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All across the Great Western territory => The Wider Picture - related rail and other transport issues => Topic started by: Red Squirrel on October 05, 2021, 05:22:38 pm



Title: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 05, 2021, 05:22:38 pm
Quote

Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood

Council plans to divert car traffic from city via a ring road while providing more buses and cycle lines

Birmingham has announced what it calls a “transformative” transport plan that will see the car-centric city becoming a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood.

City officials hope that closing roads to through motor traffic, introducing a fleet of zero-emission cross-city buses and building additional protected cycleways will create a more liveable city.

With HS2 infrastructure rising from the ground and Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games next year, the Labour-controlled council believes removing through car journeys will be essential for the city to prosper.

“We’re one of the original motor cities,” said Birmingham city council’s transport lead, Waseem Zaffar. But like other UK cities, Birmingham suffers from an excess of single occupancy car journeys, he added.

...continues (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/04/birmingham-to-become-a-super-sized-low-traffic-neighbourhood)
Source: Guardian


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 05, 2021, 06:26:05 pm
Carlton Reid's twitter thread has quite a bit about this too.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 05, 2021, 06:37:22 pm
... as has Joe Dunckley's (https://twitter.com/steinsky/status/1445014971620990976?s=20)

The question is: why does Birmingham make a big public announcement about adopting the Ghent model (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/20/how-a-belgian-port-city-inspired-birminghams-car-free-ambitions), while Bristol seems to want to obfuscate its traffic plan? (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=25203.msg308407#msg308407) It's almost like someone high up in Bristol City Council is scared of upsetting motorists...


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: broadgage on October 05, 2021, 07:18:53 pm
Bristol in my view suffers from an excess of political correctness, with the result that any measures to control traffic or pollution have to be assessed from the point of view of each special interest group.
"What about the poor" ?
"What about women's issues" ?
And others too tedious to list.

Birmingham by contrast seems to take a broader view that reduced traffic is a good thing and is generally beneficial to most of the inhabitants, despite the fact that it might be a backward step for some special groups.
You cant please everyone, but hopefully this will please the majority.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: IndustryInsider on October 05, 2021, 07:51:12 pm
And others too tedious to list.

That doesn’t usually stop you.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: johnneyw on October 05, 2021, 09:21:11 pm
... as has Joe Dunckley's (https://twitter.com/steinsky/status/1445014971620990976?s=20)

The question is: why does Birmingham make a big public announcement about adopting the Ghent model (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/20/how-a-belgian-port-city-inspired-birminghams-car-free-ambitions), while Bristol seems to want to obfuscate its traffic plan? (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=25203.msg308407#msg308407) It's almost like someone high up in Bristol City Council is scared of upsetting motorists...

RS, have a look at some of the "outraged of Clifton" comments on the "Nextdoor" Bristol social network regarding the pedestrianisation of Princess Victoria Street and the "death of Clifton Village" doom mongering. Some comments on there would try to lead you to believe that the four horsemen of the apocalypse were currently stabled nearby.  It's in stark contrast to the reports I've read on Cotham Brow and the boost pedestrianisation has given there.  It's a funny old place, Bristol.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 05, 2021, 09:35:48 pm
Cotham Hill, not Cotham Brow. Though Cotham Brow is definitely a hill, as is Cotham Road, but Cotham Hill is flat (apart from one end). It is a funny old place, Bristol, and must have been when they did the street names too!

Anyway, Cotham Hill is a fairly tightly knit community, as in the residents and traders cooperate pretty well. To the extent of holding a joint street party (more like a small festival) every year, which benefits the traders financially and gives the residents some fun. That might also be the case in Princess Victoria St, I don't know, but it helps explain the success of the Cotham Hill scheme.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: johnneyw on October 05, 2021, 09:41:32 pm
Cotham Hill, not Cotham Brow. Though Cotham Brow is definitely a hill, as is Cotham Road, but Cotham Hill is flat (apart from one end). It is a funny old place, Bristol, and must have been when they did the street names too!

Anyway, Cotham Hill is a fairly tightly knit community, as in the residents and traders cooperate pretty well. To the extent of holding a joint street party (more like a small festival) every year, which benefits the traders financially and gives the residents some fun. That might also be the case in Princess Victoria St, I don't know, but it helps explain the success of the Cotham Hill scheme.

