Levenes Partner is calling for space for cycling
Thursday 20 Nov 2014

Tim Beasley, Partner at Levenes Solicitors, took part in a report on BBC Midlands Today on 17th November 2014 concerning cycling in Birmingham. He was miked up by the BBC who filmed him on his commute to the office. He was then interviewed on camera talking about cycling in Birmingham.

You can view the report here: http://youtu.be/r3gjYINcdqM.

Tim was also interviewed on BBC Radio WM about the problems of cycling in Birmingham. You can listen to the interview here: http://youtu.be/-yhsQFrjNQQ  

Tim said “I was delighted to be invited to talk about cycling in Birmingham. A recent BBC poll found that 50% of people feel that Birmingham is not a safe city for cycling. For the TV report, I was followed along Walsall Road and Birchfield Road so that I could be filmed. The first stage of the journey shows what can be very good about my journey – the fact that I often beat the traffic jams. I agreed with the BBC crew where I would stop about a mile down the road. Off we went with their car following behind. They soon got stuck in the traffic and I was waiting for a few minutes for them to catch up with me. My headcam would have captured all this but the BBC did not use that footage. It’s typical of my journey that I often pass hundreds of cars which are not going anywhere. My journey normally takes about the same by bike as it does by car. There are always certain places where it is faster by bike and other places where it is faster by car. I enjoy my ride in to work. I arrive feeling refreshed and more ready for what the day will bring than if I have travelled to work by car. That’s the good bit. There is also some bad. The film shows how intimidating it is to cycle if you are a not a confident cyclist. Most people just rule out cycling as an option because of the close proximity of the heavy traffic.

Birmingham City Council has recently been awarded money from the government for what they are now calling the Birmingham Cycle Revolution. I ought to welcome it, but I don’t think it will make much difference. I hope that I am proved wrong.

In September of this year I was on a charity ride from London to Brussels via Amsterdam. In the Netherlands I cycled by a school. There were hundreds of bikes parked outside the school and from the sizes of the bikes it was obvious that children as young as 5 or 6 were cycling to school. What a contrast to the streets around our schools in Birmingham which are choked with cars between 8.30 and 9.00 and again between 3.00 and 3.30. If you suggested to those parents that their children could cycle to school they would say you were mad because of all the traffic. What an absurd situation! We have worsening rates of obesity, crumbling roads and congestion. We have to be radical and think differently about how we get from A to B.

On my route in to Birmingham, there is more than enough space for the council to construct a proper Dutch style fully protected segregated cycle lane. I am talking about a proper cycle lane, not some paint on the road or a path shared with pedestrians. However, the council plans for Perry Barr to Birmingham appear to be just about finding “parallel” so-called “quiet” routes. I have tried that on a Centro led ride in the summer of 2013. My ride was 50% further and took twice as long. I would like to take a more direct route. There is space on the A34 - we need to make it “Space for Cycling”.

On 10th November 2014, the Prime Minister announced funding of £15billion (yes, you read that right – BILLION) for 100 “blackspots” in the road network. Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council was given £17 million to improve cycling in Birmingham. That puts things in perspective. Comparing those figures gives a better idea of what the government really think about cycling.

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Tim Beasley

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