This weeks stuff and nonsense
Welcome to the round-up of events that doesn’t pull punches!
It’s been another busy week for Cyclesheffield with some crucial meetings to attend.
Tuesday was the Cycle Forum, with the issues of the Cycle Hub (or lack of it), the proposed raise in speed limits on Penistone Rd, the non-crossing of Upper Hanover Way, and the Beeley Woods cycletrack (sadly missing its top layer) on the agenda.
Excuses were offered for the lack of a Cycle hub, none of them particularly credible. Network Rail claims that a “major power upgrade” is needed to the station before they could store a few bikes in the disused Parcel force offices. How about sticking a few solar panels on the roof? Meanwhile, Leeds has cracked on with its CyclePoint due to open in August. It seems that once again the Death Star has stolen the march on the jolly Old Republic (SF fans will know what I mean) .
Moving on, the long-running saga of the Upper Hanover Way crossing is no closer to resolution. Sadly, when the University’s new Travel Planner attended the Cycle Forum he was patronised and insulted to the extent that he doesn’t feel like going again. So although the Uni has a substantial pot of money that it could contribute to a partnership solution, the feeling is that there are more worthwhile ways they could spend the money (like on a Transport Hub for example) Cyclesheffield is rather tired of people playing the “it’s your fault” game, it just wants the problem sorted.
We moved on to the Speed Limits Review, which has sensibly proposed that some speed limits be cut, and rather stupidly proposed that others (Penistone Rd & Bochum Parkway) be raised. It couldn’t possibly be the case that this is for political (i.e. gaining a few votes when the council has no overall control) reasons could it? Let me treat you to a few choice quotes from the council report:-
“7.0 EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
It is considered that all classes of road user will benefit from the proposed measures. Therefore the project should be of universal positive benefit to all, regardless or age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or disability”
Is that so? Well it won’t be of benefit to me, and it won’t be of benefit to the first cyclist mown down on Bochum Parkway either. What about my equal opportunities?
Even more interesting, the report for Penistone Rd, available on the council website says that there is no segregated cycle lane on this route. We mention this even though some folks might say it undermines our case, because there is one – did these people even bother to go and look before they wrote their report? The cycle route in question is of questionable quality – it starts off pretty good as you head out of town and peters out further along, in my opinion – and many cyclists prefer not to use it, as is their prerogative – which is why we need to keep speeds down on the road, especially since the time advantage for motorists is only around 13 seconds. We think a proper cost-benefit analysis is needed for these proposals – rumour has it will cost 250k to raise the speed limit on Penistone Rd, where’s that coming from?
Meanwhile out in Beeley Woods, sadly the Northern Assembly (it gets more like Star Wars all the time, doesn’t it?) has spent the £65k needed to surface the path, which means that if we get another flood the 100k already spent will be washed away. Were these Assemblies really such a good idea? If anyone’s got a spare £65k please get in touch.
Wednesday night, we had the first meeting of the new committee, elected at the AGM. Here are the problems we need to sort out:-
The membership database is a mess.
Our image and public profile are inconsistent.
Financial controls are non-existent.
We are not very good at keeping touch with the membership (apart from the 69 good souls on the mailing list) and therefore the good work we do often goes un-noticed. (which is why we set up this e-newsletter – tell your friends)
The committee intends to set to work to right these wrongs, with all the zeal of a con-dem coalition.
Thursday saw us down at the “Sheffield on the move” forum, and as we crossed the ring road it was plain that Sheffield had actually ground to a halt and was not on the move at all.
Issues on the agenda went as follows:-
Abbeydale Rd. One of the forum members, Charlie Khan, has got a real bee in his bonnet about Abbeydale, and who can blame him? Despite being trumpeted as a “quality transport corridor” when it was re-modelled in the early noughties, in reality it is now a Very Poor Quality transport corridor. Issues that were highlighted were the illegal right-turners around Bedale and Empire Rds and endemic pavement parking. At least cyclists have the option of Little London Rd as an alternative route, although that’s not so much use if your destination is actually on Abbeydale Rd. Anyway, expect some minor improvements soon.
Bus Quality Contracts. I hadn’t quite realised how far advanced these were. A tranche of initial consultations is nearly over, and in early September the ITA has to decide whether to proceed to a further stage of formal consultations. Now in case you think this will lead to a return to the Golden Age of bus travel in South Yorkshire – it won’t. Subsidised bus travel isn’t on the agenda , although it will pave the way integrated smart ticketing.The new arrangements will be more like the franchising arrangements on the railway and CycleSheffield needs to get its act together and start lobbying for carriage of cycles on appropriate services – perhaps not every bus service in the city, but there are longer distance services where cycle carriage would definitely be a benefit. Having said that services that cross the borders into Derbyshire & other counties are excluded from the franchise arrangements.
So far the whole arrangement is been fairly typical of the way the PTE/ITA do things - there is no suggestion of “ask the public what they want and then see if we can deliver it” its “tell the public what we intend to do and see if they like it” Democracy in action!
“Changes” to bus services from this weekend were also mentioned (they couldn’t call them cuts could they?) Details for First here. Stagecoach link didn’t work. Expect more cyclists (and more cars) when people realise their local service has disappeared. We’d prefer to get people out of their cars but beggars can’t be choosers can they?
Moving on, we had an update on 20′s plenty. Ian Auckland confirmed his commitment to the 20mph agenda, along with the proviso that he was giving the final decision to the Community Assemblies. 2osplenty for sheffield made the point that when members had gone along to CA meetings and asked about it, CA officers claimed not to have heard of it. The response was that the CA’s would be getting information packs, and that a pot of money was to be set up to allow CA’s to go forward with implementation. This is welcome news and we look forward to it actually happening.
Under AOB we raised the points about Penistone Rd and Bochum Parkway, mentioned above. The other bit of good news was that plans for a rail service between Stocksbridge and Sheffield Victoria are coming along -we’ve heard this before but it’s bound to happen one day. Lets hope Stagecoach Supertram don’t get hold of the route and ban bikes from it.
Lastly, the absence of the organisations who are paid to promote cycling in Sheffield at either of these forums was noted. We will be writing to the Council and proposing that organisations who receive funding and fail to attend these events should have their funding withdrawn, Sustainable transport now supports a healthy economy in Sheffield and we are fed up with being the unpaid ambassadors for cycling while others cream off the profits and give nothing back in return.
That’s all for now – see you next time there’s anything scurillous to report!