All posts by Dexter Johnstone

Join our big ride for Space for Cycling: Saturday April 22nd!

Join our big family-friendly bike ride to say roads in Sheffield need to be made people-friendly and include safe space for cycling.

Wear something red and make some noise – bring bells, whistles and horns.

Meet at Devonshire Green from 10.30am, ready to start at 11am. The ride will take around an hour.

There will be marshals within the riders and at key junctions. For your safety and so everyone has a good time, please follow their instructions.

See you on the day and have a great ride.

What are we calling for?

We want cycling to be possible as normal everyday transport for anyone in Sheffield. This will need Sheffield Council to:

Plan

Plan a full network of cycle-friendly routes that allow people of all ages and abilities to cycle anywhere for any purpose

Invest

Actively seek the funding to implement the network and invest a minimum of 5-10% of the local transport budget in cycling

Build

Build the network using the most up-to-date high quality design standards

What’s Space for Cycling?

Find out more

Knowledge Gateway response

Sheffield Council is currently consulting on the Knowledge Gateway redevelopment scheme. The redevelopment is in the city centre, running along Fitzalan Square, Flat Street, Pond Street, Paternoster Row and Brown Street.  The consultation finishes on the 28th of February.

If you would like to respond please email cityregeneration@sheffield.gov.uk and yunus.ahmed@sheffield.gov.uk.

Update 17/04/17

Sheffield Council have released the Traffic Regulation Orders for the scheme now which you can see here, here and here.  As far as we can see there has only been one change since the initial consultation. The bus gate by Howard Street is now not being moved which means that the scheme does not create a new rat run through the car park.

CycleSheffield’s response to the Knowledge Gateway scheme

Improving public space for people is to be encouraged but in its present form the Knowledge Gateway scheme creates serious problems due to a lack of transport planning. There will continue to be heavy bus and taxi traffic in the area, it gives less priority to pedestrians crossing, and undermines the safety and convenience of people cycling.

This is already a well-used and signed route for people on bikes and the scheme needs to reflect this. Sheffield also has ambitious targets for cycling and so any new scheme needs to anticipate significantly increased cycle traffic and include high quality provision to both enable and accommodate it. To expand cycling beyond current cyclists it is vital to provide convenient routes for people who do not wish to mix with heavy traffic.

However, this is missing from the current designs. The designs appear to be old and are out of date with current council transport policy and ambitions, as well as acceptable design practice. If they are implemented they would degrade the current cycle route.

Specific points:

  • A ‘dooring’ hazard would be created which does not currently exist for people using red painted cycle lanes alongside on-road parking along Brown Street and Paternoster Row. There will be an unhelpful expectation from some drivers that people on bikes should only be using marked lanes, despite this being unsafe.  On the design below a dooring hazard exists where there are green, blue and purple boxes (indicating parked vehicles).

  • Painted cycle lanes interrupted by bus stops are especially inadequate when the carriageway width is reduced to a bi-directional single centre lane. A parked bus will obstruct sight lines and it becomes hazardous to overtake as there may be vehicles approaching in the opposite direction. Painted cycle lanes in this two-way layout encourage drivers to assume against cycles approaching in the centre of the road when going around stopped buses. See image below:

  • Loading is permitted in the cycle lanes along most of Brown Street and Paternoster rendering these lanes useless. People on bikes will have to pull out into the centre of the road to pass loading vehicles.
  • Servicing/loading for the Showroom café and cinema will take place on-street, where road is narrowed, and with a bus stop opposite. This creates further hazards for cyclists and could also result in the road being entirely blocked.
  • Pond Hill is not wide enough to include all of: a traffic lane, a contraflow cycle lane and 2 taxi ranks (one on either side of the road). The Knowledge Gateway scheme does not include the improvements which should have been delivered as part of the Digital Campus development (see image below).

