Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Birmingham moves closer to banning through motor traffic from city centre

Councillors expected to vote through plans later this month to create seven LTNs inside city’s ring road

Birmingham is moving closer to banning through motor traffic from its city-centre and surrounding areas, with councillors due to vote through plans later this month to in effect create seven large low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) or, “traffic cells,” as the council calls them.

Under the plans, which were first announced last year, motorists would be able to move between the zones by exiting and entering each of them via the city’s ring road, but moving directly between the areas will not be possible.

The ambitious proposals to restrict the movement of motor vehicles within the UK’s second largest city are likely to be studied by local authorities elsewhere in the country, with the government committed to reducing traffic and encourage active travel.

> Birmingham heralds end to “golden age of cars” by banning trips by private motorists across city centre

Writing in the Guardian, transport author and journalist Carlton Reid says that the Labour-controlled Birmingham City Council will vote on the measures, which were put out to consultation early in 2020, next month and councillors are expected to back the proposals.

As well as introducing zero-emission buses, the plans also include creating a network of segregated cycle lanes, as well as further pedestrianisation of the city centre.

When the scheme was first unveiled as part of the Birmingham Transport Plan 2031, the council said it would bring an end to what it termed “the golden age of cars,” and that the city “is now entering a new cycle of change which will be different because no single mode of transport will be dominant.

It pointed out that one in four car journeys in the city – which hosts the Commonwealth Games next year and will also be transformed in the next few years due to the arrival of HS2 – are one mile or less, and wants to discourage those shorter trips.

“Instead, members of the travelling public will have a choice between a range of modes of transport – each of them accessible, viable and sustainable – which together will form a go-anywhere, anytime integrated transport system,” added the council, which .

The council’s cabinet member for transport and the environment, Waseem Zaffar, told Reid that “the key principles are the same” as those consulted on last year, and that “people want these changes.”

The son of a taxi driver, Zaffar admitted that he used to drive everywhere but now cycles around the city as well as using its public hire electric scooters and also aims to use buses more.

“Introducing the blue cycling lanes was probably the most popular thing the council has done in a long time,” he said.

You couldn’t get me out of my car four years ago. I would take journeys of less than one mile by car; I hadn’t been on a bus since my university days, and I had never cycled until the summer of 2018, added Zaffar, who confessed, “I should also walk more.”

Consultation into the plans closed in March 2020 just as the first national lockdown in England came into force, and several months before LTNs – or rather, opposition to them – became an issue seized upon by some elements of the media, and Zaffar expects there to be some battles ahead as Birmingham translates its vision into reality.

However, underlining that the council’s transport plan is a “radical, bold and brave” move, he added: “I didn’t come into politics to win popularity contests; I came into politics to change lives for the better.”

Following publication of the Guardian’s article, Reid also tweeted a map showing the location of the planned

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


imajez | 2 years ago

This looks like they are copying the clever system Ghent introduced a few years back. Though you also need good bike infrasucture to complete the circle of getting folk out of cars and engaging in active travel. 


barongreenback replied to imajez | 2 years ago

It works really well in Gent although with the one caveat that they still haven't sorted the problem of the tram tracks, which unfortunately do cause many injuries each year.  The streets in the city centre can get really crowded with pedestrians, which can make it all too easy to lose sight of where you are and get your wheel stuck in a track.  That said, I believe they are working on solutions.

Great to see Birmingham do this.  I used to commute by bike from outside the city 10 years ago and it was often unpleasant.

Timsen | 2 years ago

The Council have been trying to stop cars visiting the City Centre for years through their policy of outrageous parking charges which are rigorously enforced even in the evenings and weekends when it's already very quiet. This is certainly a deterent to people wishing to visit Restaurants/Bars etc in the City Centre. The only impact of the new clean air zone I can see is that taxi drivers have been given a hand out to change their (very) old vehicles which arguably they shouldnt have been using in any event. For this policy to work there needs to be credible alternative means of transport. Birmingham has a huge potential catchment area, large parts of which are not comuttable by bike, the trains arent brilliant and the tram is extremely limited & a bit of a joke. If they dont get it right the Council will just kill the City Centre, meanwhile traffic around the middle ring road will be unaffected or worse !

imajez replied to Timsen | 2 years ago

So folk want to spend money in bars and restaurants, but are put off by the far smaller cost of parking their car? 
Can you not see the problem with that line of thinking? 
Plus and this is a big one according the Birmingham parking info it's free after 7.30pm anyway

ktache replied to imajez | 2 years ago
1 like

Twenty years back, so long before the new infrastructure, I cycled all over Birmingham, commuting, utility and leisure, though foot and mouth put a stop to my use of the massive canal network to get far out into the countryside.

Getting into town was the only thing that was simple on public transport, buses for me, but the train seemed to worked quite well for some too.

Getting between the different villages by not going into the centre of the city, now that was much more of a problem.

vthejk | 2 years ago

This is welcome. I have always hated travelling within Brum because of the horrendous traffic, uncouth and irritable drivers and near-neverending roadworks and changes. It's nearly put me off working there in the past. Hopefully these planned changes will actually result in it becoming more pleasurable to travel through there rather than creating a ripple effect (pessimism perhaps?) of angry motorists who are protesting their born 'rights' to drive through the city.

peted76 | 2 years ago

A radical change and step change for the city which has been absolutley hammered by traffic works for the past few years. Brum was a place I'd drive to in past years but now it's a place I activley avoid driving to. 

I will point out that ten years ago, a day return on the train was £7.50, it now costs £15.60. 

AlsoSomniloquism replied to peted76 | 2 years ago

Tbh it is a welcome reversal of the times from when brum centre was the cars paradise and pedestrians were forced into stinking subways and tunnels if they wanted to traverse the city. Over the years they have reversed that in places but it still has scars like getting from the centre to the jewellery quarter. It will be interesting what the do with the Queensway roads now especially Great Charles Street sections. 

chrisonatrike | 2 years ago

Great - if it happens that's definitely not a small step for a UK city. Long way to go but even these folks started by doing a very similar thing. Admittedly they did so before their modal share for bike trips tanked to about 1-3% like in the UK. How they did this starts at 1:47 in this video. Trigger warning - this was all started by lefty types. Don't worry it's a non-partisan issue now, they've moved on to better things.

ktache | 2 years ago

Good luck Brum.

Latest Comments