Birmingham city centre shows what happens when traffic is shut out. Suddenly there is space and safety. Pedestrians, street markets tourists, entertainment, on what used to be moving traffic. New housing where there were roundabouts. Far from dying, as some predicted, the city centre has come to life. Can such an approach be spread more widely?
Birmingham was built around its rail lines, and there are many opportunities to re-open passenger stations and create a Birmingham Overground like London’s Underground.
Really light rail vehicles, with on-board power, could be given the freedom of our streets.
Buses can compete if given dedicated bus lanes and priority at junctions.
Bus Rapid Transit is a cheaper alternative to trams, but could work in the same way if introduced along major routes.
Streets could be shared again, wherever vehicles are restricted to 20mph – we would like this to be on all residential roads. People would feel safe to walk and cycle short journeys, improving everyone’s health.
As in Paris or London, we could be picking up bikes and dropping them at many destinations.
Car clubs would mean people don’t have to own and park their own vehicles, but use them only when there is no alternative.
Many European cities have a much better balance of transport than Birmingham and we can learn from them how to tame the car. The city would be more attractive, more successful, and we could even reach our targets for carbon emissions.
An integrated transport system would mean it would be easy to go from one form of transport to another. For example, cycling to the bus or train stop would be easier and tickets would work for the whole journey – on buses as well as trains.