  • The route from Haymarket to Flat Street would be made even less appealing for people on bikes given the numbers of buses, as the straight-on route will be removed. A ‘dog leg’ manoeuvre will be required on Commercial Street.
  • Flat Street has been narrowed but retains bus stops on either side of the road. If both bus stops are in use the highway is effectively reduced to one lane. This design is hazardous for people on bikes but creates problems for all road users.

  • The removal of three signalised pedestrian crossings without a reduction of traffic levels makes using these crossings difficult and potentially dangerous for pedestrians, particularly visually impaired people.
  • Taxis will wait on footway along Paternoster Row when collecting and dropping off customers for the train station if no measures are included in this scheme to prevent this.

How to improve scheme:

  • Segregated cycle lanes are required given the volume of traffic, especially buses. These would also resolve the issues with cycling past parked cars, buses and loading vehicles by providing separate, safe space for cycling. These would need to run north-south through the scheme but also link to the train station.

If a segregated cycle route cannot be provided then:

  • no parking and no loading restrictions are required for the painted cycle lanes.
  • The bus stops need to be relocated or bus stop bypasses installed.

What can you do?

Please email please email cityregeneration@sheffield.gov.uk and yunus.ahmed@sheffield.gov.uk with your response by 28 February 2017, and you may want to include the points above.

Free parking in a busy cycle lane

Clarkehouse Road is a popular route for cycling into Sheffield and it has a painted cycle lane which should provide at least a small amount of clear space. Unfortunately the council allows this cycle lane to be used as free car parking except at peak times, and even then it is still abused making it largely useless.

There is no need to use this road space for parking. There is a multi-story car park with 702 spaces next to the Royal Hallamshire hospital approximately 100 metres from Clarkehouse Road and there is a Q-Park with 560 spaces next to the University of Sheffield approximately 300 metres from Clarkehouse Road.


The restricted parking times are routinely abused

People park up and sit in their vehicles from 8am onwards blocking the cycle lane. At 9.30am this parking becomes legitimate and most drivers will leave their vehicles parked there until 4.30pm.

This makes it even more difficult and potentially dangerous to cycle along a very busy road.

CycleSheffield and Sustrans have held events to monitor this situation. Whilst this deters the offenders on the day it only highlights the problem and doesn’t solve it.

What is the solution?

Due to the volume of motor traffic the long term solution is to provide a segregated cycleway along Clarkehouse Road.

In the short term the council could immediately remove the free parking along the road, meaning there was no benefit to parking on the road instead of using the multi storey car parks. Alternatively they could remove the on-road parking entirely. Or at least they could keep the parking restriction on the cycle lane in force until 10am. This would increase the time that people would need to remain in their vehicles and reduce the appeal of doing so.

Report the issue to the council

If you see this problem please report Sheffield Council parking services via email parkingservices@sheffield.gov.uk (attach a photo if possible, clearly showing the registration number of offending vehicles) or by phone 0114 2736255.  

It would be good to raise the problem with your councillors as well. https://www.writetothem.com/ is the easiest way of doing this.

The more often the issue is raised with council officers and councillors the more likely it that they will take action to resolve the issue.

We have contacted Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Councillor George George Lindars-Hammond and Tom Finnegan-Smith who are responsible for transport in Sheffield, as well as the three councillors whose ward Clarkehouse Road is in to raise this issue.

Update 08/04/17

We’ve set up a petition calling for the council to end the abuse of the cycle lane.  Please sign and share!

Grey to Greenwash: how Sheffield Council missed an open goal for active travel

Grey to Green is a regeneration project in the centre of Sheffield, with Phase 1 completed in 2016.

Whilst it has created a visually attractive space, the scheme has still prioritised motor traffic over people walking or cycling, and failed to create any viable cycleway in a planned “priority cycle route”.

This is painfully at odds with the wonderful intended concept:

“Grey to Green… a linear green route for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport… giving streets back to people that were once dominated by the car”

Design image for Grey to Green

What is the problem?

We are not criticising the greening of the urban environment, natural planting or sustainable drainage – these are welcome, innovative achievements, which have been much celebrated, and we need more of this in our city. But this should not and need not be at the expense of walking and cycling provision, which have both been badly overlooked or misunderstood here.

