We have been occupied by plans of Transport for West Midlands to put in bus lanes along main roads. This could be helpful to speed up buses, but not if pedestrians and cyclists get a substantially worse deal, or local high streets are damaged. Moseley Road through Balsall Heath to Moseley village was the subject of a scheme that required felling of the line of trees and cutting the footways back to 2.2 metres, without space for bus queues, benches, cycle stands and planters which make it attractive for cafes and shops. This was to fit in an extra lane of traffic, squeezing in four lanes, including buses and heavy goods vehicles.
Local organisations and residents had not been involved at all and were keen to object. BFOE started a petition to the City Council calling for them to halt the road widening, but in support of using the road in a more efficient way. If parking restrictions in the peak period were enforced that would do much to keep buses moving. We found that people who did not live along the route agreed that widening roads will not get people out of cars. The Petition was given to Transport Scrutiny Committee with 834 signatures.
There are similar issues on Walsall Road and Dudley Road. If new bus lanes and cycle lanes take space from pedestrians and make additional capacity for general traffic, are they really helping? Should rail stations be re-opened, like the one at Balsall Heath, to get commuters off the road? Cycle routes through quiet back streets? Walking buses to schools? 20 mph speed limits?
We shall see what the Birmingham Transport Plan, expected in early 2020, has to say about reducing traffic across the city, in response to air quality and the Climate Emergency.