Birmingham’s new cycling paths have been painted to save money, councillor claims

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Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Environment Deirdre Alden confronted Minister for Transport Liz Clements about the decision to paint the city’s new cycling paths with black tarmac

Some of Birmingham’s new cycling paths have been painted with black tarmac to save money, despite posters instructing drivers to “think blue let cyclists through” a councillor has claimed.

Black tarmac is cheaper to maintain than blue tarmac, but the decision has prompted safety concerns for cyclists in the city.

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Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Environment Deirdre Alden confronted Minister for Transport Liz Clements about the change at Wednesday’s council meeting. Cllr Clements responded: “Perhaps you’re thinking of the new infrastructure that we’ve built past Edgbaston Cricket Ground down Priory Road and up towards Salisbury Road in Mosley – there it is black tarmac.

“I’m not aware of any policy decision to stop using blue tarmac but I will undertake to go and find out for you. I do know that maintaining a coloured surface like that is more expensive than the routine one, but I will check that out for you.”

Cllr Deirdre Alden standing on black tarmac cycle lanes on Priory Road EdgbastonCllr Deirdre Alden standing on black tarmac cycle lanes on Priory Road Edgbaston
Cllr Deirdre Alden standing on black tarmac cycle lanes on Priory Road Edgbaston | LDRS

Cllr Alden responded that she had thought the cycling route was a temporary measure to finish it in time for the Commonwealth Games.

She said: “It was only finished by the skin of its teeth basically – and I thought they would put the blue on afterwards.

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“But we are now in November and it’s still not blue and since there are still posters around saying ‘think blue let cyclists through’ it’s pretty pointless when the cycleway is not blue, so please could you chase it up.”

The poor state of Birmingham’s roads was highlighted at a recent event on Car Culture organised by Ladywood organisation Civic Square. Panel member Sandra Green, campaigner for Car Free Birmingham at climate charity Possible, talked about being a nervous cyclist herself at times “because the roads are so rubbish”.

After weighing up options, she had decided to take the bus to the Civic Square event but endured an extended journey.

“Then I borrowed a bike at lunchtime and it was joyous – I went along the canals” she said.

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Speaking at the same event, the West Midlands Walking and Cycling Commissioner Adam Tranter described how his mission was to present “things like a Low Traffic Neighbourhood as a solution to [people’s] problem, rather than something we’ve installed because we have got government funding for it.”

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