Why does it matter?

The council has an ambitious target for cycling reaching 10% of all journeys by 2025 (currently this stands at 0.8%). This will require large numbers of people starting to cycle who currently don’t, so any new transport or road development needs to make cycle journeys easier through high quality cycle provision. There is no other way the council will hit their target.

Sheffield City Council have said “West Bar is proposed to be one of a number of ‘principal’ cycle routes in the city centre”. This redevelopment was the ideal opportunity to create this route. Instead, it has been left with no useful provision for people who would like to cycle, and it will be far more expensive and difficult to introduce later.

The council knew the designs were not suitable for cycling

Can you spot the person cycling? Is this what “giving streets back to people” looks like?

People can now either cycle on the road or on the shared use pavement. The Sheffield City Council development officer for this scheme, said:

“Cyclists have a high awareness of pedestrians in a shared space, tending to ride around them or give way …  These interactions reduce the speed of cyclists, thus minimising risk of incidents. However, we also know that for many confident / commuter cyclists who will want to get from A – B in the most direct and convenient way possible, this off road route will not be attractive.”

This shows the scheme was designed assuming two different, but imagined, types of people cycling – those wanting “to get from A to B”, and anyone else. It supposes people who want to make their journey by bike ‘directly and conveniently’ don’t mind being squeezed into road space designed for motor traffic.

It assumes people who would prefer not to mix with traffic (almost anyone) are happy going slowly, taking a longer indirect route, stopping frequently for crossings, and having to dodge pedestrians. This conflict with pedestrians is seen as desirable to slow down people cycling.

And despite the blank-canvas opportunity and large width of the redevelopment, no better solution was offered.

If Sheffield Council want more people to cycle then they need to provide routes which feel safe and are convenient, not one or the other.

Cycle paths suited for all kinds of cycling are standard in the Netherlands

Why is this bad for people on bikes?

There is no Space for Cycling. The volume of motor traffic on the road, particularly at peak times, means most people won’t feel comfortable cycling on the road.

West Bar is a major bus route into the city, so the “most direct and convenient” way to cycle is with heavy vehicles. This is not how to encourage people to start cycling.

Protected cycleways should have been included to provide comfortable, inclusive Space for Cycling which anyone can use.

Shared-use pavement isn’t good for people walking or people cycling

People on bikes do not want to share space with pedestrians and people walking do not want to share space with people on bikes, especially in the busy city centre. It creates unnecessary conflict, especially since the shared status of this path is almost totally unmarked. This is frustrating for everyone and can be hazardous, especially for visually impaired people. The 3.5m shared use pavement is only slightly wider than the minimum recommended by UK guidance.

It is inconvenient, hazardous or impossible to cycle to or from the shared path

The connections to the carriageway at each end of the shared use path are poor, particularly by West Bar roundabout.

The shared-use path and side roads/site entrances on West Bar are not linked. How do you access the shared use path from the side roads on the other side of West Bar? Or get to the side roads from the shared use paths (see image below)? Even the ‘less confident’ cyclist who is expected to use the shared use path will still need to use the road. Cycle movements have not been properly considered in this design.

And why is it bad for pedestrians?

Lack of continuous footway

Main roads, including the pavement, should have priority over side roads or site entrances. The main street will be carrying the larger flow of traffic and so should get priority irrespective of the kind of traffic. Grey to Green phase 1 has perpetuated old-fashioned street design where pedestrians need to stop, look and cross for every minor side street or entrance.

Road design should promote active travel by giving people walking along the footway priority over turning traffic, as in this example on West Street in Sheffield.

Inconvenient crossing still gives motor traffic priority

A two-stage, staggered crossing, surrounded by guard railings (a tell-tale sign of an environment designed for motor traffic not for people) has been retained. Compared to a direct, single-stage crossing, this is not a good pedestrian facility, and is an even worse shared cycle crossing. It serves only to minimise delays to vehicle traffic at the expense of  the convenience of people crossing, who have to wait and make two separate crossings to get across one road. This becoming a ‘toucan’ shared cycle crossing causes extra conflict with pedestrians due to the narrow space to pass and turn within the railings.

