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Launch of the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan

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WSP Group, diagram of draft future Birmingham transport network (Nov 2013)

WSP Group, diagram of draft future Birmingham transport network (Nov 2013)

On 21 June 2013 WSP Group announced that it had been appointed to provide advice on a redevelopment of Birmingham’s transport policy and infrastructure, in an initiative led by Birmingham City Council and its leader Councillor Sir Albert Bore to put a new perspective on mobility in the city. Councillor Bore presented the draft of WSP’s Birmingham Mobility Action Plan on the morning of 7 November.

[Speech by Albert Bore]

‘A Vision for Transport in Birmingham’

Good morning and welcome to this breakfast launch of BMAP.

This morning, I invite you to join in a conversation to develop a shared twenty year strategic vision for addressing Birmingham’s future transport needs.

Transport is a vital enabler of city life, from local to global, and everything in between. Birmingham’s position at the heart of the UK’s canal, rail and road networks has fuelled the development of the city since the eighteenth century, whilst the global fame of ‘Spaghetti Junction’ has shaped the perception many have of Birmingham as a city of concrete and cars.

In recent times, transport in Birmingham has struck a different note, with a series of government grant bids enabling us to start delivering a transformational programme of investments to improve conditions for cyclist and walkers across the city, and the £550m investment in New Street Station.

But what is missing is a multi-modal vision of future transport in Birmingham, built and shared by city stakeholders, and supporting the wider aspirations of the city and its people – a vision which provides the foundation for setting investment priorities and understanding what each component of the transport system needs to provide to support the inclusive and sustainable growth of the city, with a transport system that works for everyone.

This is the challenge for Birmingham Mobility Action Plan.

Some months ago, Birmingham City Council commissioned consultants to undertake research on current transport in Birmingham – to understand how people are using the present system, what works and what doesn’t work, where the pressure points are on the network and where they will be as the city grows and evolves.

They were also asked to asked to understand the future ‘asks’ that the city will make of its transport system and the ways in which other cities across the world have met these sorts of challenges or might be seeking to meet them in the future.

From this analysis, they have developed a framework for addressing Birmingham’s future transport needs have explored measures to address. This forms the basis of our consultation document, the BMAP.

Transport is often described as an ‘enabler’ – a physical system of infrastructure which allows people, businesses, communities and, indeed, cities, to achieve their wider aspirations. Building a shared vision for transport in Birmingham starts with a shared understanding of these wider aspirations.

We need a three dimensional approach to the strategic planning and introduction of a new transport system for Birmingham.

This was the starting point for the development of the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan.

Birmingham needs a ‘go anywhere’ transport system accessible to all.

At a personal level, this means ensuring that vehicles and public spaces cater for the needs of the frail and the mobility impaired. At the community level, this means ensuring that the most isolated and disadvantaged communities get improved access to jobs, training and amenities; and at network level this means rebalancing the allocation of road space to accommodate a modal mix which meets the needs of people and businesses, both now and in the future, rather than perpetuating the dominance of single occupancy car drivers.

Birmingham needs to gain a reputation as the enterprise capital of Britain and the engine of regional growth.

To do this, we need a seamless ‘door to door’ transport system which promotes Birmingham as a place in which people want to live, work, visit and invest.

Birmingham also needs high quality transport connections, including HS2, not only to support growth but help ensure that the opportunities which growth offers are accessible to all Birmingham communities and the rest of the country.

A recent report by Centre for Cities noted that Birmingham has seen a greater centralisation of jobs than almost any other city in the UK, with the city centre being the base of 10.5% of Birmingham jobs and 25% of office jobs. The number of knowledge intensive roles based in the city rose by 35% in the 13 years to 2011.

Birmingham’s Big City Plan aims to increase the size of the city core by 25%, with improved transport connectivity and an emphasis away from private car use and enhanced amenity for walking and cycling being key ingredients for its success.

Birmingham needs to be at the forefront of developing transport solutions which balance economic growth against any negative environmental and health consequences.

Transport plays a key role in Birmingham’s economy – connecting people with jobs and training, with goods and services and with leisure activities.

And so by its very nature, if more people are accessing employment and education, if more goods are being produced and transported, if people are accessing services and enjoying leisure opportunities, there will be more demand for good transport networks.

