Cycling the Upper Don Valley cycle route

The Upper Don Valley cycle route goes about 15km from Penistone Road in Sheffield to Stocksbridge to the north of Sheffield.  

You can see the route on Sheffield Council’s map of green routes. I cycled the route on the 29th of October and filmed some videos of the route.

I have reviewed the Penistone Road section of the route separately.

Missing sections

There is currently no cycle route between Beeley Wood and Wharncliffe Wood which means you have to cycle along Station Lane and Oughtibridge Lane. This is not an enjoyable because of the volume of traffic and steep gradient. There is also no traffic free route between NCN 627 in Wharncliffe Wood and the off road path from Hunshelf Road in Stocksbridge so you are required to cycle about 3.5km between the two sections on the road. Sheffield City Council should be spending £1.75m on these missing sections over the next year.

What is good about the Upper Don Valley cycle route?

The Upper Don Valley route is an enjoyable leisure route for people in north Sheffield which links urban areas with woodland. When it is properly finished it should serve as a utility route between Stocksbridge and Deepcar and between Oughtibridge and north Sheffield.

What’s not good about the Upper Don Valley cycle route and what could be improved?

Aside from being unfinished the route suffers from a number of issues – some common to many cycle routes in Sheffield.

Barriers

There are a number of A-type and K-type barriers along the route. The London Cycle Design Standards (see page 73), recognised as the highest quality standards in the UK, does not recommend the use of barriers at all, because of the accessibility issues they create. They are obstructive to people less physically able to lift and squeeze their handlebars through narrow gaps. They can prevent use of paths completely for users of larger and less nimble cycles like tandems, some recumbents, various trikes often used by disabled cyclists, and cargo bikes.

 

Width of path

The shared use path through Beeley Wood is far too narrow in places and clearly could not cope with any significant numbers of people walking or cycling. Best practice standards for the width of a two-way path is 4 metres.

Signage

There is a distinct lack of signage directing you to the route from either end and informing you where you are once on the route. If you are not familiar with the route or area you have no idea where you are.

Surface of path

The paths through Beeley Wood and Wharncliffe Wood need to be properly surfaced and kept clear of leaves so they are accessible for people on all different kinds of bikes throughout the year. A cycle path through the countryside should be of the same quality as that of one in a town / city.  The off road path in Stocksbridge is gravelled which is not a good surface to attempt a hill start after navigating the barrier.

Claywheels Lane

After the four crossings taking you from one side of the Penistone Road/Claywheels Lane junction to the other there is another signalised crossing across the entrance to Sainsbury’s, a very short stretch on a shared use pavement then a brief section on the road, and then the route continues on the pavement again. This is very poorly designed and inconvenient to use, people on bikes were clearly only an afterthought here.  

Links to residential areas along the route.

The route passes urban areas (such as Worrall, Middlewood and Birley Carr) but it does not link into them. If this is going to be a popular route it needs to connect to these areas rather than just run along the outskirts. When the missing sections are completed the same will be true for Stocksbridge and Deepcar. 

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