Consultation on Local Transport Plan

WM hire bike locking mechanism

We have discussed the local transport plan with our colleagues in Birmingham Living Streets Group and are grateful to them for the detailed analysis which they have carried out.

Like the Green Paper that we commented on last summer, this new iteration is an excellent clear, attractive and well-argued document. Having followed and engaged with the development of a vision for future transport in Birmingham and the West Midlands for many years we fully support and welcome the direction of travel. Perhaps the biggest shift is from seeing the need to change as being primarily about economic growth being inhibited by overwhelming traffic congestion to a much more visionary and positive approach driven by social justice, climate change, air quality and a green economy. We agree that enabling active travel for 50% of trips, 15 minute neighbourhoods, efficient, affordable and convenient public transport is the key to a resilient, climate safe, attractive and prosperous Region.

Our concerns about the “draft” Plan relate to a lack of detail about implementation. Perhaps that will come next, once the Vision and Strategy is agreed, but we have already lost 6 months since the Green Paper. The Climate Emergency means that creating safe and fair travel options for everyone including those with less or no access to cars and persuading others to mode shift especially in urban areas is now essential.

All transport spending and much planning work across the West Midlands needs to be rethought in line with the aims, vision, strategy and plan that you have outlined. Lining up investment will not be easy but we are delighted to see today’s announcement of a £1.3 billion transport investment programme confirmed including £254m to enable active travel. What we now want to see are the Gantt charts, targets, and accountability frameworks that will ensure that these urgent changes are implemented.

Push Bikes will fully support the WMCA and City Council in this critical venture but it needs to be well managed and prioritized. Too often when we discuss actual changes on the ground the requirements of active travel have just been the marginalised add-ons to be thought of once the demands of through traffic, trams, deliveries, taxi ranks, car parking etc have been satisfied.

New developments like the A38 and A34 blue routes, Coundon and Binley cycleways and the exciting implementation of Places for People in parts of Birmingham show what can be done. To achieve the vision so nicely set out in the illustrations of the Local Transport Plan is going to require a lot of determination, grip and political and officer commitment. Clear measurable targets year by year are essential to demonstrate this commitment.