CycleSheffield’s response to the Call for Evidence from the Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee: Cycling Inquiry
Cycling more than doubled in Sheffield between 2000 and 2011
1. What specific actions have helped the city achieve this growth?
SCC have promoted and supported through the use of Government grants and SCC monies cycle training schemes in workplaces, schools, and for individuals who work or live in Sheffield. Thousands of schoolchildren and hundreds of adults have been trained to ride bikes confidently and competently.
In some places SCC has ensured that cycling infrastructure (i.e. paths and lanes) , e.g. the inner ring road has got an extensive cycling ring route. In other places the picture is not coherent see section 2 below.
SCC has used LSTF monies from SY ITA bids to support cycle routes, e.g. the new cycle path from Meadowhall to R’ham, Sheffield CycleBoost scheme which is part of the Inmotion! project in SY.
SCC has a Cycle Forum which has kept negotiations and discussions with cyclists going and is now moving up a gear so that it’s discussing policy as well as practice and is to introduce a systematic way of consulting cyclists about highways developments.
The work of the voluntary sector, e.g. 5WW Trust, Sustrans (separate report from Sustrans being submitted).
The growth of bike shops for retail and servicing is a response to the interest in cycling and is necessary to provide choices of bikes to buy and own and the infrastructure to service bikes. To our knowledge, there is also one business going into bike hire in Sheffield, the target audience will be visitors.
There has been an active promotion of cycling resources/information/benefits by SCC and other organizations, including CycleSheffield, through a programme of Dr Bikes and/or attendance at local events/fairs etc.
There have been good examples of support for cyclists. For example, The NHS Trust and other enterprises have supported cyclists through a cycle to work programme, the formation of Bike Users Groups, and provision of Dr Bikes. The University has used monies raised from car parking permits to fund and subsidise a programme of selling students refurbished second-hand bikes, regular Dr Bikes for staff and students and the recent introduction of a full maintenance service with a Bike Hut.
2. What specific barriers prevent people from cycling or from cycling more frequently?
2.1 Cycling infrastructure
can be incoherent. It doesn’t link up or just disappears. We realise that this is linked to development monies but is still very confusing and frustrating for all cyclists.
is very vulnerable to abuse and neglect, e.g. the recent problems with the Sheaf Valley Cycle Route and its links, parking on cycle lanes and paths, maintenance of vegetation that impinges on cycle paths. All of these stop people from cycling or force them to take routes with fast-moving traffic; lack of maintenance and enforcement is a deterrent to cycling.
is hampered by uncooperative land owners or businesses, e.g. extension of the Blackburn Valley cycle route to Chapeltown, sections of the Penistone Cycle route
is hampered or destroyed by planning decisions, eg. the new market being built over a cycle route with no consideration for a good alternative being provided, the banning of cycling on the Moor.
has inconsistent rules wrt permission to cycle: the projected Steel Route from Castlegate to Moorfoot has key sections where cycling is not allowed, eg pedestrianised Fargate, pedestrianised The Moor whereas the Gold Route has unbroken cycling access from Sheaf Square to the University including shared use pedestrian/cyclist routes on Howard St to Surrey St.
such as secure cycle parking is a necessary requirement by shops, leisure outlets, workplaces and homes. SCC provides a map online of where cycle parking stands and parks are located in the city-centre; SCC has pushed a bike parking scheme (http://www.parkthatbike.com/), the stands used in the city centre are a good example of form over function, not the optimum shape for locking bikes too and sometimes sited too close to walls or paths, some car parks provide cycle parking. The Moor MSCP entry on Eyre St, exit on Eyre Lane has exemplary secure, covered 24/7/365 bicycle parking.
2.2 Perception of cyclists’ safety on the roads is a barrier to people taking up cycling.
There is evidence of poor driver behaviour which on narrow and busy roads deters cyclists; SCC’s own submission to the DfT wrt Section 6 of the RTA affirms this view
The condition of the roads is generally poor/awful but it is improving with Streets Ahead. Streets Ahead has an opportunities programme and our first attempt to have cyclist-suggested or cyclist- friendly opportunities implemented has been unsuccessful. The PFI contract may not encourage retrofitting of cycle facilities or experimentation with road design and road markings.
Even experienced cyclists find some of Sheffield’s roads especially junctions hazardous to negotiate. The design and development of roads does not sufficiently consider cyclists unless it is an afterthought, e.g Spital Hill. Cycle audits, an essential requirement of designing for cycling as well as other road traffic for all Highways schemes over £50k (which will be most of them) as specified as part of the Cycle Action Plan 2006-2011 were never implemented. This is a real failure of management of implementation and monitoring of intentions. They have now started but concentrating on the Streets Ahead Opportunities Scheme (with which CycleSheffield collaborates) but these have not seen the light of day yet.
