It’s been a good month for 20mph limits, with Brighton and Cambridge both taking the plunge. Now Birmingham is set to follow suit, with around one-third of the city set to adopt the bike-friendly speed limit.
Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet is expected to approve the new limit at a meeting next week. As well as the entire area within the ring road, parts of Aston, Nechells, Ladywood, Edgbaston, Harborne, Selly Oak, Bournville, Moseley and Kings Heath, Springfield, Sparkbrook, South Yardley, Bordesley Green, Washwood Heath and Hodge Hill wards will get the new lower limit.
The 20mph limit is being introduced as part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution scheme. It will officially be a pilot scheme rather than a permanent introduction, with the council’s cycling champion, James McKay, saying:
“Better safety for all road users is the inspiration behind our plans, and the other positive spin-offs are a bonus – but we accept that there are still significant numbers of people who remain to be convinced.”
Indeed, of the 3,500 people who replied to a public questionnaire, only 39% were in favour, and 58% against. However, 91% said they were in favour of 20mph limits near schools. 60% of cyclists, bus users and walkers supported the plans, versus only 40% of drivers. The City Council says that the results of the survey were not representative:
“Those who travelled by car as their main mode of travel were over-represented in terms of the consultation responses, and were more likely to be opposed to the proposal. Many of the reasons for not supporting the proposals could be said to be based on misconceptions in terms of where the limits would apply and that they would improve road safety.”
Main A and B roads will retain their existing limits, and as the council points out, “the vast majority of the city’s [car] traffic travels on the 10% of the road network that will stay at 30 or 40 mph”.
Predictably, UKIP has come out in opposition to the proposals, launching a petition against them. Its local spokesman, Keith Rowe, told the Birmingham Mail:
“The council should be trying to increase the flow of traffic and reduce bottlenecks and invest money in trying to get the economy moving. Birmingham is the spiritual home of the motor industry and should be car friendly.”
The local Green Party has called UKIP “ignorant”.