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July 27, 2022 5 min read

The Commonwealth Games kick off this week, bringing 11 days of sporting action to Birmingham. The focus will naturally be on the sport, but in the background the games are also seeking to deliver a victory for Birmingham. Through the Commonwealth Games Legacy Plan, the city is benefiting from increased investment and opportunities in the years following the event.

The Legacy Plan complements Birmingham City Council’s 2031 Transport Plan, which sets out a bold vision for active travel to meet the demands of the future. With this year’s Commonwealth Games placing a strong focus on sustainability and leaving a positive environmental impact on the region, the proposals outlined in the Legacy Plan are naturally having a positive impact on cycling in Birmingham

In this blog, we’re taking a look at the impact these proposals are having on cycling in the region, and highlighting how we are helping Birmingham achieve its cycling goals.  

(Image: Via Express & Star) 

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What are the Commonwealth Games Legacy Plans? 

The legacy proposals are creating a more prosperous and more sustainable city for Birmingham residents. Cycling is playing a crucial role in achieving this. Here’s some of the key schemes that will leave a positive legacy of cycling and active transport in Birmingham.

 

Cycling for Everyone

Several programmes of investment in cycling and active travel infrastructure have been implemented through the Legacy Plan. Central to this is the Transport for West Midlands’ Cycling for Everyone programme. Using £2 million in funding from the Department for Transport, Cycling for Everyone is tackling the known barriers that stop people from cycling. The programme is: 

  • Providing free cycle training to all ages, 
  • Running free or subsidised bike giveaways, 
  • Offering long term loans of adapted cycles such as trikes and recumbent bicycles, 
  • Developing community cycling hubs to connect riders to other people who cycle - thereby supporting and inspiring communities to enjoy cycling. 

Cycling for Everyone builds on the origins of the Big Birmingham Bikes Programme, which was pioneered by The Active Wellbeing Society. By encouraging cycling, the program is helping the region meet its Net-Zero Carbon Targets. See.Sense are excited to be partnering with The Active Wellbeing Society, Transport for West Midlands and Raleigh UK, using our SUMMIT GPS technology and data services to support monitoring and evaluation, to help evidence the impact free bikes. 

 

Perry Barr and Cannock Chase 

Further investment into cycling facilities has been undertaken at key locations and venues. One such region is Perry Barr, which has received £700 million for the regeneration of transport, homes and facilities in the area. This investment includes an acceleration of planned infrastructure improvements, including segregated cycle routes. At Cannock Chase, the games’ mountain biking venue, pedal and play areas and training trails have been developed to help young children and inexperienced cyclists build confidence on the saddle.

 

West Midlands Cycle Hire

In an effort to encourage spectators to opt for active travel, the Commonwealth Games have worked with West Midlands Cycle Hire to offer two free bike rides a day on their bike fleet. This offer is available for anyone who signs up to the cycle hire scheme, regardless if they’re attending the games. With more than 1,500 bikes available to hire across Birmingham, including 150 e-bikes, the scheme provides an attractive alternative to traditional methods of transport, and acts as a great introduction to cycling for many in Birmingham.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said, “I’m so pleased that not only will spectators have the cost of public transport included as part of their tickets, but also every resident will have the chance to use our cycle-hire scheme free of charge. Cycling is a fantastic way to see our glorious region, whilst also improving mental and physical health and helping us tackle the climate emergency.” - via Interchange UK

This scheme has been supported by the Canal and River Trust, who have undertaken extensive work to develop and promote accessible cycling and walking routes to get between the games’ venues. These routes are centred around Birmingham’s historic canals, all of which have been recently refurbished.

 

Cycle Parking 

To further encourage cycling, the Commonwealth Games are also providing secure cycle parking close to venues that meets everyone’s needs. This parking accommodates all types of wheelers, including bikes, adapted cycles, cargo bikes and e-bikes and is staffed to eliminate concerns about bike theft. The aim is to provide a safe and secure space for all cyclists including families, disabled riders, new cyclists and people without locks and not just a provision for seasoned cyclists. 

 

(Image: Via Birmingham Paradise)

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How are See.Sense helping Birmingham achieve its cycling vision? 

At See.Sense, we are helping Birmingham accomplish the goals set out in the Commonwealth Games Legacy Plan to get more people engaged in cycling. We have worked on a variety of projects in Birmingham to make cycling safer: 

  • Cycling for Everyone Programme: Deploying our SUMMIT Tracker technology on a number of giveaway bikes to communities across the region living areas of deprivation. Our technology and data services will help support behaviour change, monitoring, evaluation and provide insights to inform future cycle infrastructure planning.  

  • RoSPA Smart Cycling Project: In 2020, we partnered with RoSPA to conduct a six month study involving 200 cyclists equipped with See.Sense lights in Birmingham. The data collected enabled researchers to form a detailed picture of locations in Birmingham where riders most frequently experienced ‘near miss’ brake or swerve incidents. By cross-referencing this data with historic ‘STATS19’ police reports, we provided evidence that cyclists are 2.4 times more likely to experience heavy braking or swerving in the vicinity of officially recorded collision locations.
  • Coventry Smart Cycling Project: We are working with Coventry City Council and Transport for West Midlands on a smart cycling project. “The data insights gathered from this project will support the development of the future Starley Network route, as well as give insights into the quality and safety of people’s current cycling journeys within the corridor." - Councillor Patricia Hetherton, cabinet member for city services at Coventry City Council. 

  • Close Pass Campaigns: Data collected from our projects in Birmingham and Coventry has been used to inform the locations of close pass awareness campaigns run by West Midlands Police. In Birmingham, a total of 23 locations were identified for educational awareness campaigns, while in Coventry, drivers have been educated on the 1.5m+ overtaking rule in areas where a high volume of close passes were identified through See.Sense data.

 If you would like to find out more about our projects in Birmingham, and our work to make cycling safer across the globe, visit See.Sense Data Insights.