Category Archives: Rides and Routes

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. 

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.

ok

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.

Cycling the Blackburn Valley cycle route

The Blackburn Valley route (BVR) goes about 6.5km from Meadowhall, in the east of Sheffield, to Chapeltown in the north.

You can see the route on Sheffield Council’s map of green routes. I rode it on Sunday 16 October 2016, and filmed some videos.

Though there are a couple of unfinished sections I still found the route ridable. Sheffield City Council is planning to spend around £1m completing a missing section between Butterthwaite Lane and Loicher Lane over the next year.

What is good about the Blackburn Valley route?

The BVR is a direct, continuous route. It is flat and is well surfaced. It is entirely free of motor traffic.

What’s not good about the Blackburn Valley route and what could be improved?

The BVR could be a great route into the east end of Sheffield from the north. However, it 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 and also some more unorthodox barriers (the technical term for which I think is ‘massive concrete blocks’), which you can see in my video. The London Cycle Design Standards (see page 73), recognised as the highest quality standard available, 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.

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.

Grange/Deep Lane crossing: The route crossing at Grange/Deep Lane could be improved. The cycle route should be raised up and given priority to slow vehicles down and make clear the presence of people cycling. Car parking around the crossing should also be removed.

grange-lane

Width of path. The path doesn’t meet best practice standards for the width of a two-way path, which should ideally be 4 meters. Most of the path is around half this, and in some places it gets even narrower and is overgrown, making it difficult to work pleasantly as shared-use with pedestrians.

Unlit. The route is unlit which I think would put some people off using it, especially in winter.

Links to residential areas along the route. The BVR passes urban areas (such as Shiregreen, Wincobank and Thorpe Hesley) but it does not link into them. If this is going to be an effective route to take people from their homes to work/shops/entertainment it needs to feed in from these areas rather than just run along the outskirts. At the moment the BVR is just a long single route, not part of a network.

Connection to Chapeltown. The BVR goes to (or from) Chapeltown but it ends (or starts) in a cul-de-sac on the edge of Chapeltown. See the blue line indicating the BVR:

bvr-1

The main attraction of the BVR is that it offers a traffic free route to Meadowhall, however, that appeal is lost if you have to use busy roads, such as Station Road, to get onto the route in the first place. Again, if this is going to be an effective route to take people from their homes to work/shops/entertainment it needs to feed in from residential areas rather than just run to the outskirts.

Connection at Meadowhall: The BVR connects well to the park and ride at Meadowhall train station, however, from there the route gets worse fast. To get to Meadowhall shopping centre a narrow, shared-use path takes you along Barrow Road to Meadowhall Road where you are required to cross busy roads a number of times with no traffic lights on the crossings. This needs major improvement.

mhall

New cycle routes planned in Sheffield

Sheffield Council are building several new routes over the next few years (the money has to be spent by 2018), funded through their Sustainable Transport Exemplar Program (STEP) budget. They have also planned a couple more which are not currently funded.

Where are these routes and are they going to be any good?

Route 1. Portobello – Trippet Lane – Barkers Pool. This would connect the new cycle route on Portobello built as part of the University of Sheffield campus master plan with Surrey Street (and so to Sheffield train station). You can see the route here.

This route should have been built in summer 2016 but has stalled because the council has ‘temporarily’ decided to route car park traffic from John Lewis along Trippet Lane to Rockingham Street. This means there will be far too much traffic for the ‘cycle street’ concept and so the route will have to be segregated (but this is not designed). This route has been removed from the STEP budget and so is unfunded.

Sheffield Council should have prioritised this route, it offers an important alternative to cycling along West Street with its tram track hazards.

Cost: ? currently unfunded and not in any budget.

Route 2. SHU Collegiate campus to Sheffield Station. You can see the route here.

The red line is the favoured route with the others being developed later. However, because of the uncertainty about the New Retail Quarter the section between Trafalgar Street and Pinstone Street can’t be designed / built yet and instead there will be a diversion along the dotted green line.

Cost: £546,590*

Route 3. Attercliffe to Darnall. You can see the route here.

The route will link the National Cycle Network at point A to B following the red / pink line with a few different option along the way.

This is a strange route, connecting two suburbs when it would make more sense when starting to build a cycle network to connect the suburbs with the city centre. It is also winding and indirect.

Cost: £995,000*

Route 4. Waverley to Handsworth. You can see the route here.

The route is represented by the yellow line on the map – this connects the Waverley estate (and so the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) with the National Cycle Network route 627. It will involve a bridge over Handsworth roundabout.

Cost: ? currently unfunded and not in any budget.

Route 5 Blackburn Valley cycle route.  You can see the route here.

This is a ‘Green route’ through the countryside which is already part built and this round of funding will go towards some of the missing sections. The red line bit is ready to be built, the stripey blue line is already there and the solid blue route is unfunded.

This is a poor use of the Sheffield’s very limited  spend on cycling.

