You may have noticed that BCR has been more Birmingham Canal Revolution than Birmingham Cycling Revolution. Push Bikes has recently learned that the slow progress of the on-road schemes is not, as we thought, caused by unwillingness on the part of councillors to accept change. Indeed significant change is already underway. As of today, all Birmingham Cycling Revolution work has been cancelled, and in its place there will be an extensive road-building programme to be known as the Birmingham Car Revolution.
Many city centre buildings will be demolished to make way for a new four lane gyratory system that will allow every Birmingham citizen to drive into the city centre, which will be mostly given over to subsidised car parking. Additional measures will be taken for those who cannot drive. NCN5 through the city centre will be diverted on a sinuous route around the car parks so that there is more space for idling cabs. It will become part of a much expanded network which the city council hopes will become a National Cab Network.
The councillor leading the BCR project is Lisa Trickdriver, cabinet member for Unsustainability. We caught up with her at One Lancaster Circus in the newly refurbished basement car park. Referring to the buildings being demolished around the Middleway, Lisa explained that this was to make room for the on-ramps to the new gyratory system. She told us this would be laid with a special surface to ensure everyone's radials squeal. To promote the project and encourage Brummies to get behind the wheel as often as possible, BCR money has been used to buy all councillors a car that is incapable of speeds below 20mph, a lead pioneered by the newly appointed boy-racing tsar, Councillor Johnny Alpine. Lisa spent a couple of hours showing us around the sumptuous interior of her new car, a Porsche Cayenne SUV. Afterwards as she skilfully drove us around the current ring road, simultaneously pointing out the new construction work and handling phone calls from her colleagues, she explained that the bikes issued under the old BCR scheme would be recalled and recycled. The metal would be used to build new cars, and the plastic components would be turned into a pair of string-back gloves for every citizen, to help them on their way to the new, bright future.
Back at One Lancaster Circus we spoke to the man who will be leading the implementation of the Birmingham Car Revolution, Graham Leaded. Graham has swapped his childish pushbike for a manly Mercedes-Benz SLR McClaren, shaving several miles per hour off his speed into work and back. He remains committed to safety, and has upgraded his cycle helmet to a sleek white car helmet. He's looking forward to the challenge of making it possible for cabs to use NCN5. "There are simply not enough cabs in this city", he told us. "Their exotic exhaust aroma adds greatly to the city environment, and their unique ability to turn every journey into two journeys maximises their contribution."
We had hoped to speak to Victoria Tailfin, who chairs the Transport Scrutiny Committee. Unfortunately we got held up in traffic for an hour or so as we headed over to the Council House, and arrived just as she was leaving for her next appointment, a burnout on Hurst Street (right). She just had time to say she would be trying out the Carlos Fandango super wide wheels she has recently fitted to her classic Ford Mustang, along with a new carburettor. Victoria promises that soon there will be burnout parks in every neighbourhood in place of children's playgrounds.
Whilst it's not yet clear if the Birmingham Superprix will be making a return, the Birmingham Car Revolution promises a bright future indeed, one in which people will soon be flocking here from all around the world to experience the noise, the smells, and the thrill of narrowly missing being run over by a car as they exit New Street Station.