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Author Topic: Birmingham to become a super-sized low-traffic neighbourhood  (Read 2289 times)
Red Squirrel
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« Reply #15 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, 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 and, of course, the 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.
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« Reply #16 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, 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 and, of course, the 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.
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« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2021, 04:02:18 pm »

Going back to a comparison between the LTNs (Low Traffic Neighbourhood) 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?
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« Reply #18 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.”

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« Reply #19 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.
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« Reply #20 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.
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« Reply #21 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.
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« Reply #22 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.
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« Reply #23 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".
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« Reply #24 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.
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« Reply #25 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» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) 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.
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« Reply #26 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.  Wink
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