Speed limits. There is a need for 20mph limits in all districts and on all routes where people could and would, if conditions were more conducive, use cycling as a significant means of everyday transport for commuting/school run/shopping and social journeys – see latest DfT guidance (DfT 01/2013 Setting Local Speed Limits). A 20mph limit should apply to the city centre (inside the inner ring road). The faster that motor vehicles can move in relation to cyclists, the more is the need for segregation of cyclists (and pedestrians) from them. 20mph zones in Bristol led to 25% increase in walking and cycling.
We have already noted that driver behaviour, abuse and negligence of cycle facilities can hinder cycling. Enforcement of issues that deter cycling involve the police and different departments of the Council. Who is responsible for what is confusing and in our view can involve buck passing. The result is that nothing may be enforced. CycleSheffield have been dogged in pursuing this at the CycleForum and with the relevant agencies. We have just started discussions with SYP (Sheffield District) about cycling matters.
2.4 Integration of transport
Ideally bikes should be integrated where possible and segregated where necessary with the road network.
The carriage of bikes is mandatory on heavy rail. We believe, as do SCC, that the carriage of bikes on light-rail should also be mandatory. We also believe that it should be mandatory on the tram network and there is plenty of evidence from overseas that the carriage of bikes on light-rail and trams is not problematic.
The carriage of bikes on buses is allowed on some services. This service could be extended.
There is a need for adequate secure bike parking at all transport interchanges.
3. What evidence is there from other large cities or towns (in the UK or abroad) on broadening and increasing participation in cycling, with a particular emphasis on improving the economic, health and environmental impacts?
Cycling England (a body established under the former Labour government and abolished by the present Government) set up Cycle Demonstration Towns and Cities and funded a variety of aspects of cycle promotion, from infrastructure to health promotion, working with children, inclusive cycling and so forth. Sheffield was not chosen to participate in this programme. All the participating towns and cities showed increases in cycling but the ones that invested in training, infrastructure and promotion – that is, had an integrated approach with interventions across a number of different areas working together had the greatest increases in cycling.
British Cycling/LSE published a report The British Cycling Economy, 2011. It showed that the cycle industry has a GDP of £3bn pa across the UK. As a rough rule of thumb Sheffield, with a population of 500,000 is a ‘1% of the UK’ town so that could mean a bike GDP of £30m in Sheffield. Some of this will be spent on the internet, but you can’t view a bike on the net and you certainly can’t get a bike fixed or serviced on the internet. If the APPCG recommendation of 10% of journeys to be by bike by 2025 and 25% by 2050 is to be realised then there is a need for a city-wide network of businesses to sell & service bikes. Plenty of opportunities here.
The benefit-cost-ratio (BCR) for cycling is cited as anywhere from 4:1 to 13:1 depending on the nature and range of the investments and interventions and their co-ordination. The BCR is better the more integrated the interventions. The benefits are both personal, e.g better personal fitness, health, savings on fuel, fares and medicines, and social, e.g. such as better air quality, less noise, reduced health services costs, less absenteeism.
4. What in your view are the top three actions that would broaden and increase cycling in Sheffield?
1. SCC should
continue with its programme of bike training and promotion of cycling in/for schools, workplaces, residents and Sheffield based workers
continue with the evolution of the Cycle Forum as the place where SCC and other agencies can discuss and consult with cyclists and their interest groups on the development and practice of cycling matters.
maintain the post of Cycle Champion, which is assigned to a senior officer in the Council, to ensure that reforms and policies are pushed through
ensure that a Cycling Officer is appointed as soon as possible and that this post is not junior or marginalised
introduce cycle-awareness training for all its drivers and ensure that its contractors. e.g Veolia, Amey, also have programmes of cycle-awareness training (Veolia do this in London boroughs)
ensure when it introduces schemes such as CycleBoost that it informs and involves local cycling businesses who will have to tolerate subsidised bikes being sold to scheme participants and will have to supply the bike maintenance business generated when the scheme finishes.
ensure that there is a programme of professional development training for council staff in: council policies wrt cycling and what that means for their work in health promotion, environmental work, eg air quality, noise etc, and highways. There has been no worthwhile training of staff in doing cycle audits or including cycle audits in the procedure for highway developments and staff have not kept themselves up-to-date on designing for cycling
be planning, at both councillor and officer level, for how it will work with the other 9 LAs in the Sheffield City Region. Transport grants will be allocated to this region (as opposed to solely Sheffield LA) and it is important that this body has policies on cycling, and why and how it wants cycling to develop. Officers across the SCR will need to have shovel-ready cycling projects prepared for as and when monies get released (Sheffield failed to receive Cycling City Ambition Money because there was no preparedness within the SCR with schemes applicable for the magnitude of grants and/or cooperating across the LAs).
