Birmingham’s Cycle City Ambition

Recently Birmingham City Council have confirmed that they will be submitting a bid for £17M of funds from the Department for Transport as part of the Cycle City Ambition grants announced by Norman Baker. In total the DFT have released £42M, which is to be spent as £30M on urban cycling improvements, and £12M on rural elements (National Parks).

The Government indicate that:

‘for the urban element there will be a maximum of 3 Cycle City Ambition Grants…However, as an indication of our approach, we might expect to support one First Wave 1 city and two cities bidding to be Second Wave cities.’
Cycle city ambition grants guidance [PDF]

This means that Birmingham will be competing against the other Wave 1 City Deal cities:

  • Leeds,
  • Sheffield,
  • Newcastle,
  • Bristol,
  • Liverpool,
  • Manchester, and
  • Nottingham.

If Birmingham is successful the £17M of central funds (alongside £5.9M of local funding) will be spent by 2016, and is part of the overall strategy of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution which is looking to make the city better focussed for cycling as part of a 20 year plan.  It also helps to deliver upon the council’s Vision for Movement, as well as showing that the council recognise that a modal shift towards cycling is needed.

A report before the council on 9 April 2013 ‘Changing Gear: Transforming Urban Movement through Cycling and Walking in Birmingham’ shows that Birmingham is considering the actions needed to make it a better environment for cycling.

The simple truth is that at the moment we do not have the infrastructure that helps to support a culture of cycling.  Below the current state of the cycle network can be seen:

The £22.9M of funds would be used to deliver:

  • Main Corridors – measures along eight of the main arterial routes into the city centre, which will generally be suitable for more experienced / confident commuter cyclists;
  • Parallel Routes – a network of generally quieter routes running parallel to the main corridors, but also linking to local schools, health centres, parks and other community facilities, and suitable for less experienced cyclists and family trips as well as commuters;
  • City Centre – a series of mostly minor measures, including some contraflow cycle facilities, to improve routes into and through the city core;
  • Green Routes – improvements and extensions to the existing network of ‘off-road’ routes such as Rea Valley, Cole Valley and Tame Valley particularly suitable for family and leisure cycling, and so supporting the tourism economy, but also available for commuter cyclists;
  • Canal Towpaths – extensive improvements to towpaths to provided a sealed surface more suitable for all-weather cycling, suitable for leisure and commuter cyclists;
  • Supporting Measures – items such as cycle hire, parking and hubs, wayfinding, a significant extension of 20mph areas, and bike loans to encourage and assist more people to cycle and stimulate local cycling manufacture; and
  • Smarter Choices – supporting package of revenue-funded promotional, mapping, marketing, educational and training measures to promote cycling to local residents and businesses.

This would mean that by 2016 the cycle network in Birmingham would look like:

Birmingham will find out by June 2013 whether it has been successful in the bid for funds. The real question is what will happen to the Birmingham Cycle Revolution with only £5.9M of local funding, as that will not stretch too far.