SCC Transport Strategy response

SCC transport strategy

The Sheffield Council Transport Strategy is fairly long (104 pages) so if you don’t want to read it all the active travel (walking and cycling) section is on pages 64 to 67, the active travel ‘actions’ are on page 97 to 98. Pages 37 to 39 (‘Our Approach’) have proposals on redesigning streets which are relevant to active travel and page 36 has a diagram of the desired outcomes in terms of modal shift.

A lot of the explanation and justification for the strategy was covered in the council’s vision, we responded to that and there isn’t really a need to discuss this again. The need for decarbonisation of the transport system, a reduction in air pollution and congestion and more activity to reduce health problems are all obvious and there is no longer any need to discuss why these need to be achieved.

CycleSheffield response to Sheffield Transport Strategy

Sheffield City Council have published their Transport Strategy up to 2034.

We especially welcome:

  • Sustainable safety approach
  • Valuing health, Healthy Streets
  • Pavement parking ban & repurposing car parking spaces
  • Clean Air Zone
  • Fundraising/demand management including Workplace Parking Levy

We’re concerned about:

  • Priorities
  • Vagueness on carbon emissions
  • Adding car capacity

CycleSheffield support the proposals for active travel and public transport improvements to enable people to choose cleaner, greener, more healthy and efficient ways to travel. However, the strategy needs to be more ambitious in order to “…move away from a ‘car first’ approach and towards a system of active transport that works for everyone in Sheffield” (Transport Strategy Foreword, p4).

We welcome the ‘Sustainable Safety’ approach to transport schemes. This (re)designs streets to make it easier for people to use all modes safely, minimising conflict. It needs to be central to transport planning.

We support area-wide schemes which protect communities from through-traffic and make it easier for people to replace short journeys by car with cycling or walking.  There needs to be budget for better engagement with these communities. They should not be marketed as ‘cycling schemes’, but use language and images like Healthy Streets for London.

Greater use of electric bicycles could help meet and exceed the councils modal share targets. The Propensity to Cycle tool (PtC) shows that with electric bicycles and Dutch style infrastructure, Sheffield could achieve a cycle modal share of around around 25%.

Identifying health benefits

We support the proposal to assess transport schemes for health impacts, and to prioritise health benefiting schemes. The strategy should acknowledge that excessive car use contributes to inactivity, declining health and wellbeing of citizens, and increased pressure on health and social care services. A vibrant city needs healthy citizens.

SCC should strengthen its business cases for new transport schemes by capturing their wider benefits. We urge SCC to commit to identifying economic health benefits of active travel, using these two tools: The World Health Organization’s Health Economic Assessment Tool for walking and cycling (HEAT) and The Sickness Absence Reduction Tool (SART).

Local funding and managing demand

Central government can’t be relied on for adequate funding, so SCC must develop its own funding streams for transport. We support the proposals for a Clean Air Zone and a Workplace Parking Levy and would support the introduction of other demand management schemes, such as congestion charging. Funds raised should be invested in active travel and public transport.

The strategy should explain how SCC will work with regional transport and funding bodies to ensure that funding active travel is a top priority.

We support the Sheffield Parking Strategy, particularly the pavement parking ban and reallocating parking spaces to sustainable travel. We would support further systematic removal of parking spaces following other progressive cities.

How not to solve congestion

The elephant in this strategy is major road expansion.

We cannot support the proposals to ‘increase capacity’ and ‘improve junctions’ on the Inner Ring Road and ‘improve accessibility by road’ to the city centre, the Upper and Lower Don Valley. We cannot support new or expanded roads to Rotherham or Manchester. We cannot support road-widening schemes masquerading as public transport improvements.

These ‘improvements’ will:

  • induce more car journeys
  • waste money better used for active travel and public transport
  • impede people crossing by foot or cycle
  • disconnect communities and neighbourhoods

Congestion on Sheffield’s roads should not be viewed as a problem which needs to be fixed by more or bigger roads or more efficient junctions. It’s an opportunity to provide high quality alternatives more attractive than sitting gridlocked in a car.

These road scheme proposals raise questions about whether a shift away from a ‘car first approach’ is being taken seriously.

Carbon reductions

This transport strategy does not show SCC is serious about planning to meet its responsibilities in preventing catastrophic climate breakdown. The strategy is dangerously vague and uncommitted to achieving reductions in carbon emissions, let alone at the urgency and scale required by recent scientific advice. It has clear plans to expand major roads, but no clear pathway for reducing emissions.

The aim to “Develop and enact roadmap to decarbonisation of motorised transport” is welcome, but needs urgent timescales and wider scope. It must consider the potential for transport to be de-motorised, as well as swapping petrol/diesel for electric vehicles.

Policy 8A, “We will intervene to enable a shift away from carbon intensive modes of transport to less carbon intensive modes where these are suitable” again sounds nice, but does not commit to anything. The council’s ‘anticipation’ of car journeys in 2034 being 100% of 2015 levels shows how little it expects to achieve.

Analysis from Transport for Quality of Life shows that, even with dramatic adoption of electric vehicles, UK car mileage must still be reduced by 20-60% by 2030 to limit global temperature increase to 1.5C.

We need a target to decrease private car journeys, with scheme development prioritised to achieve this.

Policy 8B states “We will aim to achieve a zero carbon public transport network.” Using energy or manufactured resources cannot be “zero carbon”, without capturing CO2. This wouldn’t be expected within a transport network. The strategy needs credible commitment to specific carbon reductions, not woolly warm words.

Leaving the ‘old way’ needs new priorities

CycleSheffield welcome the acknowledgement that transport planning “…can no longer simply carry on in the old way.’ The ‘old way’ has resulted in congestion, pollution, poor health and widened inequalities. The strategy contains many positive interventions that will reduce these problems, including enabling more active travel.

However, it is unlikely that there will be enough money or time to deliver everything in the strategy. We believe that if the improvements to active travel, public transport, and managing traffic demand are prioritised then life in Sheffield will be hugely improved. If the actions which increase capacity for motor vehicles are prioritised then we will not succeed.

CycleSheffield call for a genuine move away from a ‘car first’ approach to transport.

2 thoughts on “SCC Transport Strategy response

  1. A really clear, balanced and well presented critical response on a civic level, highlighting the great content and aspirations in the strategy that really have the potential to make our city a healthier, more productive and vibrant place to be, however we choose to get about.
    It also clearly states where the strategy’s vagueness and planned schemes contain the seeds of compromise to a degree that means it will fall short of its own laudable aims.
    The response also gives clear pointers to the ways and means that these compromises and shortfalls may be addressed and corrected.
    Thanks for putting so much effort and consideration in, I sincerely hope SCC take it on board, and thus we all benefit from your efforts.

  2. Well done,
    This is well written and well argued.
    Nice aims are useless without detailed explanation of how they will be achieved.
    I guess it’s good practice to say what’s good first and then say what isn’t (as I’m doing!) but it might mean the second half – explaining what we consider unacceptable – is given less attention; I hope not.

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