Moseley is the latest place in Birmingham to have social distancing measures installed. I cycled to have a look. I’ve previously written about social distancing measures in Kings Heath. The Kings Heath measures are marginally better than what was there before, but it is a first step.
At first glance the Moseley measures are more substantial than the Kings Heath measures. First up, I saw a barrier by the Co-op and the shops near by. I think this is a good place to have a widened path as queues outside the Co-op or Sainsbury’s could be substantial in busy times, making social distancing almost impossible prior to these measures. There is a single yellow line by the Co-op and so this barrier removes some parking at certain times, which is a positive. The barrier has taken some road space away from cars, which is a definite positive. Reallocation of road space away from drivers is key to making our High Streets more people focused.
On the opposite side of the road, by the 50 bus opposite Cafephilia the bus stop has had path widening. I think the bus stop is still in use. What this path widening onto where the bus stop road marking does, is prevent cars from illegally parking there and allows people to socially distance when waiting for the 50 bus.
The Best Example so far
There are barriers outside of Cafephilia and there double yellow lines outside here so these barriers could prevent illegal parking. Most excitedly for me, what the widened path allows, is the café to have plenty of space for tables outside of its doors. I sat outside and enjoyed a Green Tea with Avocado on Toast (the most Moseley thing ever) and watched the world go by from a table outside. It was a nice day so sitting outside was nicer than being inside. Having paths that local businesses can use for their customers can brighten up High Streets and make them more desirable as destinations. Perhaps local businesses could benefit from Parklets, which are path extensions that allow local businesses to make use of the space previously given to car parking.
Watching the world go by
We have made the mistake of having High Streets that are designed for car drivers to park up, buy a few things, then get away quickly, especially if they park up on the High Street itself. High Street Parking is usually limited to half an hour. We want people to stick around for hours, to shop and then visit a café or a pub. As I enjoyed my Avocado on Toast I watched the carnage as car drivers shouted at each other, cut each other up and had many near misses. Driving through High Streets has a high risk of collisions. The air pollution and the noise pollution of the angry car drivers, arguing amongst themselves make the atmosphere less desirable to be around.
Once I had finished eating the delicious, and of course expensive Avocado on Toast I thought that my time in Moseley had come to an end. I unlocked my bike and started to cycle out of the Village towards Kings Heath. As I passed St Mary’s Row I looked to my left and to my surprise saw some more social distancing measures. I indicated left on my bike and went and had a closer look. To my delight I discovered that some car parking spaces had been taken away for a wider path. Even better was that I found a place called Folk like these, which is a creative café space. In the longer term, the widened path that is currently used for social distancing would be perfect for a Parklet.
The social distancing measures in Moseley Village are a significant step up to the ones on Kings Heath High Street. What is more exciting is the potential to upgrade the widened paths to other things like Parklets or even a segregated cycle path. If there is anywhere in Birmingham that would be receptive to a pedestrianised high street it would be Moseley. I think that there will be local support for the existing measures. Once support has been established we can argue that these measures must be expanded upon, making Moseley Village friendly for people.