Some of you may have seen the article in the Birmingham Post a few weeks ago, which reported on Campaign for Better Transport’s findings that Birmingham was one of the worst cities for cycling and walking as an alternative to the car. Campaign for Better Transport’s “car dependency scorecard” ranked cities on their walking and cycling provision as well as their public transport use and car dependency, and placed Birmingham 25th out of the 26 cities in the UK for walking and cycling provision ahead of only Gateshead, with Cambridge found to be the most accessible by bike and on foot.
That Birmingham has come so low in the rankings is no surprise, given the well-documented issues around walking and cycling provision in the city; lack of proper cycle routes, lack of secure bike racks at many stations and interchanges, the prioritisation of the car at junctions and crossings, and the lack of safe and pleasant walking routes.
However, Birmingham came 15th out of 26 for driving and car use, showing that the city isn’t as dependent on the car as one might expect, especially as Birmingham came 9th for use of buses and trains despite the lack of an integrated public system. This shows that Brummies are willing to use forms of transport other than the car.
Campaign for Better Transport’s report also pointed out how walking and cycling are under-represented in terms of funding. If Birmingham’s walking and cycling provision was improved, as part of an integrated public transport system, such as having safe storage for bikes at all stations and transport hubs, we would further reduce the city’s car dependency. This is especially true when we consider Campaign for Better Transport’s findings that 20% of all car journeys are less than two miles and could comfortably be made by walking or cycling.
Hopefully, Birmingham City Council can show real leadership in greatly improving provision for pedestrians and cyclists, so the city can be more like Cambridge and less like Gateshead. If you’d like to get involved with transport campaigning with Birmingham Friends of the Earth, get in touch with us via: firstname.lastname@example.org