July 08, 2022 5 min read
See.Sense Report Birmingham
For the latest edition of our See.Sense Report series, we’re taking a look at Birmingham - a city home to a large community of passionate cyclists, and a city which has lots of active See.Sense users regularly submitting See.Sense Reports.
We have received over 1,200 reports from the See.Sense community since 2020, allowing us to piece together a detailed view of the city’s cycling network. We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to submit a report - it’s fantastic to see cyclists making their voice heard and helping to impact positive changes!
Just earlier this year in March 2022, the data collected by See.Sense cyclists helped to inform the locations of Close Pass Campaigns conducted by West Midlands Police and Fire Departments, so it’s clear just how much real, positive impact can be had through this data.
The analysis undertaken for this series is based on data from the See.Sense Report feature, which enables cyclists to report the location of any issues they encounter during their ride through the See.Sense app. Over the past two years, cyclists have been busy reporting issues, and requesting infrastructure changes, to help with the safety of their rides.
We’ve broken this report down into two sections, ride survey comments and infrastructure comments. First up, ride survey comments!
As you can see from the chart below, the majority of ride survey comments are based on close passes, at 43.9%. This is where a vehicle fails to leave enough space - at least 1.5m - when passing a cyclist. Following this, the most commonly reported issue was potholes, with 23.1% of reports highlighting poor road surface. A large number of comments (28.6%) fall under the ‘other’ category, in which case a comment could not be easily defined under a particular category.
The City Road, in the west of Birmingham, represents one of the main areas reported by cyclists as being affected by close passes. The route holds a mix of residential and commercial property, as well as a primary school. No cycle infrastructure is currently in place along the road. A key issue here appears to be cars mounting the footpath to park, resulting in a narrowing of the road. One report states that they were “overtaken when bottleneck cars park half on the path and road, with traffic coming in the opposite direction.” This is echoed by another user, stating - “Too many overtaking when not enough room to allow 1.5m.” Another user has highlighted that on this road there is “lots of room to overtake, yet some drivers need to allow more room.”
Located close by, the Thimblemill Road has also received several reports relating to close passes. This road does not have any dedicated cycle infrastructure, and witnesses a high level of kerbside parking. More so than City Road, the speed of traffic is being regularly highlighted here. One report states, “close passes and speeding drivers on Thimblemill Road again. Traffic calming needed here”, while another raises the issue of, “close passes by cars going too fast and/or overtaking at the exact point where a car was passing in the other direction where the road was not wide enough for the three of us.” This is confirmed by another cyclist, stating, “3x close pass in quick succession along Thimblemill Road.”
The Queensbridge Road, which runs along the north end of Birmingham’s Highbury Park, has been highlighted as having a large number of potholes. The majority of reports are located towards the bottom of the Queensbridge Road, near the junction with Alcester Road. Indeed, these potholes can be seen from the image above. One cyclist has reported, “Terrible road surface all along Queensbridge road. Shame that the team that added the speed bumps didn’t have some extra asphalt to fill the huge holes too!”
Infrastructure comments provide users of the See.Sense app with an opportunity to suggest improvements to their local infrastructure, such as additional bike lanes, extra cycle parking or improved traffic lights timings. As can be seen from the stats below, the most common request is for separated cycle lanes to be added (40.8%). Following this, traffic calming requests to reduce speed are the next most popular at 17.3%, while timings (4.2%), space (3.2%), and parking (1.8%) make up the remainder of infrastructure requests. A large majority of infrastructure reports submitted also fall under the ‘other’ category, at 32.4%.
An arterial route that runs westward from the centre of Birmingham, Hagley Road has been identified by several cyclists as a route that would benefit from physical separation between cyclists and vehicles. The busy route - which in large part has two or three lanes running in both directions - does not have any cycle infrastructure currently in place. A large number of comments stress the positive impact that implementing cycle lanes along Hagley Road could have, with one user stating that it “would encourage more people to ride to work and make it safer.” Another cyclist argues that cycle infrastructure would “make it safer for cyclists and car drivers.’ Additionally, a further comment highlights that “in some parts there are multiple lanes and lane changing is extremely tricky when cars are going above 30 mph and won’t allow you to change, which means you stop in your lane and other cars get annoyed.”
In addition to its previous feature for close passes, the Thimblemill Road has also received several requests for traffic calming by See.Sense cyclists. This is in line with the ride survey comments received on the road which highlighted high traffic speeds. One comment describes the situation here as “very dangerous, as some drivers break the speed limit,” while another comment reports, “Most of the drivers appear to be using this road as a race track putting others in danger e.g. pedestrians and cyclists other vehicles.”
The Chester Road in North Birmingham has seen high levels of obstructive parking along the route's cycle lane. Although this cycle lane is separated from vehicles, it runs alongside a footpath adjacent to housing, resulting in a large number of parked cars blocking the lane. One comment states, “there has been a cycle lane there since forever, however it is more of a car park for the residents who have drives and marked on road parking. Chester Road is busy and you are pushed into using either a bad footpath or a busy main road.” This is reinforced by a further user, who describes the cycle lane as being “blocked by several parked cars. It is there but not usable due to no enforcement of the fact it is a cycle lane. Also the surface is breaking up as a result of vehicles regularly driving on it.”
Thank you to all members of the See.Sense community who have submitted a See.Sense report. We hope that the reports featured here have been able to shed light on some of the issues that can be encountered when cycling in Birmingham. If you have personally encountered any of the issues that have been raised in this report, then please let us know!
If you want to make a report of your own, simply download the free See.Sense app - no purchase of See.Sense light is required. You can drop a pin highlighting close passes, collisions, obstructions and more using our Ride Survey feature. If you have ideas about how your city can improve cycling, you can also make suggestions using our Infrastructure Request feature.
By using See.Sense Report, you’re joining a community of cyclists who are helping make cycling safer and smarter, and enabling city and transport planners to improve cycle infrastructure. To learn more, visit See.Sense Report.
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