Activists have lashed out at the removal of a pop-up cycle lane in Birmingham
A campaign group in Birmingham has criticized a City Council decision to remove a cycle lane set up on the A47 Nechells Parkway at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, at a total cost, including the recent removal, of £430,000.
That total was announced following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from community group Better Streets for Birmingham, reports Birmingham Live.
In response, Birmingham City Council said the pop-up cycle lane had cost £256,000 to design and install and £167,103 to remove and resurrect the pavement.
In an open letter posted on its website, Better Streets for Birmingham said it was “extremely disappointed” at the news that the lane would be removed and that it was “difficult to understand why that decision was made”. . prior to the release of the Birmingham Transport Plan delivery schedule.
“Last week we recently attended a very enjoyable LCWIP [Local Cycling and Walking Investment Plans] Workshop to help shape our city’s future cycle path network. It was fantastic to see how the future network card develops.
“This week we learned with great disappointment that the A47 pop-up cycle path has been closed and will be demolished without consultation.
“In these tight times, where we are constantly being told we do not have the financial resources to afford the active travel infrastructure this city so desperately needs, we are phasing in the use of our limited funds to remove existing infrastructure Ask. Given that the infrastructure served a relatively disadvantaged area, it seems even more egregious that we should remove it during a livelihood crisis.
“Additionally, removing infrastructure funded from a previous tranche of the Active Travel Fund (ATF) appears remarkably short-sighted. We fear this will negatively impact Birmingham’s plans for future tranches, including ATF4. The council has established a record of the deployment and subsequent dismantling of ATF systems while other local authorities in the area have deployed and maintained quality infrastructure.
“We find it difficult to understand why this decision has been made now in advance of the release of the Birmingham Transport Plan delivery schedule. It’s also hard to see how this decision fulfills the “Route to Zero” goal.
“We know we cannot build all the active travel infrastructure we need at once. That’s why we have to slowly expand the network. This initially creates sections that are underused, which was one of the reasons for the demolition. As the sections expand and connect to other parts of the network, as seen during Journey to the Continent with Adam Tranter, their use will increase. Instead of removing, we should iterate the cycling infrastructure.
“We sincerely hope that this decision will be reversed,” the group added. “Otherwise, we hope the widespread disappointment will be remembered to ensure we don’t lose more valuable safe cycling infrastructure again.”
West Midlands Cycling and Walking Officer Adam Tranter said removing the trail “sends the wrong message” when active travel needs to be encouraged.
“As I have said before, I think Birmingham City Council’s decision to remove the A47 cycle lane was a step backwards in relation to our shared aim of making cycling and walking the natural first choice for short distances,” he said .
“It’s certainly sending the wrong message, and the cost of removing it clearly outweighs the cost of maintaining the lane.”
“I am very keen to move forward and support the City Council in getting safe infrastructure in this area of Birmingham as soon as possible,” added Tranter, who said he will soon be making a site visit with councilor Liz Clements, Birmingham’s cabinet member Transport.