Today’s Solutions: October 19, 2021

Birmingham, the second-largest city in the UK, has announced a revolutionary transport plan designed to lower CO2 emissions and make the city more livable by transforming it from a car-centric area into a super-sized low-traffic neighborhood.

The city currently has a population of 1.2 million and is expecting to see an additional 150,000 residents within the next 20 years. According to the city council, the implementation of their transport plan must happen as soon as possible to adequately respond to the climate emergency. The city also hopes that this plan will reduce congestion, attract more inward investment, and help protect residents from poor health.

To accomplish this transformation, city officials will close roads to motor traffic, introduce zero-emission cross-city buses, and construct more protected cycleways to encourage residents to opt for cleaner, greener travel.

The transport plan also says that the “allocation of road space will change away from prioritizing private cars to support the delivery of public transport and active travel networks fit for a global city.” This means that Birmingham will reduce available car parking within the city, significantly raise the prices for the remaining parking spaces, and invest in further pedestrianizing the city center.

According to the city council’s transport lead Waseem Zaffar, the city currently experiences an excess of single-occupancy car journeys, and 25 percent of Birmingham’s car trips are only one mile or shorter. The council hopes that by splitting the city into seven zones, people will be persuaded into choosing healthier forms of transport.

“Active travel will become the mode of choice for short trips,” the plan declares.

An earlier draft of the transport plan that was released in 2020 was met with support by businesses and citizens, which means that the radical nature of the plan isn’t lost in the final report. “The key principles are the same,” Zaffar says. “People want these changes.”

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