Why slow speeds in Birmingham?
The fast speeds are one of the main factors that stop people cycling. Cycling has all the benefits a modern society needs. It is fun, and very quick for short journeys. Combined with a bus network, long distances could be by both bike and bus. This EU paper indicates the benefits of cycling.
Slow speeds make it unsafe for children to play outside their home. Slower speeds wiill encourage children to spend more time outside, and reduce obesity.
As more people cycle and walk, there will be less street crime, and this will encourage even more cyclists and pedestrians.
Amsterdam has a 25-50% cycle rate. Amsterdam City Council set out to make cycling safer and popular, and the city has lower crime levels than Birmingham, less obesity, and higher educational levels. Could this be a coincidence?
Health (see detail)
Cycling reduces obesity and diabetes rates by 50%, and at present Birmingham has some of the highest rates in the UK. Depression is reduced by 30%, and as with any exercise people feel happier. To achieve significant health improvements many more people would have to cycle. At present they are too frightened to cycle here, but the evidence from other cities indicates many people would cycle if speeds were slower, if there was less traffic, if there were cycle paths by the side of busy roads, if roads were better designed without large fast roundabouts, and if there was cycle training. These are the components of a cycle network this website is campaigning for (see the evidence).
Environmental benefits: each 5000 miles we drive or fly warms the planet about 1 billionth oc (see detail)
See our simulation and calculate your own contribution. These amounts sound tiny, but in Birmingham we drive 1 billion miles a year, so the city (and its residents flying) is warming the planet 1 fiftieth (0.02) degree each year. With so many 'car based' cities, the tiny amounts add up to a significant global temperature rise. Cycling produces negligible pollution...the pollution is only caused by the manufacture of the bicycle itself.
Social benefits (see detail)
We know exercise reduces criminal behaviour by 30%, and increase academic achievement 10% (discussed here). When we cycle we are more aware of our surroundings, we will look after them better, and will be able to watch those around us. There is considerable evidence that cycling and walking helps us meet our neighbours we otherwise would not see, we tend to use local shops instead of hypermarkets several miles away, and this helps the area retain its facilities. Fewer corner shops, post offices, swimming pools, and libraries will close. All this makes us feel happier and more included in our local community. See the evidence.
Financial benefits (see detail)
This EU paper summarises the benefits to an area. As in our study of Aston there are savings from reduced obesity, diabetes, mental health problems, drug use, crime. There are gains in education. But there is much to be gained with more investment as the city becomes more pleasant, and a more sustainable economy could be developed.