‘Travel Diaries From Around Birmingham’

John Newson- Walking

I walk to work daily, which is about one mile or 1.5 kms. There is no bus service, as the inner city streets are too narrow. I sometimes cycle, if in a hurry, as it is only 10 minutes, but then I don’t get enough exercise! Not having somewhere to put the bike at work is a deterrent. To run a car would cost several weeks of my annual income – why would I work to support a metal box?

Walking is a very positive part of my lifestyle. I see the sky, the birds, the trees and people’s gardens. I feel proud of the trees I helped to plant. I notice what changes are happening in the neighbourhood, and talk to people that I meet, in a personal and sometimes a professional capacity, since I work in community development in the “patch”. I feel I am helping build the city rather than just charging through it. I choose to inhabit my environment and I support local shops. This means I don’t need a car to shop, or a big freezer to store food.

The main problem with walking is obstruction from cars parked on the footway and piles of bin bags, ripped open by cats and rats. The pedestrian crossings seem to be very slow, conveying that drivers are many times more important than walkers. I feel threatened by the huge lorries on the Moseley Road and wonder if they could be diverted onto a more suitable highway, away from all the children walking to school.

I walk past the defunct Balsall Heath railway station where I see trains using the line. I think how fast it would be to get into town if we had a station once again – “too sensible” I have been told. Millions of car journeys could be displaced. It is obvious that the streets were built to lead down to the station.

It is good to walk, and I hope it can become even better and safer, when walking is recognised as an essential part of the transport system. We seem to have lived through “government of the motorist, by the mortorist, for the motorist”

‘Travel Diaries From Around Birmingham’