Station exi(s)ts for cyclists and taxi's

It's been over ten days since the switchover of concourses at New Street Station and work continues on the new concourse with subtle changes being made daily through the opening of retail units and the addition of more ticket machines and cashpoints.

The new look station has been well received by many but not all however with both cyclists and taxi drivers complaining at their demotion with space for only 11 cabs on Navigation Street and cycle racks being hidden in a tunnel linking Stephenson Street to the Bullring.  Taxi drivers are unhappy at the reduction in spaces to only 11 spaces on Navigation Street and the use of a 'holding pen' for taxis on Hill Street costing upto 60p a time until spaces become available at the taxi rank.

A spokesman for Network Rail said that they had held many meetings with cab driver representatives to plan the changes. He said that an overspill car park had been provided on Hill Street.
“We are only part way through the development and are working in a constrained space. When the development is finished the taxis will be moved back.
“We are half way through, with major construction work ongoing until final completion in 2015.
‘‘As a result there are some temporary measures in place for taxis which we consulted on and agreed with the city taxi associations and Birmingham City Council, prior to the switchover on 28 April.

Cyclists meanwhile have complained at the 'disgrace' of being hidden down an alleyway, the Moor Street link, with only 23 spaces for 46 bikes,  Their ire was further increased when hoax notices were attached to bikes asking they be removed for portraying the new station in a bad light.

A sign was spotted attached to a “muddy and old” machine asking the owner to take it away within 48 hours as “its condition is not an image we want our station to portray”.
The note, on Network Rail headed paper, continued: “When you see fit to get yourself a bicycle in reasonable condition we will gladly welcome you back.”
But the company insisted the message was a hoax.
A spokesman said: “Cyclists with bicycles of all shapes and sizes are welcome to use the new temporary cycle storage facilities at New Street station.”

The cycling provision even irked Labour peer Lord Hunt of Kings Heath who branded the provisions a disgrace.  The cycle racks are temporary as part of the station's redevelopment and the finished station will see 160 spaces with improved lighting, security and accessibility though Network Rail could not confirm their exact location.

The furore over the cycling provision comes embarrassingly after the launch of Birmingham City Council's 20 year cycling plan and application for government funding to support this plan,  The plan would see investment in cycling infrastructure,, and in enabling culture change so the temporary racks at New Street have drawn criticism in showing the car is still king around the station despite this cycling ambition.  

While there are genuine concerns I think these fail to recognise the technical difficulties for Network Rail in redeveloping a live station and maintaining public access at the half way point of the overall station redevelopment.  The improvements to the city through permeability and the long term ambitions of the station should address the concerns on cycling and while not ideal we should not be quick to pour judgement or scorn on temporary measures to enable to redevelopment to continue and seek to improve access and facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and taxi drivers.

The new airy and light interior has also not pleased everyone with a Birmingham Mail review,, of the new Costa Coffee in the waiting area also noting the cold feel of the station and the paved floor prone to marking.

The cold, low energy interior lighting inside such a uniformly grey / off-white, tunnelled environment isn’t conducive to good vision.
And the paved floor will surely get dirty and stained very quickly – they reminded me of the shades of the badly tarnished ICC exterior which suggest a wrong choice of materials.

The station is airy and perhaps can indeed appear cold with the vast swathes in white but the vast wall separating the new concourse from the work on the old station concourse will give way in time to a new huge open area lit from the atrium above and this should help to soften the starkness.  The retail units now being opened alongside ones already open will add colour and warmth to the concourse and as I noted above with the cyclists concerns, we are looking at a work in progress that while not 100% perfect gives a glimmer of the staggering transformation the completed station will provide.

The paving has been raised by many, including the Mail journalist, as unsuitable or unsightly but as long as it is maintained and cleaned it offers an exciting outside inside feel to the station.  The new paving blurs the boundaries of the station and the outside flowing both inside the concourse and on the external routes around the station.  This flow inside and outside highlights the new stations permeability.  Rather than being a block around which the city has had to navigate previously the paving reinforces the part the station now plays as a thoroughfare and junction at the heart of the city.

Photos showing the continuing erection of steelwork for the new John Lewis store and the the station surrounds with work ongoing are shown below.

6 May 2013

10 May 2013

11 May 2013

Work on the walkway fronting the old station to link to the new Moor Street link.

Stephenson Street

Moor Street Link

John Lewis / Construction progress mashup


Anonymous said…
Council highways must install a green arrow signal for buses and taxis turning right across two busy lanes of Smallbrook Queensway slap bang outside of the Holiday Inn before John Lewis opens. The taxi congestion adds to the bus congestion brought about by the city centre bus stop changes last summer. Simple, inexpensive little changes can have much positive effect.
Anonymous said…
16th May, Delice de France now open, and Upper Crust nearing completion even though the hoardings are still up. Still no visible signs of life at the Pasty Shop as yet, besides the screens around at their unit. The old concourse is now starting to look extremely depressing as Camden have now permenantly closed their unit, and outside not a single reflective piece of cladding has gone onto the new entrance for almost two months!

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