Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Birmingham plans to become a supersized low-traffic neighborhood

Birmingham was redesigned in the 1960s to make travel by car as easy as possible. But another city in Britain has since fallen in love with cars. The council’s latest plan (Birmingham Transport Plan 2031) makes this clear: the days of private cars are numbered.

In order to reduce carbon emissions and the negative impact of cars on people, the council has decided to reallocate road space for public transport, expand the subway, improve bus services and expand the cycle-lane network. is planned.

To give priority to walking and cycling and the use of public transport, it will form a ring road around the city center within which private vehicles cannot travel. The council will also impose a 20mph limit on all local roads and car-free areas around schools.

Ultimately, it will reduce the number of parking spaces and increase fees for those that remain (including fining companies for providing parking for employees). But can this plan really work?

Birmingham does not have a good track record in terms of ring roads.
Adam Jones | Unsplash, FAL

reduce carbon emissions

For a city to reduce its carbon emissions, the proposed Ring Road is important, but, when it comes to Ring Roads, what works in one city may not necessarily work in another. However, research has shown that ring roads can reduce traffic due to changes in city layout, along with promoting eco-friendly transportation options, where people live, work and have easy access to each other. play inside. Without these add-ons, traffic is bound to increase.

Critical to Birmingham’s success, the council has a longstanding commitment to supporting public transport and land-use changes. It’s because the reason we travel is to travel to and from places, so where those places are located, and the options we have to reach them, matters. The risk is that such commitments are costly and easily succumb to funding cuts and changes in the political wind.

Birmingham’s back ring road, built between 1960 and 1971 and later called the Concrete Collar, was a social and economic disaster. It destroyed heritage buildings and isolated the city center from surrounding communities, made walking and cycling unsafe, and limited development of the city centre.

In the end, it was removed – mostly. The tunnel sections remain, as are some raised sections, now at ground level. The process took decades and cost millions of pounds. It was a high price to pay for the bad design.

An Aerial View Of Birmingham City Center And The Gravel Hill Interchange At The M6, Aka Spaghetti Junction.
An aerial view of Birmingham City Center and the Gravel Hill interchange at the M6, AKA Spaghetti Junction.

improve life

Birmingham wants its city center to become a super-sized low-traffic neighborhood. This means there is no access for private vehicles and no rat walks.

Evidence from existing low-traffic neighborhood plans suggests that traffic will not necessarily be displaced, causing problems with surrounding roads. The picture as to why is not entirely clear, but it could be that displaced traffic is finding different routes through the city in some cases.

Public opinion on the efficacy of low-traffic neighborhoods is deeply divided. It should come as no surprise that what constitutes low-traffic neighborhoods varies from existing streets blocked by large potted plants to purpose-built neighborhoods. Some designs will inevitably be more effective than others.

The problem here is that Birmingham is attempting to apply this concept not to a residential neighborhood community, but to a city centre.

Of course, it is possible to live on a neighborhood scale in cities. Local centers, which already exist and new ones that develop, form a network of so-called urban villages within which both daily and essential services must be provided. In Birmingham, however, such services – the bus network, in particular – currently decrease with distance from the city centre.

Other cities have opted for a 15-minute city model, which promotes meeting people’s needs within a quarter-hour of walking or cycling from where they live. The problem with this is that when time and speed of expansion are prioritized, it compromises equitable access because the amount of distance people can cover in any given amount of time is not the same.

Birmingham Transport Plan 2031 envisions Birmingham as a polycentric city by urbanites – a “city with multiple centres”. Such cities require transportation solutions that focus on local travel within the broader city context. Compared to the traditional monocentric city – which has only one center and through which traffic flows – polycentric cities should mean shorter journeys.

The success of the plan will depend on whether the city council takes a truly holistic approach to the city and supports fair access to services. This requires a shift away from the city center to local centers – something the city does not seem quite prepared to do.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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