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Birmingham Publish Emergency Transport Plan

Birmingham Publish Emergency Transport Plan

Pending the publication of their Transport Plan later in 2020, Birmingham City Council (BCC) have released an Emergency Transport Plan as an interim document in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The draft Transport Plan was consulted on earlier in 2020 and the Emergency Plan contains the key elements of that draft to support walking, cycling and public transport, to be implemented now when such measures are most needed.

BCC’s summary of the plan states that “Proposals are organised around the same four “big moves”:

  1. Reallocating road space – to support the creation of safe space for walking, cycling and social distancing while maintaining public transport provision.
  2. Transforming the city centre – through the creation of walking and cycling routes alongside public transport services and limited access for private cars.
  3. Prioritising active travel in local neighbourhoods – so that walking and cycling is the way most people get around their local area most of the time and these become places where people are put first, creating stronger communities.
  4. Managing demand through parking measures – where land and space currently occupied by car parking is repurposed for walking, cycling and social distancing.

BCC plan to achieve the above in a number of different ways. Some methods include evaluating existing dual carriageways for suitable new priority lanes, reducing on-street car parking on high streets to widen footways, and fast-tracking proposals included in the Birmingham Walking and Cycling Strategy and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which was adopted in January 2020. Other measures include a city-wide 20mph default speed limit and car-free school streets.

C-19 specific measures include enlarging bus stop waiting areas, accelerate and enhance the scope of the City Centre Public Realm and pedestrianisation project, prioritising signals towards pedestrian movements, and providing more facilities for e-scooter and e-bike park and hire.

Future policy work includes a re-examination of Controlled Parking Zones and the creation of a Undertake a review of a new Parking Supplementary Planning Document. Whilst not explicitly stated, it seems as though BCC also intend bring in stronger enforcement against pavement parking.

BCC are amongst a number of authorities promoting sustainable transport. Sustrans Cymru have been awarded £1.1million to increase active travel in 400 schools across Wales in addition to a £15million investment from the Welsh Government for “Covid-proof” travel. Leicester City, meanwhile, is the first local authority to install pop cycle lanes and Bristol has also unveiled a package of emergency interventions for sustainable transport.

It remains to be seen how long-term some of these measures may become. It is hoped that the circumstances could lead to a period of what is effectively on-street testing of sustainable active travel options, and demonstrate which measures are practicable in a permanent form. Certainly, the unlock of funding in Wales for schools, whilst modest, is a step in the right direction.

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