Birmingham’s often muddy and bumpy towpaths are being resurfaced for cyclists in a £6m upgrade.
The scheme is the first part of Birmingham City Council’s £24m ‘Cycle Revolution’ project. Work will get underway this month and take 18 months.
Four canals within the city boundary have been selected for the upgrade:
- the Birmingham Main Line Canal, which heads towards Wolverhampton;
- the Worcester & Birmingham Canal towards Selly Oak and Kings Norton;
- the Grand Union Canal towards Solihull; and
- the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal towards Minworth.
The first work will take place on the Main Line, one of the straightest canals in Britain after its route was upgraded by Thomas Telford in the 19th century.
Cllr James McKay from Birmingham City Council said: “The canals are a great place to go for an enjoyable ride – and once this work is complete, it will be easier than ever for people to use their bikes on towpaths in the city.” Peter Mathews of the Canal & River Trust added: “This investment won’t just make cycling easier and safer along our towpaths, but also benefit the boaters, walkers and joggers who enjoy our wonderful waterways.”
Famously, Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice, with the ‘Birmingham Canal Navigations’ totalling some 100 miles – and even more in connecting canals. However, much of the BCN is actually in Wolverhampton and the Black Country, while this upgrade project will only consider those towpaths within the city boundaries.