Pavement parking

The new wide pavements are regularly obstructed by parked vehicles. Neither the council nor the police, who are stationed immediately next to this scheme, have yet shown an interest in enforcing against this misuse of pedestrian space.

Creation of new rat run for motor traffic

The scheme has introduced a new right turn from Snig Hill onto Bridge Street – enabling a new rat run from Snig Hill to the Inner Ring Road. This was not possible with the previous road layout.

Cycle design standards would help prevent these issues

These mistakes have been made because Sheffield City Council have no cycle design standards. This means new schemes and developments can be approved with poor provision for cycling (or none at all).

Council agencies and private developers get no guidance on how to provide for cycling when they design schemes. As they have not made any standard mandatory, the council doesn’t challenge third-party developers when their proposals are inadequate.

We want Sheffield Council to adopt the London Cycle Design Standards, so all future developments are of a useful standard and contribute to their goal of enabling more active travel. To continue without any standards means Sheffield will continue to waste money on poor cycle design, and makes it harder to develop good provision in the future.

It needs to be made easier, safer, more pleasant and more convenient to walk and cycle in Sheffield. This scheme still puts the convenience of driving above walking and cycling. You can drive all the way along Grey to Green (Phase 1) and have priority all the way. You do not have this priority if you’re walking or cycling on, to, or from the shared path.

What it should have been like

The space for cycling in Grey to Green should look like this, offering separate, continuous routes for motor traffic, people on bikes and pedestrians.

Future phases will need to improve

In press releases Grey to Green sounds fantastic, and the intent of the scheme is ideal. But it’s precisely because the vision for Grey to Green, of “giving streets back to people” is so welcome that it is deeply disappointing for the reality to fall far short of this.

There are three more possible phases for Grey to Green. We hope that the designers and the council will take note of the problems with this first phase, and we look forward to the remaining sections delivering far more towards the goal of building a greener city genuinely shaped for people.

Sheffield Council approve Tram / Cycle Safety Action Plan

Sheffield Council have now approved a Tram Cycle Safety Action Plan which CycleSheffield agreed with them in July 2016.

What is the problem?

The tram tracks are the biggest cause of accidents and injuries to people on bikes in Sheffield and they also deter people from making journeys by bike

Over 380 crashes reported

CycleSheffield has received over 380 accident reports since January 2015 which we have mapped. Gathering this data was vital in demonstrating the scale of the problem and persuading the council that they needed to act.

We have shared the data with Sheffield City Council and identified the worst locations for accidents. The top 5 worst locations are:

  1. Langsett Road at Primrose Hill tram stop.
  2. Holme Lane / Loxley New Road / Ball Road junction.
  3. White Lane at White Lane tram stop.
  4. Glossop Road at junction with Upper Hanover St.
  5. Hillsborough Corner.

What is the council planning to do?

Firstly, to implement:

“a series of warning signs … in the current financial year and preferably before the onset of winter [2016], at the top 20 locations now identified.”

This is only the first step and as the report accepts “warning signs will not in themselves resolve the problems created by the infrastructure.”

The council has then committed to:

  • By March 2017: design solutions at the top five worst accident sites
  • By June 2017: design solutions for the remaining top 20 sites.
  • Agree a schedule of work for these solutions to be implemented in financial years 2017/18 and 2018/19
  • By September 2017: Complete implementation of the top 5 sites
  • Develop in 2016/17 and pilot 2017/18 a cyclist/ tram-track solution for each type of tram/ carriageway interface (e.g. tram stops, tram track leaving road to left, to right etc). Develop a plan for the deployment of these solutions and an ongoing programme of works and ensure that these solutions are incorporated in all future Supertram infrastructure schemes.
  • During financial years 2017/ 18 and 2018/ 19 implement solutions for the top 20 accident sites.

