They’re having one of those ‘traffic-free’ cycling events in Birmingham today. They’re designed to get people on bikes and enjoying a car-free city for an afternoon. Which is cool. But it doesn’t fix the problem, it sort of absolves the people who should fix the problem, and it prevents them from actually having to address it properly.
The problem is that Birmingham is built for cars. It was a deliberate strategy, but it was not a sustainable one. There are some cycle lanes in the city, but most of them also happen to be bus lanes or places where cars can park – or they stop and start along busy roads and weave in and out of pedestrian areas.
In other words, they’re worse than useless, and encourage dangerous cycling. It’s generally safer to avoid Birmingham’s cycle lanes altogether, which means that motorists and pedestrians alike are always frustrated and angry with the few cyclists brave enough share the streets with them.
Despite appearances on this one day of the year, Birmingham City is openly antagonistic toward cyclists.
It’s not rocket surgery
There’s an obvious and proven way to fix this: proper cycle lanes. If our councillors are confused by this concept, I invite them to visit Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen – and pretty much every other major northern European city you might care to mention.
Yes, it’s an expensive thing to do, but not as expensive long term as NOT doing it. The same applies for trams and a comprehensive underground and overground rail system that includes places you might actually want to get to. These are things that Birmingham desperately needs.
Auckland too, come to think of it.
And while it’s nice to get out there for a day and pedal through the city streets like you’ve been left behind after the Rapture, a show of cycle-friendliness on one day is hypocrisy on the part of city councils.
We know you don’t have the money. We don’t care. Find it somewhere. You’re killing us.