Get Britain (and Northfield) Cycling


You may have heard that the Government has recently announced a £94 million new funding commitment to improve cycling in the UK. I strongly welcome the news that the Department for Transport will now be investing £10 a head for cycling infrastructure in 10 cities – including Birmingham. As action to ‘Get Britain Cycling’ is an issue that lots of constituents have contacted me about, I have been calling for action on cycling safety in Parliament and for Birmingham City Council to make specific improvements in the Northfield area.

Our city, like so many others up and down the country, currently lacks the infrastructure necessary to support people who want to cycle.  More investment will have enormous social and economic benefits for the UK – including tackling rising obesity levels, the obesity crisis, saving the NHS millions, reducing congestion, and protecting the environment.  The return on our investment would be huge!

Improvements are slowly being made. In 2012 the Government approved Birmingham’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund bid – which contained proposals to promote walking, cycling and public transport in the city. The Bristol Road/A38 (including Northfield town centre) was one of the areas selected for inclusion in the bid.

But unfortunately the gap between commitment and action on cycling still remains far too wide. The current proposals for improving cycling in Northfield – which essentially consist of speed restrictions and cycle parking facilities – show a lack of vision and ambition. Like others in the community, I am pressing the Council to reconsider their proposals. I strongly encourage local people to participate in this consultation so the community can determine how this money will be spent. You can submit your views by emailing until 23 August 2013.

Too often local and national government expresses support for cycling but fail to give the issue the real leadership it requires. The recent funding announcements are welcome but don’t go far enough. We need bold national targets for cycling participation and safety – which Labour is proposing, but the Government has scrapped. Cycling must be put at the heart of planning across the departments for health, business and local government, and not only transport. And as many constituents have told me, we need to increase funding commitments to the level of our European counterparts to ensure long term change. It is spending of £24 spend per head every year that has created  high cycling levels in the Netherlands, where 25% of all journeys are made by bicycle.

I will be keeping a close watch on how the Government and Council invest these funds to ensure that everyone in Birmingham and Northfield has the opportunity to get cycling.


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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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