduce barriers and worries?  

 

ACTIVE TRAVEL & REDUCING RELIANCE ON THE CAR

  • Gain a deeper understanding of what active travel means for people with different types of disability - and what support is needed. Because of the close relationship between travel (of any type) and disabilities that involve mobility or sight impairments, make sure to get insight from people with these disabilities.  But also hear from people with other, less visible disabilities.

  • Establish a network of remote working hubs – to help further reduce congestion and pollution.

  • Incentives for car-sharing and practical support for employers who want to design and promote a car-sharing scheme amongst their employees

  • Focus on getting excellent alternative provision for Active Travel in place, instead of trying to use LTNs to force people to change mode before adequate alternatives are in place.  

  • Encourage & promote pay per mile car insurance. With less prepayment of standing costs for the car, this reduces the cost of simply owning a car at the same time as slightly increasing the cost of each mile driven.  Provides an incentive to keep mileage down and can deliver a cost saving for drivers who keep mileage low.  

 

OTHER SAFETY MEASURES

  • Better signage and enforcement to support 20mph limits.

  • Periodic 20mph publicity campaigns to increase awareness of a growing number of 20mph areas and to encourage compliance.  

  • Lighting & other measures to make sure streets are as safe as possible after dark - supporting travel by public transport, on foot or by bike.  

  • More visible and effective action against pavement parking, blocking of dropped kerbs and parking too close to junctions

  • Make canal towpaths safer for both pedestrians and cyclists

 

IMPROVING HOW LOCAL ROADS FUNCTION

  • New or improved traffic calming measures – making sure they’re cycle-friendly.  The Council’s plans seem to regard traffic calming measures as an added extra, but by making roads safer, we feel that they can be a more inclusive way of encouraging more active modes of travel.    

  • Some of the proposed one-way systems from the Option plans but without modal filters, and with the plans modified as necessary.  (Any lessons learnt from recently-introduced one-way restrictions to some residential streets in South and South-West Birmingham?)  

  • Additional road signage and / or road markings.

  • Parking on Kings Heath High Street.  Whether or not general on-street parking is restored, create some marked, large bays for blue badge holders, designed to make it easier to get a wheelchair out of the vehicle. 

 

PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN

A big local campaign to encourage more bus travel, walking, cycling & wheeling. Make it encouraging in tone and publicise 'carrots' like new pedestrian crossings & well-located secure bike storage. 

 

OTHER THINGS TO LOOK AT GOING FORWARD…

  • Electric vehicle battery charging infrastructure to support the transition to electric vehicles.  We welcome the recent announcement from BCC on this and are keen to see more.

  • Car clubs – perhaps focused on electric cars.  Car clubs may support some households in deciding not to have a second car - or not to have a car at all. 

  • Explore effectiveness and viability of providing various types of incentive for switching to more active and environmentally friendly modes of travel. 

  • If taking forward any ideas, look at scope for technology and apps to support and monitor the incentivised behaviour changes.