There have been some major roadworks around Sheffield in the past year, and the way cyclists have been handled hasn’t always been very good – signs such as this:
We knew there was a better way than these unhelpful, negative signs – not least because better signage has been used in London and Leeds – see the sign at the right
So, last year, through the Cycle Forum, we asked Sheffield City Council (SCC) if they could have a look at the problem. It took them until the March 2015 Forum to get back to us, with what we felt was a completely inadequate response.
SCC explained to us that there are over 170 different utility companies who can dig holes in Sheffield’s streets, that there’s only one national standard – DfT’s Safety at street works and road works aka “The Red Book”, and that contractors always default to this unless there are locally agreed working practices. As these have to be agreed with each individual contractor, SCC proposed taking their suggestions to the regional contractors forum to agree these at regional level – which is fine, but the timescale now slips to months, if not years. SCC’s proposals simply consisted of some signage:
We feel these are completely inadequate, that no thought had gone into the problems of cyclists at roadworks, and this was just another example of the fobbing off we are increasingly seeing with SCC. We also note that although there might well be 170+ contractors working on Sheffield’s streets, our main issues are with just one – Amey, who are SCC’s partner in the Streets Ahead scheme.
However, a set of clear and comprehensive guidelines for cyclists at roadworks do already exist and are in use in London and other cities. So, we are calling on Sheffield City Council to adopt the London Cycling Design Standards Cyclists at Roadworks Guidance – prepared by Transport for London in 2014 as part of their Cycling Design Standards. These address such issues as:
- Temporary speed limits
- Lane widths
- Traffic signal timings
- Length of roadworks
- Temporary signage
- Road Safety Audits
- Cyclists Dismount signs [“Simply placing a ‘cyclists dismount’ sign at each of the works is not acceptable“]
We call on Sheffield City Council to adopting these guidelines and then implement them by agreement with their contractors, starting with Amey and other major contractors, and then following on with other contractors. If they wish to reach agreements at a regional level, we have no objection, but this should not hinder or delay agreements made locally in Sheffield before regional agreements.
We think these guidelines will make a step-change in the quality of cycling around roadworks – but we are interested in your views, so please do let us know.