D'oh and I used to live round the corner from Cotham Hill....many years ago mind!


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: CyclingSid on October 06, 2021, 07:16:31 am
Quote
is scared of upsetting motorists...

Which covers a lot of local authorities, including those in Berkshire. I don't expect much in Reading before May, when they are all up for election for the first time since the creation of the unitary authority. Together with ward boundary changes might be a change from Labour control. Not much money in the kitty to sweeten the voters either. Local rumour that Tony Paige might not be standing this time.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 06, 2021, 09:47:31 am

RS, have a look at some of the "outraged of Clifton" comments on the "Nextdoor" Bristol social network regarding the pedestrianisation of Princess Victoria Street and the "death of Clifton Village" doom mongering. Some comments on there would try to lead you to believe that the four horsemen of the apocalypse were currently stabled nearby...

I can imagine... wasn't there a mock funeral at some point?


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Reading General on October 06, 2021, 10:38:29 am
Quote
is scared of upsetting motorists...

Which covers a lot of local authorities, including those in Berkshire. I don't expect much in Reading before May, when they are all up for election for the first time since the creation of the unitary authority. Together with ward boundary changes might be a change from Labour control. Not much money in the kitty to sweeten the voters either. Local rumour that Tony Paige might not be standing this time.

I cannot see a conservative council in Reading providing any new measures that might be perceived as anti-car. In fact I cannot see anything changing if the council changes sides save for the addition of the box ticking electric car charging points. I find the refusal to believe that cars are a poor way of moving around a town or city in the U.K. frustrating. Space for people rather than cars is beneficial for all, perhaps it’s that equality that people are upset by and frightened of. Our towns and cities have been held to ransom by cars for years with the remove cars and business will suffer rhetoric, when this has been proved wrong everywhere. Think about the serious amount of space we put aside for them in Bristol for example, more than twice the space available for people.

The capital appears to be the only place that people seem happy to be equalled with everyone else for movement, most car owners wouldn’t dream of taking a car there nor complaining about how far they might have to walk. It is what I believe has led to our overly London centric railway system in the south, where service to london is more important than a service to a local town, another rail junction or even the next station down the line (Bedwyn to Pewsey). Anyway I’m ranting off the topic.

I’m guessing that the current government a hoping that the U.K. will just swap to electric cars/lorries/buses and we will not have to change anything about how we move around at all, or at least that’s the vote winner hoped for in our nation of competition among neighbours. That’s an awful lot of batteries, charging, and the mining and waste products associated with batteries not to mention the simple logistics of how on Earth cars will be charged when they are littered over every piece of pavement and grass verge around somewhere like Calcot estate for example. The car is freedom and status thinking really has to change and that needs to come from above, but above need to provide the alternatives first, the climate crisis really is going to be a build it and they will come type venture. Individuals can’t be blamed, for many it’s just the world they have been brought into, the reliance on the internal combustion engine has been our short long term solution for decades. Electric cars are part of the solution for people with disabilities in certain circumstances and rural areas don’t have much chance of changing how mobility is around those areas but in towns and cities the options need to be there for us to choose the right way to move around and reduce our future over reliance on batteries. Save the batteries for the most necessary application (ranting off topic again). We need streets for people in urban centres and singe corridors for public transport. Bristol, Reading, Oxford, Bath even bits of Swindon (I’m thinking the old town as the centre is pretty car free although still dominated by infrastructure for it) could be transformed into real liveable places with the removal of cars and these tarmac, people hostile collars around the centres.

Cheers


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 06, 2021, 10:53:11 am

RS, have a look at some of the "outraged of Clifton" comments on the "Nextdoor" Bristol social network regarding the pedestrianisation of Princess Victoria Street and the "death of Clifton Village" doom mongering. Some comments on there would try to lead you to believe that the four horsemen of the apocalypse were currently stabled nearby...

I can imagine... wasn't there a mock funeral at some point?
It was a group of Cliftonians (Cliftonites? Cliftoners?) who drove a tank through the streets to protest against the RPZ back in Mayor Trousers' day.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: ChrisB on October 06, 2021, 10:55:25 am
Quote
is scared of upsetting motorists...

Which covers a lot of local authorities, including those in Berkshire. I don't expect much in Reading before May, when they are all up for election for the first time since the creation of the unitary authority. Together with ward boundary changes might be a change from Labour control. Not much money in the kitty to sweeten the voters either. Local rumour that Tony Paige might not be standing this time.

