West Midlands to get £85m to fix potholes

potholes

  Image by Alan Stanton

 

The West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority will get a total of £85,055,000 to tackle its potholes.

 In the West Midlands region, the funds include the following local authorities:

  1. Coventry
  2. Dudley
  3. Sandwell
  4. Solihul
  5. Walsall
  6. Wolverhampton.

This is a part of the total £6 billion funds of announced today by the Department for Transport (DfT) for improving local roads between 2015 to 2021. It aims to help English local authorities fix 18 million potholes with these funds.

Over £4.7bn will be shared between 115 councils, while a further £575m will be available through a challenge fund for maintaining infrastructure such as junctions, bridges and street lighting.

Birmingham City Council is not included for these funds as:

“highways maintenance for this authority is provided through a Highways Maintenance Private Finance Initiative “

An interactive map on the DfT website gives more details of funds in each region.

VIDEO: What do cyclists do at traffic junctions for their safety?

Chris Lowe, a cyclist from the campaign group Push Bikes, explained to Brum Transport the problems cyclists face at traffic junctions while trying to cross the streets.

In the video here, Chris is at a traffic junction Great Charles Street Queensway. He crosses this junction everyday on his way to work.

He says,

“We either have to learn to cycle in traffic or get off the bike and push it across the street – and neither of them is the best solution. We want a solution that makes a cyclist feel safe.”

Chris feels the £24m grants that were recently announced for Birmingham as a part of the cycle city ambition bid need to focus on buidling cycling infrastructure around traffic junctions.

Earlier on Brum Transport: AUDIO – Mum stops traffic in Kings Heath to make streets safer for cyclists.

Soon to follow: Graham Lennard from the Birmingham City Council on what are the next steps with the £24m cycling funds. 

Fines for careless driving – police wary of enforcement

PHOTO: Elvert Barnes (Creative Commons)

Drivers flouting lane discipline can now be fined £100 on the spot and three points on their driver’s licences for offences like middle lane hogging, tailgating and other careless offences.

However, the Police Federation has expressed concerns regarding the enforcement of these new measures.

Steve White, vice-chair, Police Federation of England and Wales, said:

“This is a very positive move by the Department of Transport. But in practice it will wholly rely on having adequately resourced police service to enforce.”

In an interview to The Telegraph, he said, the number of police officers per 100,000 of the population is at its lowest since the 1970s.

Increase in Penalties

Endorsable fixed penalty offences (for which drivers get points on licences):

From £200 to £300 – driving without a third party insurance rises.

From  £120 to £200 – failure to identify driver

From £60 to £100

    • speaking on the phone
    • speeding
    • reversing on a motorway
    • not stopping at a red light

The changes to the system of fines, announced by the Department for Transport,  are a part of the changes that will give the police the powers to issue on the spot fixed penalties for careless driving. 

£24m boost to cycling in Brum

The Department for Transport (DfT) today announced £24m for Birmingham under the ‘cycle city ambition grant’ scheme.

Out of this about £7m will be invested by Birmingham City Council (BCC) and about £17m by the DfT.

This will add 71 miles of new cycle routes in the city.

A total of £94m has been sanctioned nationwide for cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle, Bristol and Norwich.

The Plan

Councillor James McKay, cabinet member, Green, Safe and Smart Cities, Birmingham City Council, has said in a press statement issued today,

“Birmingham is one of the worst performing cities outside London. Only 1% of our journeys are made on bikes. With these funds we will try to push up this to at least 5% in the next 10 years.”

“We will focus on the greater city centre and a surrounding commuter catchment area of 20 minutes cycling time from the city ring road.”

Birmingham cyclists’ response

Cyclists in Birmingham wary of their safety?

Cyclists in the city have a mixed response to these funds and some ask if the funds will be utilised in the best possible way?

While some who have been cycling for long don’t seem to think twice about setting out on the streets with their bikes, new bikers feel these funds need to be spent to make the city streets safer for cyclists.

Sean Durrant, who has set up a new cycle repairs workshop in Moseley this month, says,

“I don’t think Birmingham is any better or worse than other cities in the country when it comes to cycling on streets. I think if we can at least introduce some speed limits for those who cycle on pavements, it should do the trick.”

Susan McClure, who is thinking of taking up cycling after a gap of about 10 years says Birmingham is not very safe for cyclists yet and adds,

“Due to a medical condition I had to give up cycling for more than 10 years. Now that I have improved quite a lot, I really want to go back to cycling, but I’m not sure I can do very well with a traffic that is mixed with cars and buses.”

Esther Boyd, a cycling enthusiast says it may not be enough to just create cycling tracks. Other supporting infrastructure is also needed to make cycling safer. She explains,

“I have been cycling on the streets since I was a little girl. But I do know a lot of people who’re new cyclists and are wary of going out on the streets with a mixed traffic. I hope with these funds, problems like these will be addressed.”

Soon to follow: More on what the Council plans to do with these funds and what cyclists think the city needs