Is Birmingham a 20-minute city?

Is Birmingham a 20-minute city?

Is Birmingham a 20-minute city?

For March we are travelling to Great Britain’s answer to Venice aka Venice of the North aka the cities of a thousand trades aka Britain’s second largest city, it is of course… Birmingham.

To begin the series we asked, “What is a 20-minute city?”, essentially, all your needs should be met within a 20-minute journey from your home either by public transport or walking, this includes work, shopping, health, and recreation. For a more detailed explanation click here.

About the Project
Each month we will focus on a different city and create 5 accessibility maps. To supermarkets, hospitals and GPs, primary schools, secondary schools, and public transport stops.

All the cities begin with a foundation of a detailed road and footpath network, for cities in Great Britain we used OS Highways. On top of this, Basemap layered the public transport network, for consistency, public transport data will all be taken from Q4 2020, allowing for any drastic changes to happen in 2021 without skewing the comparison results.
For the origins, Basemap created a grid of points based on the city boundary and then found the Points of Interest (POI) within this boundary for each destination type. This means that the accessibility to these destination points could reach beyond the city boundary but for the scope of this series we are specifically looking at the accessibility within the city limits. Due to the different countries within this project, the Points of Interest were sourced from various places and will be referenced for each individual city.

The Birmingham results are in…

First impression of the Birmingham results, we can see that Birmingham is a very promising fit for the 20-min city concept. Let’s take a closer look at the results and dissect the data presented.

A whopping 97.74% of Birmingham’s residents can easily access a hospital or GP within 20 mins of travel (as seen by the light blue colouring). There are pockets of residents that may have to travel longer than 10 minutes to get to one of the 452 hospitals or GPs and this is shown in the darker blue shade. To the north of the city there are a few gaps in accessibility, in part due to the large green area – we wouldn’t want to ruin that lovely green space with a hospital, now, would we?


Birmingham seemingly has great access to supermarkets and convenience stores. This is evidenced with a 97.96% of all residents being able to get access to the 1272 destination points. Again, like with the hospitals and GPs maps, there are a small percentage of residents who have to travel longer than 10 minutes as seen in the darker shade of green on the maps, and the same gap in accessibility to the north.

The school maps were specifically calculated with the students’ ages in mind, only the accessibility for children between the ages of primary school children and those of secondary school ages were included in the parameters of the calculation.
When we ran the calculations for those aged between 6-10 (Primary school ranges), it was observed

98.14% of children were able to reach one of the 295 primary schools within 20 minutes of travelling on public transport.

There is a slight dip in accessibility to secondary schools. Only 95.09% of secondary school aged pupils (11-16) can access one of the 139 secondary school sites in the

Birmingham area. 95% is still a great rate of accessibility but not quite up to the typical Birmingham standard.

Birmingham has a significant amount of transport stops (4292) that are accessible within 400 metres walking (rather than 20 mins of transport) resulting in 67.53% accessibility for Birmingham residents. Unlike last month‘s 20-minute blog city Belfast, there is a 6.4% increase in the population who are able to reach a transport link within 400 metres of their residential dwelling.


So… is Birmingham a 20-minute city?

With the POI parameters of food, medicine, schooling and transport we can see that Birmingham fits the idea of a 20-minute city in terms that majority of its residents are able to travel to the amenities they need within 20 mins (or 400 metres of public transport stops). The only areas that have a significant discrepancy in these travel times are the industrial region of Birmingham on the border of Gravely Hill (outside of the Birmingham border).

Come back next month where we’ll be heading to Cardiff.

Or, you can check out our previous cities:


Keziah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Basemap Ltd. She has almost 2 years experience in the digital realm after graduating from the University of Plymouth with a BA in Illustration and an MA in Publishing.