All change for city transport
2021 was a year of change for the city’s transport system and Colmore BID has been at the heart of it.
With more offices implementing flexible work policies, the roads in and out of the city were quieter as employees spent part of their week working from home. This drop in traffic is certainly a step in the right direction for improving accessibility and air quality, but there’s still a long way to go as we encourage those entering the city to look at alternatives to the car. Our aim is to encourage people back to the city in a safe way, while exploring alternative methods of transport to improve quality of life.
In June, Birmingham became the latest city to implement a Clean Air Zone in an effort to further reduce air pollution. Drivers who don’t meet the appropriate minimum emissions standards must pay a daily charge to drive in the zone. The BID is in support of the Clean Air Zone and has worked alongside Birmingham City Council to educate those who travel into the area about the changes. We also provided signposting to available financial support and exemptions for both businesses and those working in the area.
For those looking to swap their four wheels for two, in 2021 we welcomed the launch of the West Midlands Cycle Hire Scheme, which provides people with an opportunity to enjoy cycling in the city centre. More than 300 bikes have been distributed at docking stations located across the city, including Priory Queensway, Victoria Square and Eden Place, all within Colmore Business District. Recently e-bikes have been added to the mix, offering even more flexibility to this scheme.
It’s been fantastic to see so many people making use of the bike share scheme, however we still have a long way to go in improving cycling infrastructure, something Colmore BID will continue to work on in 2022. The Voi e-scooter scheme continues to build momentum across the city, however the successful pilot scheme does come to an end this autumn. Despite a few speed bumps when it initially launched, the scheme has been welcomed in the area and we hope that it may return and become a more permanent fixture, allowing for greater connectivity between the city’s boroughs.
As we begin to approach the Commonwealth Games, one of the biggest sporting events the city has seen, improving wayfinding for the hundreds of thousands visiting the city will be a key project and one we are working on with partners. 2022 is shaping up to be another busy year for us as we continue to improve accessibility and walkability around the District and city and I look forward to seeing these changes come to fruition.
Looking further ahead, we recently refreshed our group membership and held a ‘blue sky thinking’ session at which I heard some excellent ideas around improving access to, and use of, various modes of transport – with emphasis on active travel modes and public transport. We looked at things we could do, or lobby for, in the short term before the end of our current BID term, as well as during a potential fourth BID term and beyond.
The work of the Accessible & Connected working group is often around thinking, lobbying and responding to public policy, which may seem a bit dry. But, make no mistake, our work has real world effects. The Snow Hill Interchange Plan in which my group played a key role led directly to the recently completed improvements on Colmore Row outside Snow Hill station and Cornwall Street, both of which made a huge difference for pedestrian and cyclists getting around the District. I’m proud to have been at the helm of the working group that laid the ground work for these impressive changes.