I cannot see a conservative council in Reading providing any new measures that might be perceived as anti-car. In fact I cannot see anything changing if the council changes sides save for the addition of the box ticking electric car charging points. I find the refusal to believe that cars are a poor way of moving around a town or city in the U.K. frustrating. Space for people rather than cars is beneficial for all, perhaps it’s that equality that people are upset by and frightened of. Our towns and cities have been held to ransom by cars for years with the remove cars and business will suffer rhetoric, when this has been proved wrong everywhere. Think about the serious amount of space we put aside for them in Bristol for example, more than twice the space available for people.

The capital appears to be the only place that people seem happy to be equalled with everyone else for movement, most car owners wouldn’t dream of taking a car there nor complaining about how far they might have to walk. It is what I believe has led to our overly London centric railway system in the south, where service to london is more important than a service to a local town, another rail junction or even the next station down the line (Bedwyn to Pewsey). Anyway I’m ranting off the topic.

I’m guessing that the current government a hoping that the U.K. will just swap to electric cars/lorries/buses and we will not have to change anything about how we move around at all, or at least that’s the vote winner hoped for in our nation of competition among neighbours. That’s an awful lot of batteries, charging, and the mining and waste products associated with batteries not to mention the simple logistics of how on Earth cars will be charged when they are littered over every piece of pavement and grass verge around somewhere like Calcot estate for example. The car is freedom and status thinking really has to change and that needs to come from above, but above need to provide the alternatives first, the climate crisis really is going to be a build it and they will come type venture. Individuals can’t be blamed, for many it’s just the world they have been brought into, the reliance on the internal combustion engine has been our short long term solution for decades. Electric cars are part of the solution for people with disabilities in certain circumstances and rural areas don’t have much chance of changing how mobility is around those areas but in towns and cities the options need to be there for us to choose the right way to move around and reduce our future over reliance on batteries. Save the batteries for the most necessary application (ranting off topic again). We need streets for people in urban centres and singe corridors for public transport. Bristol, Reading, Oxford, Bath even bits of Swindon (I’m thinking the old town as the centre is pretty car free although still dominated by infrastructure for it) could be transformed into real liveable places with the removal of cars and these tarmac, people hostile collars around the centres.

Cheers


Drivers may be more inclined to reconsider once they realise that the Government of the day will need to begin replacing the duty & VAT income from fuel sales as sales reduce/disappear.

I can’t really see any alternative to road pricing which will give some drivers a large monthly bill they din’t get at the moment. Yes, they currently buy fuel, but topping up generally on payday cushions the blow. I can’t see PAYG being an option fr road pricing…


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 06, 2021, 11:41:56 am
...Anyway I’m ranting off the topic....

I don't think you're at all off topic, Reading General. This is really all about managing the transition from dependence on cars. The shocking thing is that it is taking so long for the penny to drop! Town planners and highways engineers have known for at least 60 years that towns and cities cannot be adapted to the motor car, but they have persisted in the belief that it is better to sell a lie to voters than to give them the stark truth.

In 1963, Colin Buchanan (author of Traffic in Towns, the bible of road builders) stated that if you took the whole UK roads budget, doubled it, and spent the lot on one city - Leeds - you could adapt it to accommodate 40% of the demand for car travel. To do this it would have been necessary to demolish the whole city centre and rebuild it above a knot of road junctions. It would not be possible to accommodate more than 40% of demand, because it was not physically possible to fit in any more road junctions. The alternative would be to expand Leeds into an urban sprawl covering much of what is now West Yorkshire.

Buchanan went on to say that the remaining journeys - the majority of them! - would have to be made by public transport, but then dismissed this as an area of interest stating that it would never be profitable. O brave new world that had such people in't.

In Bath, incidentally, Buchanan's plans would have destroyed about a quarter of the central area to accommodate 20% of projected demand. Here's what it would have looked like. The knot of roads on the left is centred on Green Park Station, and the black blobs are car parks:

(https://fosbr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/buchana_bath.jpg)


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Reading General on October 06, 2021, 12:26:02 pm
Wasn’t a small part of demolition done for this plan in Bath?

