Bicycles, bitumen and blue asphalt: supporting Birmingham’s cycling revolution

July 6, 2021

Many urban centres have had to re-establish themselves during the age of Covid-19, laying new cycle paths, updating busy junctions and starting the process of reconfiguring streetscapes for different uses.

With more and more people taking to two wheels, Birmingham City Council is just one of the many local authorities in recent years that has been keen to promote more sustainable modes of transport and build on the UK’s cycling revolution.

Since the first lockdown, the Council has been accelerating a programme to introduce and upgrade high-quality cycling infrastructure. This has included priority signal crossings at major junctions and the creation of new segregated cycle lanes, working alongside key stakeholders, local residents and city-wide organisations.

To help clearly mark out the new safe routes for cyclists, it was agreed that these should be surfaced in a distinctive and vibrant blue colour – the question was how could this best be achieved?

Tarmac was approached by the Council and proposed the use of its ULTICOLOUR solution – a specialist coloured asphalt that avoids the issues of flaking, delamination and pothole formation associated with traditional painted surfaces.

Together with a coloured pigment, the asphalt mix uses a bespoke clear bitumen provided by Shell known as Mexphalte C. The bitumen produces a very workable material which is not only easy to lay, but is also durable meaning it will deliver lasting performance for years to come.

Tarmac’s national technical director Brian Kent was invited to discuss the company’s involvement in the project on an episode of the popular Engineering Matters podcast earlier this year, alongside guests including Sustrans’ Martin Philpot and Cllr. Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for transport and environment.

To find out more about Birmingham’s long-term plans for safe cycling and the asphalt being used to make it all possible, click here to listen to the podcast in full, produced in association with Shell Bitumen.

To find out find more about ULTICOLOUR and Tarmac’s range of vibrant coloured asphalts that bring outdoor spaces to life, follow this link.