Hundreds of signatures were gathered by Birmingham Friends of the Earth and local people on a petition in 2019 against this road scheme. Transport West Midlands wanted to widen Moseley Road, adding another lane so as to allow for a part-time bus lane. This required felling the avenue of plane trees and narrowing the footways through the centre of Balsall Heath, then removing a pedestrian refuge in Moseley Village. In 2021, the scheme was formally abandoned, only parking restrictions are to be changed to assist the buses.
Our petition was presented by the ward Councillor to a full City Council meeting, after a ward meeting and a site visit. COVID 19 delivered a final blow, in that people had to observe two metre social distancing, hence narrowing of footways was obviously going to be unsafe. Bus passenger numbers have declined during COVID, as well as overall commuting traffic, which eroded the time savings that were used to justify the scheme. Meanwhile, new stations on the rail line through Moseley and Kings Heath have received funding (another BFOE ask) and this will soon give an alternative transport option. The new Birmingham Transport Plan, which we support, is about deterring people from driving into the city centre, where they may have to pay the Clean Air charge. The whole approach of widening roads in order to cure congestion now lacks justification. All experience in Birmingham is that offering more road space just encourages more journeys by car. The declaration of a Climate Emergency by the City Council in 2019 implies that they should be planning for less traffic in future, not more, as we pointed out.
BFOE was successful because we made allies within the city council and in the affected communities along Moseley Road/ Alcester Road and gave them a voice, just at a time when past trends had stalled, allowing for a big change in transport policy for the city. Our “No” was actually a “yes” to the alternatives. The pedestrian experience in Balsall Heath will now get better, instead of worse, new street trees are to be planted, while the road will operate more efficiently for everyone.