April/May Better Streets Newsletter 2024

Filed under: Newsletters

Action on Wake Green/Yardley Wood Road

This particular  location has been identified as a  hotspot for dangerous driving  by local residents. It was decided at committee that the next BSfB action would take place here as part of the national Safe Streets Now campaign. The action was attended by the Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, local councillors, and soon to be elected Mayor Richard Parker, all keen to show their support for improving road safety.  It was most encouraging to see our younger attendees shouting slogans and holding placards to get  their message across to drivers. The local press and tv news programmes  provided coverage of the event, highlighting the problems in the area and the need to provide solutions.

Meeting with Darren Dival (Road Safety Manager) and Alistair Robinson (Road Safety Officer)

Mat (Chair) and Martin (policy lead) met with Darren and Alistair to discuss ways to collaborate going forward in terms of having regular meetings and helping WMCA representatives to promote what they are doing on road safety via media and community engagements. The Road Safety team are currently piloting Viva City cameras, which were demonstrated during the meeting. These can differentiate between road users and aggregate near miss data to allow a pre-emptive rather than a reactive approach to road safety (which would no longer require people to be killed or seriously injured before interventions are authorised). BsfB explored ways in which they could use this and other data available to the road safety team to further their own campaigning work across the city.

Reddings Lane Meetings

 In 2021, a three year old girl was seriously injured when a car hit her whilst using a zebra crossing  near the schools in Reddings Lane. She was taken to  hospital but sadly passed away the next day. Local residents are concerned that this type of incident will occur again. Mat and Kirsten (campaign lead) went to meet various stakeholders including  councillors and staff from the local  schools to discuss the state of road safety in the area  since the tragedy. There was a discussion around the problems in the area, with parents dropping /collecting their children parking carelessly being a major concern.  The Nextbase 3rd party reporting system was identified as an effective short term solution to enforce parking standards around the schools. Another solution offered was bollards outside the schools which are an effective  physical deterrent for parking in the wrong locations. The long term solution which BsfB actively promotes is the possibility of making one of the roads into a School street. However, not all the affected schools had signed up to Modeshift Stars ,a national award scheme supporting and rewarding schools promoting greener, healthier and safer travel. Once registered with Modeshift stars, schools can apply to become a school street where children and families come first. 

Soho Road Town Hall Meeting

BSfB co-hosted an event with Handsworth Neighbourhood Planning Forum following on from their demo on Soho Road in response to collision which killed Khizar Hanif. Members from the council’s transport planning team including Mel Jones were part of the panel alongside Tim Lewis from Nextbase and Martin, our policy lead. Also on the panel was Alistair Robinson, regional road safety officer from WMCA. The residents were asked what were their main concerns with road safety in the area and the panellists were asked to make suggestions for interventions which they thought could help with the problems identified. The residents showed good support for measures such as 20mph speed limit and some  support for controlled parking zones. The overall feeling in the community is that there is lack of sufficient enforcement of normal driving standards on the roads and they felt they were left behind in terms of these inconsistencies. These concerns were shared by Shuranjeet Singh to the council’s Road Safety Enquiry.

St. Laurence School, Northfield

BSfB are engaging with another school to improve the safety of the children as they arrive and depart. We held a productive meeting with the heads of infants and juniors where we discussed the potential for engagement projects with pupils, employing nextbase to deter dangerous parking and aiming for school street status for the quieter roads around the school going forward. Following the meeting we approached Mel Jones (chief transport officer) to change the timings on the pedestrian lights outside the school, and this has been done. Further engagement with the school will follow.

Mel Jones

Head of Transport Planning and Network Strategy at Birmingham City Council. Members of the committee meet Mel Jones on a regular basis. This month we took up the case of Russell Road in Kings Heath / Moseley, whose residents have been pushing for measures to calm speeding on their road for many years. We are working with them and their local councillors on ways to use smaller ward based pots of funding to achieve some reduction in traffic and help tackle the issues they have faced for so long. If you have questions about any planned schemes please let the committee know via whatsapp or email so we can raise them at our regular meetings with Mel.

Road Safety Inquiry

This Task and Finish group consists of Cllr. Izzy Knowles, Cllr. Waseem Zaffar, Cllr. Richard Parkin and is chaired by Cllr. David Barker. The purpose of this meeting was to gather evidence from community representatives in the form of data/lived experiences highlighting the  road safety issues faced in their neighbourhoods.In attendance were community activists from Sheldon, Hay Mills, Bournville and Handsworth alongside Mat and Martin (Chair and Policy lead of BsfB respectively). Each activist provided the councillors an overview of the issues in their locality. The Sheldon activist provided a set of data collated over the period of a few months highlighting the problems of speeding in the area which was shocking , however, the issue is not confined to that area of Birmingham only. The councillors asked the attendees  what they wished to see as a result of the inquiry to which the general response was increased enforcement and a greater understanding of the impediments to delivery across the city. The discussions and findings of this meeting are to be included in a report written and presented to BCC later  in the year.

Meeting with Newly Elected Police and Crime Commissioner

A discussion was held regarding additional resources for road policing to tackle speeding and dangerous driving throughout the West Midlands. Attendees included Simon Foster (PCC), Ewan Hamnett (BsfB member) and Mat MacDonald (BsfB Chair). Mobile speed cameras have already been procured and hopefully will come into use over the coming months. Simon Foster will write to the new government in July to push for local retention of fines generated by speed cameras. There are plans to tackle the issue of speeding over the coming years through the use of average speed enforcement cameras. National Safer Streets funding is currently on hold, awaiting further grants from the new government from July onwards.

Max Crawshaw

I am an English teacher, living in central Birmingham and taking my bike to work in Aston. I am passionate about seeing the transformative potential of the bike applied to Birmingham. I firmly believe we can see a happier, healthier and more social city arise when we leave our cars behind.