£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