Will this solve the problem?

If these solutions are designed to best practice standards and delivered on time then they will make a big and very welcome improvement.  We will work as closely as possible to contribute to, and review, the solution designs.

We are concerned that the council will not get further than the signage, so CycleSheffield will:

  • request updates on their progress on the action points
  • encourage  them to prioritise the design of convenient alternative routes rather than piecemeal improvements along the roads with tracks
  • push them to make money available and bid for new funding to make larger infrastructure improvements

We are hopeful since this report and investment has the backing of cabinet member Cllr Iqbal:

Problems caused by barriers on cycle paths

Sheffield Council install access barriers on some cycle paths. The intention is usually to prevent motorised vehicles accessing the path.

Older barriers tend to be ‘chicane’ style or ‘A’ frames, while newer ones are ‘K’ frame style (below).

Showing how easy it is, from the website of manufacturers of K-barriers (Sheffield City Council’s preferred barrier supplier).

What’s the problem?

They’re inconvenient for everyone

Even if you are physically able to get through them, any kind of barrier is a cause of inconvenience, making a walking or cycling journey less convenient and appealing. They are especially awkward and can be frustrating for people with pushchairs, shopping trolleys, crutches, walking sticks/frames, or holding children’s hands. This discriminates against more vulnerable people and isn’t what Sheffield needs when we are aiming to increase the amount of physical activity people do daily.

They’re impassable for some people

Narrow barriers are obviously obstructive to people cycling who are less physically able to lift and squeeze their handlebars through the gap.

Both chicane-type and K-type barriers 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. They also create access issues for wheelchair users, mobility scooter users and people with prams and pushchairs.


They don’t work

The barriers are not effective at preventing motorbikes and mopeds from accessing cycle paths. The new barriers on the Thoresby Road path (fitted in 2016) can be easily bypassed (also see photo at the top, showing the only way to get a cargo bike, which was funded by SCC, past the barrier) and so appear to have been a token gesture rather than a serious attempt to prevent motor vehicles from accessing the path.

They’re a waste of money

New barriers cost around £5000. Given the council’s limited budget for cycling improvements we would much rather this money was spent on better provision to allow more people to cycle rather than making cycle paths less accessible.

They may be illegal

There hasn’t yet been a test case to set a clear legal precedent, but it is possible barriers like these could be breaking the Equality Act 2010.

Alternatives

A better design of barrier?

We know of no design in the world which could do the job. Since motorcycles and various types of pedal cycles have similar dimensions, motorcycles cannot be physically prevented without also preventing legitimate cycle users (and inconveniencing everyone).

The London Cycle Design Standards (see page 73), recognised as the highest quality standards in the UK, recommends against the use of all barriers, because of the accessibility issues they create.

The latest cycle design guidance for Highways England (who are responsible for trunk routes, and cycleways associated with them) goes further and requires that barriers, specifically K type barriers as favoured by Sheffield Council, shall not be used (paragraph 2.3.8):

Bollards

Bollards with a 1.5m gap are the simplest way of preventing access by cars and other larger vehicles. They do not prevent motorbikes, mopeds etc from accessing the paths, however, it is clear that neither do barriers.

Enforcement

It is illegal to ride motorised bikes, scooters etc on cycle paths and if this is a regular problem then this should be addressed by South Yorkshire Police. There are powers available to seize vehicles, which are used in other areas.

You should report anti-social behaviour to the police on 101 or online.

Greater Manchester Police using Section 59 powers to enforce against illegal vehicle use

Campaigning for the removal of barriers

We have raised the issue with council officers, and Sheffield Council’s cycle champion Councillor Steve Wilson.

The only suggestion from the council has been that they could consider replacing chicanes with K barriers, despite the accessibility problems which these still cause.

