CycleSheffield campaigns for cycling to be made safe and enjoyable for everyday journeys, for anyone. We are a voluntary organisation with 1200 supporters.
We welcome the focus on reducing impact of motor traffic on people using the area. The plan includes many good features to improve pedestrian priority. But proposals also show worrying use of shared space, and greater ambition is needed on removing motor traffic to allow for a safe cycle network which doesn’t continue to exclude most people.
We agree with the draft plan identifying motor traffic as the overriding negative factor in the area. This creates a disabling effect on people (especially children, older and less mobile), making them less willing or able to walk, and especially cycle, within and across the area. This has a serious effect on people’s health and independence.
We welcome the intentions of the plan and especially the Boulevard project to reduce the priority and impact of this traffic and make an environment which improves the safety and convenience of walking and cycling. We particularly support the proposed elements:
- Replacing on-street parking around the retail centre with pedestrian and green space
- Creating continuous footway pavements across side streets
- Reducing speed limits to 20mph
- Narrowing carriageways
- Preventing HGV and delivery traffic during main pedestrian (and cycle) activity
- Recognising the principle of sustainable safety and the need for separation of pedestrian, cycle, and motor traffic on “Arterial Streets” (Brocco Bank/Clarkehouse Road; Glossop Road, Clarkson Street, Manchester Road, Fulwood Road, Whitham Road and Newbould Lane/Nile Street/Crookes Road)
We have concerns about:
- The Boulevard proposals with lack of adequate cycle infrastructure
- The suggestion that people using cycles taking “primary position in a traffic stream” as a design feature on main roads
- Use of ‘shared space’ in areas of heavy through-traffic
- Electric vehicle charging infrastructure
Some detail on these points:
Lack of cycle network
The design ideas mentioned (adding sections of narrow uphill cycleway) would continue the absence of a network giving acceptable cycling conditions for anyone who is not already privileged to be brave, determined and able-bodied enough to cycle already.
Cycling could make a major contribution to shifting local traffic away from motorised modes (both passenger and commercial), and massively open up independent mobility across society (especially for children, older and disabled people), but a prerequisite for this is an environment which feels safe from motor traffic.
We don’t think that trying to squeeze an uphill cycleway into either Glossop Road or Whitham Road will be enough. These current carriageways have sections between 8 metres and 7 metres wide. If two lanes of motor traffic are kept through here the remaining space for even a single-direction cycleway would be very narrow (no more than 1.5m in places). This is also in areas with uncomfortably narrow footways which should also be widened.
Although Sheffield City Council have still not published a cycle network strategic plan, there are some indications from the City Centre Plan.
This shows “main cycle routes” on each of Whitham Road, Glossop Road, and Northumberland Road.
To make conditions on any of these routes suitable for general cycling beyond hardened enthusiasts there would need to be significant reallocation of space from motor traffic. This could be done in different ways, and while this isn’t by any means a complete plan we’d encourage considering these options (shown below):
- Making Glossop Road and Whitham Road each one-way for motor traffic, freeing up half the carriageway space (with mode filtering between them to prevent rat-running)
- Closing Northumberland Road to all motor traffic (between Marlborough Road and Whitham Road)
This could improve the boulevard concept by reducing the motor traffic through most of the retail centre to a single lane, giving much more space for for segregated cycleways, wider footways, and simpler junctions and crossings.
Reducing speeds to 20mph throughout, and narrowing carriageways, would be welcome changes to slow traffic. But on busy roads like those in the plan area, these would make very little change to how vulnerable most people feel cycling. The draft plan refers to requiring people using cycles to take ‘primary position’. While it doesn’t give a detailed layout plan, this seems to imply including on main roads.
This would be unacceptable as it excludes the majority of people from the benefits of using cycles – especially more vulnerable people.
Riding defensively is necessary as a form of survival, where the road design has ignored the safety and comfort of people using cycles. It should never be a deliberately planned outcome of a highway scheme. Below is a (photoshopped) image to illustrate what this design principle would mean (or more likely, who it would exclude).
The shared space guidance note referred to has been withdrawn by the government. We hope that any revised guidance will make clearer that it is unsuitable for busy roads. It would be against the plan’s stated principle of sustainable safety and the need for separation of both cycle and pedestrian traffic from motor traffic on busy roads.
We believe removing the formal distinctions and controls on motor traffic in an attempt to reduce its danger and dominance is focusing on the symptoms rather than the cause.
There are situations where shared space can be successful (minimal motor vehicles and no through traffic), though without removing heavy traffic it doesn’t make for a comfortable place for walking or cycling, and can unfortunately even give more dominance to vehicles.
Electric vehicle charging
We suggest including a policy in the plan for the location of charging points for electric vehicles.
Without strong controls it is likely that roadside charging points will get installed on pavements, further narrowing them and getting in the way of people walking. We recommend following the approach of the City of London (see proposal 30 in their draft Transport Strategy), who aim to retain the public value of street space by keeping roadside charging to a minimum (preferring charging in carparks etc). If roadside charging equipment is installed it should be required to be in the carriageway, not the pavement.
We hope to see the plans for the BBEST area develop and put into practice the sustainable safety principles. If used effectively this should give people living in and around the area much greater freedom to move around safely, efficiently, healthily and sustainably. We are happy to discuss the points raised in this response and contribute further to the success of the BBEST plan.