Birmingham City Council has published surveys on the parks and on parking, asking the public for their views on these services. These two surveys provide an opportunity to get our voices heard on a couple of issues.
Parks survey - closing 11th November 2018
At the start of the survey, you are asked to confirm that you use parks in Birmingham. If you cycle around Birmingham, it would be surprising if you did not pass through land owned by the parks service on a daily basis. After confirming that you do visit parks and open land in Birmingham, you will be asked which park or public space you visit - it is worth spending a little time here to list the ones that you pass through regularly. This search page can show you some of the parks in Birmingham, but it seems to miss off the smaller open spaces that I know are also managed by the Parks service. I recommend that you try referring to the open spaces as 'the open space by such-and-such road'.
In the survey, there is a long list of different park facilities for you to rate, but these are not really relevant for people who cycle through the parks, aside from perhaps the toilet facilities and the cleaning up of litter and glass. But there are boxes for you to put in extra comments. Issues that we will be talking about are:
- Social safety in parks and open spaces, especially following the recent reports of muggings. In the winter months the parks and open spaces are unlit and feel isolated, which discourages their use by people cycling. Where the park is the best available route for cycling, providing measures to make the park feel safer after dark is important.
- Removing barriers that block or needlessly inconvenience cycle users. If there are any barriers that frustrate you regularly, this is your opportunity to raise the issue.
- Maintaining paths and cutting back vegetation. Many of the green routes have been narrowed by a build up of leaves and plants growing over the paths, so that the paths have become difficult for users to pass each other. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the paths at their original width, making them more comfortable to use and also safer.
- Secure cycle parking. Some parks do have cycle parking installed, such as around the MAC in Cannon Hill Park, but others do not have much, if any cycle parking. Having Sheffield stands in the parks provides lock-up points for people who want to use their cycle to visit the park but don't want to push it around with them or try to prop it up against a tree or bench.
- Sweeping up broken glass. Although parks like Cannon Hill Park are not too bad for broken glass, many of the smaller open spaces do suffer from broken bottles. If there are any particular spots near you that do suffer from a lot of broken glass, make sure to mention it to encourage more regular cleaning.
Parking (Penalty Charge Notice) Survey - closing 24th October
This survey mainly concentrates on the experience of people who have received a parking penalty notice from Birmingham City Council, but hidden inside are is a question that is relevant to those of us who cycle around Birmingham. On the third page of the survey, question 6 asks: "If you know of any areas that require parking enforcement - please tell us where." You do not have to answer any of the other questions to reach that question - so you can skip the rest of the survey if you like and just tell them where they should be focusing on addressing illegal parking.
Tackling illegal parking is split between Birmingham City Council and the police:
The police can issue tickets for obstructing the highway, including parking on pavements. This applies in areas where there are no parking restrictions but the motor vehicles are parked in such a way that the pavement, cycle track or carriageway can not be safely used. Motor vehicles that are driven into mandatory cycle lanes or cycle tracks are dealt with by the police.
Birmingham City Council can issue tickets where someone has parked in a restricted parking area, such as on double yellow lines. Where parking is restricted, the council can issue fines. This includes cars that are parked on the pavement or in a cycle lane where there are double yellow lines, which is one reason why mandatory cycle lanes normally have double yellow lines in them as well. It is also illegal to park across dropped kerbs, and the council can issue fines for that as well.
Further information about parking policies in Birmingham can be found on the council website, and there is also a page with details of how to report highway and pavement obstructions that you can use at anytime.