Space for Cycling comes to Birmingham

Bracken van Ryssen of Solihull Bicycle Campaign discusses how to form and run a campaign group
After being in the ‘cycling city’ of Cambridge last Saturday, the Space for Cycling Roadshow’s second stop was Birmingham. Space for Cycling Campaigner Tom Guha explains how, fired up by a desire to dispose of the reputation as a 'motor city', campaigners came from near and far to discuss how to create Space for Cycling in Birmingham and across the Midlands.

While not known for its cycling culture in the same way Cambridge is, the Birmingham event offered up a different set of opportunities. 

Birmingham is one of the Government’s Cycling Ambition Cities and one of the regions due to have a new ‘metro-mayor’ as of May 2017. We discussed how we can utilise this current political context to our advantage, using the Space for Cycling process: Plan, Invest, Build. 

The day also attracted campaigners from much further afield. While in Cambridge, most campaigners were from the city itself, the Birmingham event attracted smaller contingents of campaigners from a greater variety of places. With many campaigners not working with a group, the day provided valuable networking opportunities and discussion for more joined up campaigning across the Midlands.

The day started with two parallel sessions. Tom Guha talked through the merits of creating a ‘tube map’ and trained campaigners in the tools required to produce one. Meanwhile, Bracken van Ryssen of Solihull Bicycle Campaign, spoke about how to create and run a campaign group in an environment with little support for cycling.

The day continued with training in Cyclescape and discussion on lobbying your local authority. We spoke in great detail about the benefits of getting schools on-side and ways in which this can be achieved. We also discussed how best to get your council to improve cycling infrastructure and the way in which the political make-up of your council can affect your strategy.

I thought that the event helped to convey a number of positive messages about cycling in spite of the current harsh economic climate for local authorities. For me, it was also an ideal forum for discussion and the sharing of ideas. "

Gareth Griffith, local campaigner in Birmingham.

Later in the afternoon, Chris Lowe of Birmingham Push Bikes took us on an infrastructure safari to audit some local provision using the Cycle Environment Assessment Tool. We found Birmingham’s answer to safe Space for Cycling was largely to put cyclists on the footway, despite extremely heavy footfall in some areas.

The quality of provision had some way to go to match Cambridge (most places do, after all!) but we were pleased to note how some streets, such as Hurst Street, were undergoing quite radical transformations to accommodate cyclists.

Cycling UK hopes the day proved useful to campaigners in the Midlands and that we are now one step closer toward creating safe Space for Cycling in the region. We will have to continue working together to ensure we get the best possible deal for cycling with the arrival of a new mayor in May!

We hope the discussion among campaigners in the Midlands will continue, to ensure that campaigners in such disparate campaigning contexts continue to feel supported. The Bike West Midlands Network is already doing excellent work in this area. We will continue to support the efforts of campaigners across the regions to make sure Space for Cycling becomes a reality!

A big thank you to Chris Lowe of Birmingham Push Bikes, Bracken van Ryssen of Solihull Bicycle Campaign, Dave Cox and George Reeves – and all who came along – for making the day such a success!

Why not come along to a Space for Cycling event near you!