Scandalous that plans like this did get built in some places. I find it incredible that for such a small island with many villages, towns and cities based on medieval streets that we chose the American model. I’m aware other European countries did this too but many places have realised that it was a mistake long ago and are well ahead (including cities in America) while we still press on with the dream. Don’t get me wrong I was as guilty as everyone else when I passed the test back in the early 90’s, when Ford’s were 100 quid with one years tax and MOT, but the realisation happened to me before that decade was up, and at that point I still didn’t take the car to the town centre as it was a burden finding somewhere to put it. I can thank my parents for instilling that in me. Now I have the attitude of simply make room for public transport regardless of space taken away from cars, be that parking or lanes. Make it hard work to move about in a car, however the argument that is becoming popular for closing streets to traffic is the emergency services access one. Which is odd as traffic by its very nature can hold up emergency services as well as continuing road repairs and motor vehicles colliding with each other. Then there is the argument that you couldn’t possibly have trams or the like on anything but reserved track, but you have to start somewhere and the idea of the transport like a tram is to largely replace that very traffic. No politician wants to face the truth with any of this as it’s bad for business. It’s a stand off where nothing changes. Keep dithering and hoping that technology will save the situation. This must be the first time in history where we are simply waiting for technology to get better to apply it, assuming it does that is.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 06, 2021, 01:13:42 pm
Wasn’t a small part of demolition done for this plan in Bath? 

The area around The Podium - where Waitrose is - formed part of Buchanan's scheme, as did the road system south of the Avon by the station. Other areas such as New King St, Chapel Row and many more were blighted for years.

The tide looks to have turned though. At Bath Quays North (https://www.bathquaysnorth.com/resources/images/PDFs/BQN_PublicConsultationBoards.pdf), for example, the original street plan is being restored and the brutalist Avon St multi-story car park is being removed. Other schemes such as the Security Zone (https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-city-centre-security-consultation) and, of course, the Clean Air Zone (https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-clean-air-zone) are all helping to tilt the balance. Wandering round Bath in the summer, I was struck by the number of people out on the streets - eating, drinking, chatting, wandering round, browsing shops, and spending money.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Reading General on October 06, 2021, 01:27:55 pm
Wasn’t a small part of demolition done for this plan in Bath? 

The area around The Podium - where Waitrose is - formed part of Buchanan's scheme, as did the road system south of the Avon by the station. Other areas such as New King St, Chapel Row and many more were blighted for years.

The tide looks to have turned though. At Bath Quays North (https://www.bathquaysnorth.com/resources/images/PDFs/BQN_PublicConsultationBoards.pdf), for example, the original street plan is being restored and the brutalist Avon St multi-story car park is being removed. Other schemes such as the Security Zone (https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-city-centre-security-consultation) and, of course, the Clean Air Zone (https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-clean-air-zone) are all helping to tilt the balance. Wandering round Bath in the summer, I was struck by the number of people out on the streets - eating, drinking, chatting, wandering round, browsing shops, and spending money.

That’s great, and we could have this everywhere. If you get stuff beyond politics and built everyone always agrees it’s a good thing (metrobus aside. Poorly planned token transport). Regardless of how much people love the convenience of a car, they also like space for people. Most I imagine walk further than they realise when the environment is right and it’s not alongside a dual carriageway or arterial road. Our town centres aren’t dying off, we’re killing them off through our inability to adapt. They will all thrive if we create access in the right method and that isn’t a multi storey.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 06, 2021, 04:02:18 pm
Going back to a comparison between the LTNs announced so far, mostly in London, the Birmingham scheme, and Bristol, what immediately strikes me is those named as LTNs have been mostly residential areas – neighbourhoods. Whereas what we have so far in Bristol is the city centre, commercial district. There are various single street closures, such as Cotham Hill, but I'm not sure they amount to neighbourhood schemes – as yet. Though we do have eg the area between Cheltenham Road and Cotham Hill, where a few point closures (eg bottom of Nugent Hill and top of Nine Tree Hill) have taken the through traffic out of what used to be rat runs. I wonder if a few schemes like this, addressed as strategic rearrangements rather than a contentious name, in the outer areas the mayor worries about eg Hartcliffe, might not be a way to gain support for further rearrangements in city as a whole?


