Birmingham's Green Future


Throughout the twentieth century Birmingham regarded itself as a 'motoring city'.  A popular joke was that in the post war period the city planners did more damage than the Luftwaffe when hey subjugated the city centre to a concrete collar of dual carriageways.  Over the last twenty years this has gradually been unpicked and pedestrianisation has transformed the city centre.  

A further profound image change for Birmingham is now taking place as the Greenways Network is developed.

The network could be enhanced by landscaping and the planting of trees and shrubs  so that it becomes a feature of the city linked to its parks. i.e. a marketable tourist commodity that will generate revenue for Birmingham.  Trees could be planted along the linking 20mph side roads to emphasise that these also form part of the Greenways Network.  

These are some ideas that have been put forward and / or are being considered. 

A new route from Warley Woods to Cannon Hill Park via Chad Valley, Harborne Walkway, - passing to the rear of the Botanical Gardens and then between Edgbaston Golf Club and King Edwards Schools.   This could be an excellent walking / leisure cycling route through the west side of the city.  This is now marked on the long term strategic plan.

Opening up the disused railway tunnel under Gas Street Basin to allow direct access to the rear of New Street Station.

Developing a route through Witton along or near the newly cleaned Tame River to improve the link between Perry Barr and Salford Park.

Constructing  a footbridge over the River Tame to connect Salford Park directly to the Tame Valley Canal.  This could be a replica of the original Salford Bridge similar to the mediavel Perry Bridge.  This could be a feature under Spaghetti Junction especially if the area under the motorway is landscaped.  Connecting the Tame Valley Canal to Brookvale Park using a route under the M6 interchange past the Greek Community Centre is already being implemented.  The two parks - Salford Park and Brookvale Park could be joined to form one large park under Spaghetti Junction.  This would transform motorists perception of the city,  especially if the bridges were painted in Cadbury or JLR colours ! 

Opening up and landscaping the River Rea through Digbeth and constructing an elevated walkway / cycleway so that a connection can be made between Cannon Hill Park and the Digbeth / Grand Union Canal.  Elevated cycleways alongside railway lines have been introduced in New York in the form of the Hi-Line. The route could also connect the Digbeth Bus Station to the city centre. The Millenium Walkway in the Peak District at New Mills offers a benchmark. 

Development of a walkway and cycclepath along the route of the former Lapal / Dudley Number 2 Canal from Selly Oak to Leasowes Park.  This would link Birmingham University to Halesown Cycling and Athletics track.  Cleaning up the River Stour would enable the route to be continued to Cradley Heath.

Development of the network as a a tourist trail for Birmingham attractions incorporating sculptures along the route similar to that implemented on The Black Country Spine Road.   Charaacters out of the Hobbit - a book with world wide sales of well over 100 million copies - e.g Trolls, Goblins, Dwarves, Elves, Giant Siders, Dragons, Eagles etc. could be featured.

The possibility of of a L'Eroica style retro cycle event.  This attracts cyclists from all over the world to the Chianti region in Tuscany.  This is for classic bikes more than twenty years old - many of them made in the 1940's and 1950's.  It is not a race but a celebration of heritage, culture,  the local way of life, and the joy of off road cycling.  Interestingly the original sponsor for the event was  Brooks Saddles of Downing Street Smethwick.   See link.

The L'Eroica, Chianti, Tuscany  

Green Manufacturing 

In 1900 Birmingham had the largest number of bicycle and bicycle accessory firms in the U.K. and by the 1930's, the Hercules Cycle and Motor Company of Aston was considered to be the largest producer of bicycles in the world.  There seems no reason why Birmingham could not re-establish itself as a centre of excellence for hi-tech bicycle manufacturing in the same way that Jaguar Landrover has transformed its quality and image.  (View link below)

The London Schiool of Economics estimates that cycling is now worth 3 Billion to the U.K. economy.  

Cycling is big business, and Birmingham has been missing out……… BUT…maybe the wheels are now turning !!

If you have any 'blue sky' GREEN thoughts please use the email below.

Best wishes,

Roy Watson

contact: rjwatson@birminghamcyclinggreenways.co.uk                                                  © 2015 Roy Watson