Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road are key arterial routes into the city centre. Neither road has any protected cycle infrastructure. According to the Propensity to Cycle modelling they have a high potential for the conversion of car trips to cycle trips using the ‘Go Dutch’ model and so according to the council’s 2019 transport strategy should be a priority for active travel improvements – ‘Improved cycling infrastructure prioritised in city centre and areas with greatest potential to reduce car trips ‘ (page 7). Ecclesall Road is the most dangerous for cycling in Sheffield based on the number of collisions involving people cycling and Abbeydale Road is in the top 10. Research has also demonstrated that having roads that prioritise people walking and cycling boost business.
Both roads need continuous, protected cycle lanes. This is essential to enable more people to cycle. The heavy volume of motor traffic along both roads requires this, the council cannot expect people to share space with motor traffic on these roads. This ‘Sustainable Safety’ approach is set out in the council’s 2019 Transport Strategy. Reallocation of road space to enable cycling is also part of the 2021 report Pathways to Zero Carbon Sheffield council commissioned from Arup. Rather than focussing on improving motor traffic flow which will only be, at best, a short term fix the Connecting Sheffield schemes along these roads should enable modal shift towards active travel.
If protected cycle routes aren’t created from the Transforming Cities funding on Ecclesall Road or Abbeydale Road then alternative routes which are no less direct, convenient or attractive to use need to be created as part of the Connecting Sheffield plans. This approach is outlined in the council’s Transport Strategy – ‘The intention would be for main traffic routes, public transport routes and main cycle routes to be separated as far as practical, preferably in different streets, but failing that within separate spaces within a street’ (page 28).
The fear of cycling along a motor centric road is already reflected in some of the consultation responses e.g. “I’d love to cycle to work in the city centre but it is simply too stressful and dangerous”. For example, overtaking buses is something only fast, confident cyclists are willing to do. Without protected cycle lanes cyclists will have to filter two lanes of general traffic; this is something that many cyclists do not feel confident to do and is impossible for cargo bikes and trikes.
We object to the removal of bus lanes. The removal of bus lanes to benefit general motor traffic flow is unusual for a scheme which is designed to improve bus times. We support lengthening the times and days the bus lanes are in operation. Whilst bus lanes are not cycle infrastructure they are often preferable for cycling in than general traffic lanes for people who currently cycle. Therefore by removing the bus lanes the council are making cycling less appealing for the few who currently cycle – undermining its active travel targets as no alternative routes are being proposed.
In summary, the plans are a huge missed opportunity to create protected space for cycling on these wide valley routes. Some of the current plans risk making these roads even more dangerous than they currently are.