Birmingham is making space for cycling

The Birmingham Cycle Revolution is underway

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Birmingham looks set to become a more cycling-friendly city, with plans for two new segregated cycle lanes on the horizon, including one along the A38 from Selly Oak to the City Centre.

An £11 million pound budget has been allocated to this scheme, which will result in two-way cycle paths allowing cyclists to travel with confidence on all-weather lanes, segregated from other traffic.

The Birmingham Cycle Revolution have so far overseen the refurbishment of many of the canal pathways around the city, making the routes much more accessible for cyclists. Further development in this area is also a key part of the plan for a greener city.

Cabinet Member for Transport and Roads at Birmingham City Council, Stewart Stacey, has commented, “Cycling is an affordable and sustainable form of transport which can open up previously inaccessible opportunities, including employment opportunities for young people by enabling them to travel to work or training.”

A human on a bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation on land, in terms of energy needed to transport a person per km. This makes an increase in cycling vital for a viable future of transportation, and essentially, the creation of a safer cycling space will increase the number of journeys we see being made by bike.

This is in accordance with the laws of induced demand; when more roads are built, more cars are used, but when more cycle paths are built, more bikes will be used. This makes investing in cycling infrastructure just about the most effective thing we can do to improve sustainable transportation.

Dominic Smith, who was on the team that created a comparable scheme in Manchester, kindly agreed to an interview call. He confirmed that their investment in infrastructure – similar to what is planned in Birmingham – has already seen a significant increase in journeys being made by bike.

Mr Smith told the Tab that 98% of the current population don’t cycle, and the reason why comes back the same, again and again: they’re too scared. The roads in Birmingham can be very dangerous, especially when drivers aren’t necessarily expecting cyclists, which is why these planned segregated paths are so vital.

A report conducted by Bike Life revealed that many people wish to cycle more often, with 77% saying protected bike lanes would help their confidence and allow them to do so. Given that cycling is free, environmentally friendly, and good for your health, the creation of these bike lanes will be a brilliant opportunity for that 77%.

Construction is scheduled to start next year, with completion due by the end of 2018. Local authorities have stated that they want 5% of all journeys in Birmingham to be made on bike by 2023, and 10% by 2033.

In the words of HG Wells, “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race… cycle tracks will be abound in Utopia”.

Utopia here we come.