This morning saw the launch of the new Birmingham Mobility Action Plan at the Town Hall.  The document was launched by Birmingham City Council Leader Sir Albert Bore, alongside a panel which included Cabinet Members James McKay and Tahir Ali, Steve Chatwin from Centro, Jerry Blackett from the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Gary Cardin representing the Colmore Business Improvement District (as well as the other city centre Business Districts), and David Cox of CTC

The Town Hall was full and attendees included business leaders, local councillors, as well as representatives from many voluntary organisations. The event itself opened with presentations from Sir Albert Bore and the consultancy which has drafted the Action Plan, before opening to the floor for an hour of questions to the panel. The event was informative and interesting, and the standard of questions was high.

The Action Plan appears to offer a sustainable, holistic and ambitious vision of the Birmingham’s transport network could look like in the next 20+ years. Birmingham Friends of the Earth cautiously welcome the Plan however the devil will very much be in the detail and it is by no means perfect. It also remains to be seen how the schemes outlined will be funded going forward.

Our Campaigns Support Worker, Julien Pritchard, said:

“The draft Birmingham Mobility Action Plan offers an ambitious holistic and sustainable vision for our transport system. It is good to see the city have a sense of purpose in its transport policy for the next 20+ years.

“As a group that is campaigning on tackling air pollution through greater use of walking and cycling, we are also pleased to see the Action Plan acknowledging the need to tackle air quality and recognising that traffic is its major cause. The explicit desire to encourage a modal shift away from cars towards walking and cycling as well as public transport is also encouraging.

Julien continued:

“However, while the document does offer some ideas on how these projects could be funded, it is by no means certain that the funding can be secured to deliver this vision. The council will need to put in place concrete steps to secure funding, and ensure that this does not simply become another aspirational document gathering dust on a shelf.

“While the Action Plan does place good emphasis on cycling, it is not ambitious enough with regards to the number of cycle journeys. We feel Birmingham should be aiming for 10% of cycle journeys in the next 10 years rather than the next 20.”

Birmingham Friends of the Earth were not the only organisation which had good words to say about the document, with Professer David Cox of CTC saying that this was the highest prominence given to cycling in any document of this type that he had seen.

As today was only the launch of the document, Birmingham Friends of the Earth will be looking at the proposals in greater detail and ensuring that the Council at the very least maintains and acts on this level of ambition.