Paddle Power: businessman kayaks to work during tunnel closures

By on 30/07/2014 in News

With Birmingham's tunnels closed for essential refurbishment, commuters to the city centre are looking to alternative means of transport to get around.

Mike Bandar, who runs a dating website from Innovation Birmingham Campus, on Faraday Wharf, has discovered his own alternative mode of transport for coming to work – his kayak!

The local entrepreneur began kayaking to work from his home in the Jewellery Quarter during the Birmingham tunnel closures last summer and has taken it up again as a result of the second and final stage of the tunnels refurbishment.

By using his kayak, Mike cuts 10 minutes off the time that it took him to drive to work and finds that travelling on the canal is about five minutes quicker than walking.

“It's not just about saving time,” Mike explained. “Being caught up in traffic can be frustrating but there are so many other options for travelling around the city that mean you can avoid it.”

Talking about his journey on Birmingham's canals, Mike said: “I quickly realised that my time on the canal was the only time in the day I wasn’t in front of a screen or dashing between meetings. I now cherish my commutes as a bit of ‘me time’ providing me with the luxury to reflect on the day or simply take in the charming sights along the canal. It’s also a great way to incorporate a bit of fitness into my routine.”

While he admits that he is a “fair weather kayaker” and that he doesn't kayak in the winter when the darker evenings draw in, Mike explained that he had once kayaked through a thunderstorm.

“I watched a storm brewing out of the window and knowing I had to kayak home I decided to make a break for it leaving the office slightly earlier. As soon as I had hit the water the skies opened into a full scale thunderstorm. Soaked through, I continued home as the atmosphere grew increasingly moody. I must say it was one of my best trips yet,” he said describing the experience.

Amey, the company delivering the tunnels refurbishment project in partnership with Birmingham City Council, is encouraging motorists to use alternative transport to travel around the city centre while the essential works are carried out, with public transport, walking and cycling all viable options. The tunnels will be fully closed until 6am on Monday 1st September.

For more information about the Birmingham tunnel closures, visit

Photographs of Mike using his kayak on the canal can be downloaded from the Birminghamnewsroom Flickr feed here.


Notes to Editors

  • The second phase of the tunnels works will complete the upgrade to the tunnels by renewing the ventilation system, installing new security and communications systems, replacing electrical systems and refurbishing pumping stations and plant rooms.
  • In 2010, Amey won the Birmingham Highways Maintenance and Management Service contract to manage and maintain the city's roads over the next 25 years. The contract will see a huge investment into the city's road network and Amey is working in partnership with Birmingham City Council to deliver the contract. The works include refurbishment and improvement of the city's roads, footways, bridges, tunnels, street lighting and traffic control systems.
  • Amey is a leading UK public and regulated services provider with over 21,000 employees.
  • Amey operates more than 320 contracts, providing an unrivalled range of services including utilities, highways, waste management, rail, justice solutions, social housing and facilities management. Services are underpinned by our leading consulting and asset management capabilities, which allow us to offer stand-alone or integrated service solutions to a range of clients.

For more information, contact Lara Thorns on 07843 368954, email

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