Community-led scheme delivers Better Streets in Berkswell 

I was happy to attend the formal launch of a safe and direct community led route for residents walking to the local school through Berkswell village centre recently.

Following an initial proposal from Berkswell Parish Council funding was awarded to deliver improvements, including a Zebra Crossing which allows children and parents to cross safely, as well as new footpaths giving safe and direct routes to the school and village centre.

The scheme was developed in response to inadequate parking provision around the local primary school, combined with through traffic using the village as a rat-run, which created high risk for vulnerable road users. The improvements were put in place to increase safety and enable more people to walk or cycle shorter local journeys.

Solihull Council provided funds for an initial concept proposal from Arup. TfWM’s Better Streets fund, which funds projects identified and championed by local communities then provided funding for Solihull Council to deliver the scheme itself.

These changes have created a safer environment for the local community to walk to church services, Reading Rooms and community groups such as the Brownies. It includes traffic calming measures at all four entrance points, drastically reducing the speed of traffic passing through as well as an agreement for use of a local hospitality car park which has meant that parents can park up and walk the rest of the way into the village with their children.

Adam Tranter, West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said: “Delivering local schemes such as this one helps people feel safer swapping to cycling or walking some of their short journeys. This is vital if we are going to improve our air quality, health, reduce congestion and generally create nicer places for us to live.”

“The success of this scheme shows what can be done when changes are designed by the people who know the area best; the schemes become well-used with residents able to be less-reliant on cars. The benefits are seen not just for the individual, but in the community as a whole. It’s a win-win and it’s what I’m committed to delivering more of across the whole region.”

As environment and infrastructure portfolio holder for SMBC I stated, “We are committed to making Solihull a safer and greener place to be, and I am therefore delighted that a new Zebra Crossing and footpaths have now been installed in Berkswell.

“In our Solihull Cycling and Walking Strategy, we pledge to develop a network of safe cycle and walking routes, recognising the important role that this improved infrastructure has to play in boosting physical activity and wellbeing by shaping the way we move around the borough.

“The improvements delivered in Berkswell show the success of our strategy in action, as residents and visitors can now move around their local environment more safely.

“It’ll be fantastic to see how we continue to encourage the development and use of cycle and walking routes across the borough going forward.”

Andrew Burrow, Berkswell Parish Councillor said, “The use of the village as a rat-run for though traffic and lack of appropriate parking provisions, has meant for years the hundreds of school children, church members and other visitors that come to the village each week have not felt comfortable walking or cycling short local journeys. This community project is widely seen as having a major impact on reducing risk and has delivered not just a safe way for kids to get to school in the morning, but has made the village itself safer and more pleasant to walk, cycle and spend time in.”

The initial concept design was by Arup whose contract was funded by Solihull Council with financial help from the Berkswell Charities and Berkswell Society.


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