Cost: £950,000*

Route 6 and 7. Little Don Link/Upper Don Valley cycle route.  This is a ‘Green route’ through the countryside which is already part built and this round of funding will go towards some of the missing sections.

You can see route 6 here and route 7 here.

On Route 6 the council are building the yellow dashed line from the orange dashed line to bridge A. The developer of the Oughtibridge paper mill site is paying for the rest (yellow dashed line from bridge A to where it joins the green dashed line).

Route 7 goes from Wortley Road to Fox valley.

This is a poor use of the Sheffield’s very limited  spend on cycling.

Cost: £1,725,000*

What do CycleSheffield think?

Around £3.7 million is being spent on routes where there is no known demand, while people are at risk on busy roads.

The council should prioritise routes that enable people to make every day journeys by bike (to work, to the shops, to school) rather than leisure routes in the countryside. Given the numbers of cyclist tram track accidents it is extremely disappointing that Sheffield Council are not planning any routes which would enable cyclists to avoid these hazards.

As the STEP funding needs to spent by March 2018, the council seem to be spending money on green routes as they are much easier to achieve but won’t do anything to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes.

*costs are taken from Sheffield City Region 3 year STEP budget which you can see here.

Organised Cycle Rides in Sheffield

There are plenty of regular cycle rides around Sheffield. From women only rides to cycle racing. If you’re looking for people to cycle with in Sheffield then you’ll have no trouble finding something to suit you.

Monthly Friday Night Rides [Facebook]. Exploring Sheffield by bike and being a tourist in your own city. Whether it be a tour of Chip Shops, locations of The Full Monty or Ruskin in Sheffield, there’s a different theme each month. The rides start somewhere in the city centre on a Friday evening.

Sheffield CTC [Facebook] have plenty of rides. They are on multiple days of the week and vary from very easy to very hard depending on what you’re looking for! They start from all over the city depending on the route. Sign up to their newsletter to keep up to date with all the details.

There are hundreds of Sky Ride Local rides taking place around Sheffield. They start all over the city and vary in length, from very easy to challenging. The people leading these rides are local cyclists who have been trained by British Cycling.

And very similar are Breeze Rides which are regular women only rides which start from all over the city and vary in difficulty and length. All the details are on the website.

Sheffield Cycling 4 All [Facebook] run weekly rides in Hillsborough Park. You can borrow one of their adapted cycles built to cater for specific needs. Think tricycles, side by side tandems and hand cycles.

There are plenty of road cycling clubs in Sheffield if you’re looking for faster, longer rides or to get involved in racing. Check out their websites for details. Sheffrec, Rutland Cycling ClubWomens Cycling Sheffield, Phoenix Cycling ClubStocksbridge Cycling Club, Whirlow Wheelers etc etc. There are quite a few!

If you’re looking for mountain biking then Ride Sheffield [Facebook]is an excellent community of mountain bikers. They also do a lot of campaigning and advocacy for mountain biking in Sheffield and the Peak District.

If you’re not sure about cycling in Sheffield, or your bike needs some TLC then CycleBoost [Facebook] can help you out. They have loan bikes for people to borrow, run cycle training sessions and have regular Dr. Bikes around the city where you can take your bike to get it checked.

If you’re just looking for some  tips on routes to follow then SheffieldCycleRoutes.org is the place to go. Everything from local short routes to longer rides to other cities. If your journey isn’t on there then the cycle journey planner on CycleStreets is really good.

Know of a regular ride not in this list? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Regular Sheffield Yoga FridayNightRide starts January 2015, read on …

Hi Folks,
Following a successful Yoga SFNR and +ve feedback for something regular,
we are trialling this for four months – if it is viable we will do one a month after that

Sheffield Yoga FridayNightRide

What is it? A monthly evening bike ride plus taught yoga session, which gives the pleasure and exercise of the ride and then some cool, relaxing yoga.  Learn about yoga or supplement your usual yoga.

Weather inclement for a ride? – just go to the session

Where is it? It will be a regular event ​at the Sheffield Yoga Centre, Walkley.

The route will be the same each time. Participants can join in anywhere they like.

Meeting Point: Sheaf Sq or Fitzalan Sq tbd

When is it? 4 sessions to begin with.

If it​’s viable we shall extend it to once a month​.

Ride starts 6.30pm

Yoga session 7.45 – 9.00pm

Who is it for? Cyclists mainly – the yoga will be targeted for them. (People booked on the yoga wouldn’t necessarily have to do the ride but we encourage that or at least cycle to Walkley)​

How will people get on it? Sign up via Eventbrite per yoga session. Walk ups also allowed but ​class ​not guaranteed.  24 max for yoga session. (T&C: no show; no return unless you have a note from yr Mum)

How much will it cost?

£5.75 per per session for CycleSheffield members

£6.50 per session for non-members.  

You can join CycleSheffield online; £8 household; £4 concessions pa

Who is organising it? Ali Coldwell who led the Yoga SFNR, Nov 2014, and Mick Nott will be a participant.

Sheffield Yoga FridayNightRide