Monday, January 13, 2020


If Birmingham does follow through on a proposal to ban private cars from driving through the centre, then it'll be a continuation of the radical transformation of a city infamously remodelled for the sake of road traffic flow in the 1960s. Positive changes were already afoot when we lived there in the early noughties, when pedestrians were finally prioritised over motorists, walkability was the watchword and dank, badly lit underpasses were being replaced with above-ground crossings.

The Labour council's apparent commitment to cutting carbon emissions through decisive action is laudable. It would be a bitter pill for many, but one that needs to be swallowed - not least by Tory councillors like Robert Alden, who moan about their political rivals being "out of touch" when in reality they'd be precisely the opposite: in tune with those who realise the scale of the environmental crisis we face and the urgency with which it needs to be addressed.

However, the council's scheme will only work with substantial improvements to public transport infrastructure. The proposal has grabbed the headlines, and rightly so, but there is much preparatory work to be done - work that will involve significant investment - before it can be implemented and stand any chance of success.

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