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 06, 2021, 04:32:37 pm
In Bristol, as with most other cities, a visible strategy is exactly what's missing. The point closures you mention have taken place over a period of decades without any obvious signs of being anything other than a quick fix to a local problem. For whatever reason, leaders here seem to prefer a 'frog boiling' approach. They justify changes for other reasons - air pollution, Covid, climate change -  rather than admit that the actual problem is that cars never made sense in towns and never can.

I think Birmingham has got this right. Filip Watteeuw, deputy mayor of Ghent, whose scheme influenced Birmingham, said:

“In Ghent, we implemented the plan as a whole overnight, it was technically and politically the easiest way.”



Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 06, 2021, 09:29:59 pm
Paris is a good lead. We're used to being pointed at Amsterdam or Copenhagen and then being told "But those countries have a different tradition, they're pan flat, and most importantly they started fifty years ago." Meanwhile Paris has achieved something similar, without a utility (as opposed to sport and leisure) cycling tradition, in ten years tops, because their mayor realised the problem of traffic had to be tackled head on.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 07, 2021, 11:28:54 am
To be fair, with a few notable exceptions (Montmartre springs to mind) Paris is mostly flat too.

Actually I think this issue of flatness is a red herring put out by people who don't ride bikes, though. Generally you can find a flattish route to most places, and when you really have to climb a hill modern bikes have low enough gears to make this less difficult than it was in the days of the 3-speed Sturmey Archer. Failing that, there's no shame in getting off and pushing every now and then... or getting an e-bike.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: froome on October 07, 2021, 12:08:05 pm
To be fair, with a few notable exceptions (Montmartre springs to mind) Paris is mostly flat too.

Actually I think this issue of flatness is a red herring put out by people who don't ride bikes, though. Generally you can find a flattish route to most places, and when you really have to climb a hill modern bikes have low enough gears to make this less difficult than it was in the days of the 3-speed Sturmey Archer. Failing that, there's no shame in getting off and pushing every now and then... or getting an e-bike.

And if you have a folding bike, you can also catch a bus to get you to the top (as I sometimes here in Bath).

I agree that this is a red herring that is continuously trotted out. Bikes can get you to pretty much anywhere you want to go to, you just have to be more innovative in your thinking than if you are travelling only by motorised transport, and willing to take your time when necessary.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Reading General on October 07, 2021, 01:13:07 pm
This is indeed true but I imagine many people currently not cycling as a means of getting from one place to another are rather intimidated by the speed and volume of traffic even on the smaller roads. A long long time ago I would ride a bike in the summer holidays round the villages of the Berkshire downs on roads which many barely knew about. Almost 40 years later these very same roads are markedly busier and faster nowadays. Satellite navigation has made some quiet country roads an unpleasant experience to cycle. Anywhere I go on a bike now is planned by map to avoid the busiest roads but sometimes you simply have no choice. The basic provision of a wide pavement between somewhere like the Reading boundary and Burghfield would give many more the option of comfortably cycling or walking to other places. There is of course no perceived profit available in this.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 07, 2021, 06:01:52 pm
I agree that flatness is largely a red herring, but so is "they started fifty years ago". They are both nevertheless trotted out regularly as "reasons we can't do that here".


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Red Squirrel on October 07, 2021, 06:35:34 pm
Indeed. It's a bit like planting trees: the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time is now.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Reading General on October 07, 2021, 07:44:28 pm
Clearly some of the public think there is no alternative but for private cars to continue but what percentage of the population would you think that was? Are the media and government making it seem like it’s the overwhelming majority? A report on climate change this morning on the BBC covered multiple areas of change but on the transport segment simply mentioned the targets for car charging points (which I think was a quarter of a million before 2030?!?). Why does nobody want add in the addition of congestion caused by cars whether ICE or electric? Can we really swap every vehicle to batteries and keep putting money into charging points rather than improve the other means of mobility? A lot of questions but I’m interested on whether the penny is ever going to drop anytime soon for our country as a whole.


Title: Re: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood
Post by: Bmblbzzz on October 07, 2021, 09:22:17 pm
Indeed. It's a bit like planting trees: the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time is now.
But with the difference that whereas trees grow at a rate determined by their own biology, traffic grows or shrinks at a rate entirely dependent on human decisions. We've seen in Paris and might be about to see in Birmingham that this can take longer to happen than you think it will, and then happen faster than you thought it could.  ;)



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