They get knocked down…

The chicane barriers at both the underpass by Netherthorpe tram stop, and on a bridge over Mosborough, were removed this year by Sheffield council contractors. This was to improve pedestrian flow for the Tramlines festival for the former, and to allow resurfacing of the path for the latter. We asked the council not to replace them afterwards, but they did.

We have collected the locations of some known barriers on a map. Sustrans volunteers for the Trans Peninne Trail have also made a map showing the barriers along this route.

Please get in touch if you know of others we’ve missed, and share your experiences.

Finally…

Sometimes they just don’t make sense.

It appears that Sheffield City Council are so keen on the K barrier brand that they are encouraging developers to fit them to paths by default. This saves the council from paying for them later, but means they’re placed without any existence of motorbike issues… or apparently much understanding of what the barrier is even meant to do!

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. 

South Yorkshire Police response to our request to adopt a ‘close pass’ initiative

Do South Yorkshire Police intend to run a ‘close pass’ initiative to improve the safety of cyclists, similar to the one that West Midlands Police and other forces are now doing?

We  submitted the question to the Police and Crime Panel via Councillor Joe Otten. We also met the assistant Police and Crime Commissioner and discussed whether South Yorkshire Police (SYP) could adopt a ‘close pass initiative’.

If you are not familiar with the the ‘close pass’ initiative  run by  West Midlands Police you can read about it here.

West Midlands Police road policing blog has more detailed information and explanation for the adoption of this initiative.

SYP written response:

I am aware of this scheme and only a couple of weeks ago, the Assistant PCC, Sioned-Mair Richards attended a meeting with representatives of Sheffield Cycle groups as well as the city council about this.

Key roads are targeted and police cyclists ride the road. If someone drives too close to them then colleagues, including someone from the local authority waiting ahead are notified and the offending vehicle is stopped and either prosecuted or given education input. A similar scheme is run in Humberside – Operation Achilles applies the same principles except for motorbikes. The educational input is delivered by a local authority representative using an educational mat. The cost of this mat is approximately £900.

Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood has provided me with the statistics from the Safer Roads Partnership concerning collisions involving cyclists in South Yorkshire:-

CRASH CJU CJU
PEDAL CYCLE 2016 2015 2014
FATAL 1 1 1
SERIOUS 52 45 56
SLIGHT 200 258 275

Clearly one death per year is one too many, however, deaths involving cyclists in South Yorkshire are no where near the levels that they are in the West Midlands or other parts of the country.  Whilst it is clear that the scheme has been well received in the West Midlands and is a good approach to tackling a key priority, this needs to be balanced against priorities that are force specific. The main cohorts in relation to road deaths or serious injuries in South Yorkshire are centred on pedestrians and car users – drivers or passengers – where SYP have seen a continual rise over the past 2 years. That said, West Midlands Police are hosting a workshop in Birmingham on 13 January and officers from SYP are looking to attend.

In addition to this, given the challenging demand that the police service is currently facing as a result of austerity, resources are carefully deployed to target specific activity. I understand South Yorkshire Police are not aware of any specific location (s) that is prominent for pedal cyclist Road Traffic Collisions. Neither, have any officers who are trained and equipped in the use of pedal cycles brought any concerns to the attention of Chief Inspector Suttenwood.

Enforcement should probably be used as a last resort to improve road safety, the most sensible solution would be to look at addressing the root causes of the problem – one of which is the layout of the roads. By creating segregated or shared cycle/pedestrian routes, improving lighting, awareness and signage, cyclists can use the roads with the confidence that they are safe to do. Some of this is being progressed in the county already:-

Sheffield 

  • Next development at Meadowhall, segregated cycle route.
  • The new Ikea is to have cycle routes and crossings to it, as is the upcoming Charter Square improvements.
  • The Connect 2 route is a fairly recent cycle route between Halfway and Killamarsh mainly segregated from traffic.

Rotherham

  • Centenary Way and Canklow roundabout have all recently been upgraded to cater for cyclists. A cycle route has been created on the Waverley development to a Highfield Springs.

