DIY Streets in Kings Heath

Lisa and Claire looking at plansKings Heath High Street is said to host the busiest bus route in Europe. In addition it sees some 10,000 pedestrians – many of whom are of school age at peak times – plus 1,500 cyclists every week. All of these share a road space which was built and designed when the favoured mode of transport was a horse and cart. They share it with a large amount of vehicle traffic including HGVs (as we appear to be their favoured route). It is no surprise that road safety is a key concern in the area. We have therefore worked with residents, the Neighbourhood Forum and businesses to produce a road safety plan for that area that addresses its complexity as well as its heavy use.

The reality is that we cannot do away with traffic in Kings Heath. Having said that, road safety is a big issue on the A435 and that must be addressed. In addition to tackling road safety we should make sure there is a community feel to the centre. I believe that there is a vibrancy to many parts of Kings Heath which have seen different businesses nestling amongst more traditional shops.

Unlike some places people go to shop we do not have a ‘shopping centre’ (a ‘mall’ to borrow an American term). Therefore the streets are important and we need to make those feel safe and welcoming for everyone and try to limit the impact that the traffic has.

Over the past few months Sustrans have been working with the Council, local schools and businesses on a project looking at how we could redesign Kings Heath High Street. Sustrans are a national charity that works to improve transport particularly by promoting less car use and more healthy, clean and cheap journeys. Sustrans have approached this by using a DIY Streets concept. This encourages communities to come up with the ideas and make them feel more in control of their area. Every project will be different and shaped by the particular features and factors that exist. Having said that some of the ideas that have been introduced to shift the balance have been quite radical road markings that might be patterned and coloured, the use of plants and trees or reclaiming part of the road space from traffic.

On Saturday, the Sustrans team set up a ‘parklet’ in a parking bay on the High Street and engaged people in discussion around some of the ideas so far. It was a great event and a novel way of consulting the public that hopefully drew more people into having their say.

There is more work to do. At the time of writing you can still complete a survey to feed into the work that is being done here. You can also stay in touch with what is happening on a dedicated Facebook page or by following a dedicated twitter feed.

The project is a partnership between Sustrans and Birmingham City Council partly funded by the Big Lottery. It would be great to get as many people involved as possible.


Claire Spencer and Cllrs Lisa Trickett and Martin Straker-Welds at the Sustrans Consultation

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