On 12th October Birmingham City Council’s cabinetwill vote on closing roads to through traffic and introducing a fleet ofzero-emission buses and building additional cycleways.
The Birmingham Transport Plan (BTP), which sets out thevision for transport investment for up to 2031, is centred around several keyprinciples, including the change in the allocation of road space away fromsingle-occupancy private cars, and the transformation of the city centre bycreating a network of pedestrian streets and public spaces.
The report also states that where development potentialexists, for example where land is currently being used for car parking, it willbe put to "more productive use". According to the Birmingham CityCouncil, the plan will also support the creation of jobs, inward investment andbe good news for the environment.
According to the Council’s cabinet, the way that people andgoods move through Birmingham city centre needs to change fundamentally.
“Without change in our approach, these opportunities andbenefits will be constrained by poor air quality in our city, a lack oftransport capacity and further adverse social and environmental impacts.”
"We know that our over-dependence on private motor carsis bad for the health of ourselves and our families, bad for our communitiesand bad for business, and bad for the future in terms of transport'scontribution to carbon emissions, which accelerate the climate emergency.”
The investment into the city’s transport system and theimplementation of schemes to prioritise people over cars will help develop acleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable environment for the people ofBirmingham. To convert people to cleaner and healthier forms of transport,Birmingham, including the central area, will be split into seven zones. Ratherthan driving directly between zones, motorists will be diverted via the A4540ring road.
“We’re one of the original motor cities,” said Birminghamcity council’s member for transport and environment, Waseem Zaffar.
However, like many UK cities, Birmingham suffers from anexcess of single-occupancy car journeys, with 25% of the city’s car journeysbeing one mile or less.
Earlier in the year, Birmingham City Council launched itsClean Air Zone (CAZ) which requires drivers of older cars, vans and trucks topay a daily fee to enter the city’s centre. The CAZ applies to all vehiclesthat fail to meet the minimum emissions standards of Euro 6 for diesel, Euro 4for petrol and restrictions are on all roads within Birmingham’s A4540Middleway Ring Road, except the ring road itself. The CAZ is operational 24hours a day, seven days a week, including bank holidays.
Aside from the positive impact, these changes will have onthe environment and the city’s sustainability, there are also hopes that theinvestment will allow Birmingham to continue to grow and prosper.