Doncaster

  • A number of crossings have been converted to Toucan crossings along with a new one on Leger Way to link the Bawtry Rd commuter route to town. Also a new cycle lane on Bennethorpe.

Barnsley

  • A cycle to work route has been built to service the large Asos factory at Grimethorpe.
  • Also a new route is being built currently from the Trans Pennine Trail at Pontefract Rd into the town centre.

Whilst naturally, all force areas will see a decline in cyclists on the roads during the winter, I understand Chief Inspector Suttenwood is discussing the prospect of delivering some educational workshops in schools for future drivers and cyclists with local LPTS during Spring 2017 following attendance at West Midland Police’s workshop.

We’re changing to free membership!

We want to get lots more people on board so that we can have a bigger impact in the campaigning we do. So from now on we will not charge a fee for membership. This will be much simpler for us to administer, easier for people to sign up to, and won’t need it to be renewed each year.

We will now term everyone who joins us supporters.

Join today!

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Penistone Road cycle route

Penistone Road has a shared use cycle path which goes from Kelham Island to the junction with Clay Wheels Lane. It is about 3.5km long. At the junction with Hillfoot Road it becomes the ‘Upper Don Valley Cycle Route’ which you can see on Sheffield Council’s map of green routes.

In 2014/15 Sheffield Council spent around £5 million on Penistone Road to improve motor traffic flow. They claimed that this money could not be spent on improving conditions for people walking or on bikes, although this was untrue.

I cycled the route on the 29th of October and recorded it.

What is good about this route?

The route is direct and flat, it is free from motor vehicles apart from a short stretch along a back street between Bamforth Street and Hillfoot Road.

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What is not good about this route and how could it be improved?

The Penistone Road cycle path has the potential to be a high quality route into Sheffield centre from the north of the city. However, there are a number of problems with it which prevent it being more widely used and undermine its value to those who do use it.

Dangerous beginnings

At the beginning of the route, crossing from the contraflow cycle lane to the shared use pavement on the slip road off Penistone Road is potentially dangerous as you do so in the face of traffic turning left from Penistone Road. 

Width of path

The shared use path along Penistone Road 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 meters.

The path is also cluttered and Sheffield Council continue to introduce unnecessary obstructions like these advert boards which further reduce the useful space.

advert

This is a misuse of public space and demonstrates the lack of consideration Sheffield Council gives to active travel.

Surface of the path

The Penistone Road path is tarmacked but of a poor quality, it is often unclear that it is a shared use path and it needs to be resurfaced.

Unsignalised crossings

This route has many unsignalised crossings where the shared use path crosses side roads. Rutland Road is the most hazardous example but there are also problems at Bamforth Street, Livesey Street, Beulah Road, Tanfield Road, Bastock Road and Herries Road South. These junctions are all signalised for motor vehicles on the road but do not provide a safe crossing phase for vulnerable users, either pedestrians or people on bikes. These crossings are inconvenient and potentially dangerous. Cycle infrastructure should be built so that it can be used safely by people aged 8 upwards and this is not the case here. This demonstrates the lack of consideration Sheffield Council gives to active travel. 

The junction with Herries Road South was supposed to be improved with a toucan crossing installed in 2014. However, Sheffield Council abandoned this due to the impact it would have on motor traffic flow.

Crossing side roads and entrances

There is inconsistency of design at the crossings of side roads and entrances on Penistone Road . Those travelling in the direction of the main road (including cycling and walking) should have priority over both side roads and entrances to premises.  Markings are erratic and sometimes it is unclear who has priority (see the picture below where it appears that the side road and cycle path give way to each other).

give-way

The lack of consistency means that all road users are unsure who should have priority and this is potentially dangerous. The path needs to be clearly marked at junctions and entrances (as in the picture below).

continuous-path

Crossing the Penistone Road junction with Clay Wheels Lane

To get from one side of this junction to the other requires using 4 separate crossings, which is time consuming, frustrating and demonstrates the lack of priority that Sheffield Council gives to active travel. Note in the video that the recording has been sped up.