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.
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 The designs appear to be old and are out of date with current council transport policy and ambitions, as well as acceptable design practice.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.
- 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.
- Moving the bus gate creates a new rat run from Furnival Street to Sheaf Street. Vehicles will be able to travel along Arundel Lane through the car park onto Paternoster Row – bypassing the new bus gate location – then Pond Street, Harmer Lane to Sheaf Street. This is shorter than the correct route and will increase traffic at the bottom of Howard Street where there is a busy pedestrian crossing.
- More traffic will cross Howard Street pedestrian crossing as a result of the bus gate changes even if vehicles do not cut through the car park.
- Large vehicles will not be able to use the mini roundabout before the new bus gate so they will either need to ignore the bus gate, or reverse long distances back along Paternoster Row/Brown Street which would be hazardous for other road users.
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.