Greenpeace Birmingham celebrates Birmingham’s Low-Traffic Neighbourhood

Chalking event adds a splash of colour to city streets.

On the 19th and 20th February, volunteers from environmental pressure group Birmingham Greenpeace hosted Covid-compliant community activities.

A mass, colourful chalking event was carried out at cycle lanes in Northbrook Street, Winson Green and Brindle Close, Acocks Green. The cycle lanes were decorated with rainbow quotes and hearts as volunteers expressed their gratitude for cycle lanes in their local areas.

Birmingham Greenpeace volunteer Kay said, “I chose to do a mass chalking event for Greenpeace Birmingham Group because it was fun, effective and environmentally friendly way to promote the cycle lanes we love; additionally, we want more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with safer, cleaner air and more space to walk and cycle”’

Kay continued, “I enjoy the use of cycle lanes in my area because they help me to navigate without coming into contact with traffic – thus a benefit to me and other drivers. The improvement I would like to see is an increase in cycle lanes because cycling is good for the body, soul and our environment; as well as an increase in families having access to cycling routes in rural areas. Also, another improvement could include discouraging drivers parking on cycle lanes, this is highly unhelpful and therefore have to swerve back into traffic to round cars; this goes against the whole idea of the cycle lanes being there in the first place.”

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the government committed £2 billion for councils to roll out new walking and cycling infrastructures like protected cycle paths and traffic calming measures. However, in last November’s Spending Review, the government maintained its commitment to spending £27 billion on new roads, while failing to guarantee any additional money for walking or cycling or green local public transport. Transport is the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a significant source of toxic air pollution, and building more roads only adds to this problem, encouraging more people to buy cars, and drive more miles.

Our transport system is unfair – people in poorer areas are more likely to die on roads, and the highest levels of air pollution are also experienced in the poorest neighbourhoods. In cities, people of colour are more likely to live near polluted streets and suffer the health impacts of air and noise pollution.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are designated to reduce traffic in certain streets, improve air quality and encourage walking and cycling. According to Bike Life, a 2020 report revealed cycling has the greatest potential to reduce economic and social exclusion; and could enable 420,000 people to travel to locations such as Bullring from their home in less than 25 minutes. This includes 310,000 people from areas amongst the 20% most deprived in England.

Creating more space for everyone to be able to walk and cycle safely is crucial for making our transport system fairer. At the moment, men are much more likely to cycle than women, and women of colour, in particular, are underrepresented among cycling. This is not the case in cities where cycling has had more support, such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen.

Kay added, “We cordially invite Boris Johnson to cycle up to Birmingham and see for himself how additional government funding for Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods would truly help level-up and support our local community.”