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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.