Push Bikes has given its response to the draft Birmingham Design Guide Streets and Spaces City Manual.
We are very pleased with the emphasis on active travel and the five key design points laid out on page 16 - Safety, Directness, Coherence, Comfort, and Adaptability. These are very important.
On page 18, there is reference to avoiding "unnecessarily circuitous routes", which we presume to mainly refer to motor traffic. We understand why that might be suggested, but a key tool in discouraging driving is to give active travel and public transport a time advantage over private motor traffic through the principles utilised in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. We suggest that reference should be put in about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the guiding principles behind those, and that circuitous routes where necessary to discourage motor traffic and give active travel modes a time advantage, should be looked upon favourably. Birmingham City Council is already starting to implement Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, and the design guide wouldn't need much change in wording to push forward those principles.
The design guide includes a number of photos from other countries, so it seems reasonable to use one of our own. The header photo is of a low cost housing development in the Netherlands. It may be low cost, but the environmental design has not been overlooked. Children are cycling to school through green surroundings on the excellent cycle paths. There is a road, but it has been designed so as not to encourage and prioritise driving. It's important to remember that good urban design isn't just for the professional classes.