2. Internally there is a need for joined-up thinking and action at SCC through
at the most senior level ensuring that intentions and policies are transformed into action by executive and across departments. For example, the Leader of the Council has signed up to the Times’ campaign, Cities Fit for Cycling, but, apart from the appointment of a Cycling Champion this manifesto has no manifestation within the actions or policies of the Council. Other examples are below. There are too many silos, not enough smart thinking, monies being wasted and good intentions confounded. There do not seem to be any clear procedures or processes by which policy is transformed into action wrt cycling at a grand or a basic level.
some creativity and imagination to start thinking outside the box, e.g. Greater Manchester is supporting 20mph zones through its health budget as the resultant increase in physical activity and reductions in injuries (or worse) have a BCR greater than 1 wrt health benefits. SCC needs to be looking for what is possible and stop looking for what is impossible.
ensuring that Cycle Action Plans are kept current and that there is proper monitoring of targets/outcomes set, evidence: the last cycle plan went out of date in 2011. There appear to be no internal systems which flag that important guiding docs are going out of date and need renewing. Although the targets wrt to raising the number of people cycling were met, absolutely no progress has been made in highway design and cycle audits of all new highway developments – see professional development below. That and the fact that the council’s agreed policy to implement Cycle Audits is only now being implemented in 2013, and in a limited fashion, suggests that proper internal monitoring of targets/outcomes (and policies) has not been happening.
planning, development & highways being far more integrated at the initial stages of urban planning, and road design, Our evidence: the current city centre master plan was very weak in its knowledge of the current cycle routes network, The Moor has been re-developed with no consideration for cyclists or cycle access, cycle routes to places are more like by-passes than direct routes and clear links don’t exist, e.g. the 5WW, ‘sold’ to cyclists as the route to Attercliffe, has no clear signed cycling links to Attercliffe (unless you go on a muddy, unpaved, undefined path through the old churchyard between the vicarage and The Kings Head which is inadequate and unsafe as a (cycle) path)
competence and thoroughness with monitoring that planning conditions are complied with, and enforced if necessary, e.g. the Sheaf Valley Cycle Route and VA and U-Mix. SCC are making expensive and confounding mistakes.
competence and thoroughness in following the little amount of procedure that is agreed. Our evidence: there has been a lack of consultation with the CTC R2R rep wrt some TROs and poor service standards with responses, cf SCC Customer Charter. These are now improving but only because CycleSheffield has made a lot of noise about getting agreements followed and replies sent.
a sound review by SCC officers and councillors responsible for business and economic development and regeneration of what is possible through the bike ‘business’, e.g. frame-making, retail (new and second-hand), servicing and repair, selling accessories, cyclist training, providing rides, cycle tourism both on road and off-road. It was telling that, whilst there were highways briefings and health briefings, no officer was able to brief the Scrutiny Committee on the economics of cycling in Sheffield yet SCC has expressed such earnest intentions for it.
Lower traffic speeds in appropriate areas should be implemented as soon as possible. It would be most readily/cheaply/effectively achieved by a default 20mph speed limit city-wide, with higher speeds considered the exception on appropriate ‘arterial’ routes.
SCC should ensure that all commercial, retail, leisure, residential and workplace developments (including all new car parks) have adequate if not more-than-sufficient access for bikes, access to bike ‘trunk routes’ and covered, secure bike parking as part of their planning conditions.
Reports on various aspects of cycling in Sheffield at
The European Network for Cycling Expertise (www.velo.info) has pertinent and concise briefs on issues to do with cycling
The All Party Parliamentary Report (2013) Get Britain Cycling
(This report stimulated CycleSheffield to ask SCC to do something similar on a local scale, hence this inquiry)
What does an ideal cycle town look like?
Examples here https://www.ctc.org.uk/cycletopia
Advice for cyclists/campaigners https://www.ctc.org.uk/cycletopia/how-to-create-cycletopia-in-your-town
Economics and Cycling
The economics of cycling (and also not-cycling!)
Sky/British Cycling/LSE 2011 The British Cycling Economy
The European Network for Cycling Expertise has a briefing on http://www.velo.info/Library/Cycling_Economics.pdf.
Cycling England Archive
Health and Cycling
Cycling and health is detailed here https://www.ctc.org.uk/campaigning/views-and-briefings/health-and-cycling
DfT 01/2013 Setting Local Speed Limits
CycleNation – the federation of local cycle campaign groups, has briefing papers here on the impact of cycling on health and the safety/risk of cycling
Environment and Cycling
Cycling and climate change is detailed here https://www.ctc.org.uk/campaigning/views-and-briefings/climate-change
Road design and cycling
but the main one we have asked SCC to use and ensure that consultants for developers use is
Local Transport Note 02/08 Cycle Infrastructure Design
This has recently had a supplement Local Transport Note 1/12 Shared Use Routes for Pedestrians and Cyclists (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9179/shared-use-routes-for-pedestrians-and-cyclists.pdf)