By 2031, Birmingham’s population is projected to grow by an additional 150,000 people. This could result in 80,000 more cars in the City and 200,000 more daily trips on our roads. DfT forecasts congestion could increase by as much as 83% by 2035, but around one third of households don’t have access to a car.

We currently have around 400 accidents in the city each year resulting in death or serious injury and most Birmingham residents are not active enough for optimal health.

We want the growth of Birmingham to bring benefits for all our citizens and communities, and to leave a positive legacy for future generations. This demands a radical rethink of how our transport systems will operate.

BMAP has been developed to deliver against five overarching objectives:

§ Equitable Birmingham – facilitate a more equitable transport system; linking communities together and improving access to jobs and services;

§ Efficient Birmingham – facilitate the City’s growth agenda in the most efficient and sustainable way possible;

§ Sustainable Birmingham – BMAP will specifically reduce the impacts of air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption;

§ Healthier Birmingham – contribute to a healthier Birmingham; and

§ Attractive Birmingham – contribute to enhancing the attractiveness and quality of the urban environment.

The key aim of BMAP is to set out Birmingham’s transport agenda and demonstrate clear linkages between transport investment and the generation of jobs and economic growth, with much improved environmental and health benefits.

The strategy and technical analysis which goes with it can then be used to lobby for the powers and funding to make it happen, and help build the partnerships and investment plans needed to deliver our vision.

Birmingham, along with other Core Cities, is in dialogue with Government seeking more local control over how public money is allocated and spent on our transport systems.

We would like every major city in the UK to enjoy the same freedoms and flexibilities enjoyed by Transport for London, who have had considerable success in building London’s public transport services. This would put us on par with city regions in Europe and help us drive national growth.

Key ‘asks’ include a single settlement for the whole of local transport funding with maximum flexibility on how it is spent, and devolution of powers so that we have more direct control in managing our local transport networks efficiently.

The ability to retain income generated locally could potentially allow us to invest in ‘up front’ infrastructure improvements, attract private sector investment through long-term partnership arrangements and engage the European Investment Bank, as many other European cities have done.

I will shortly hand over to Simon Statham, of WSP Group, who will give an overview of the analysis and proposals within the BMAP Green Paper.

However, before I do so, I would like to reiterate that I see this morning as the start of a conversation:

• with Birmingham people and businesses

• with other partners and stakeholders about what sort of transport system will best meet our future needs and how we can work together to deliver it, and

• with Government about giving us the freedoms and flexibilities to deliver the quality of transport system Birmingham needs

I am very pleased to see so many of our partners and stakeholders here today. I look forward to the dialogue over coming months on how we shape and take forward Birmingham’s transport vision together.

We will be reaching out to the most important partners of all, the people of Birmingham – all 1 million of them – inviting them to have their say on how transport in Birmingham can be reshaped over the next 20 years.

BBC News reported that above-ground multi-storey car parks and 1970s city centre road tunnels, were identified as problems in the draft BMAP.

[BBC News, 7 Nov] […]
WSP associate director Simon Statham, citing the example of the Snow Hill car park, said the council could “sell that land to developers and get more money back than it would in car park revenue”.

The report proposed investment in walking and cycling provision, including more than 350km (217 miles) of new or upgraded cycle routes.

By 2031 Birmingham’s population is projected to grow by an additional 150,000 people, the report said. It said this could lead to 80,000 more cars in the city.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore, who launched the plan at Birmingham Town Hall on Thursday, said the tunnels would not close.

“It’s not about closing them, it’s about redesignating their use,” he said.

“At the moment they are used as a through route. The question is ‘should that be their long-term use’?

According to Case Study Review work for BMAP, for Birmingham to be a ‘global transport oriented city’

* An extensive and dense mass transit system network is a must

* Buses fill in the gaps and services the mass transit network

* Integrated ticketing pulls the system together

* City centres are for people, not cars

* Road space is a valuable commodity to be shared

* Walking and cycling are key modes

The city of Lyon has made a “massive step forward since adopting an Urban Mobility Plan in 1997”, according to the BMAP launch material.

BMAP presentation claimed that Lyon lyon-case-study

“Massive step forward”? In the period 1995 to 2006, transports en commun in Lyon increased their mode share from 13% to 15.3%, bikes went from 1.1% to 2.2%, and private cars went from 51.9% to 47.4%. Most likely, that means there were more private car miles in the agglomeration lyonnaise in 2006, than in 1997.

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Written by beleben

November 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

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