Sheffield City Region Devolution – What does it mean for cycling?

logo-960Today George Osborne has announced details of a new devolution deal for the Sheffield City Region. What does this mean for cycling and transport ?

Highlights are more control over transport budgets, franchised bus services and strategic planning, as well as a new mayor who will chair the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority.

The Combined Authority already has responsibility for delivering large transport projects (amongst other things), however it looks like they will take control of some strategic roads via a new Key Route Network of local authority roads which will be managed at a regional level.

Responsibility over the region’s transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the Spending Review

Responsibility for franchised bus services, which will support the Combined Authority’s delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across its councils

Responsibility for an identified Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be collaboratively managed and maintained at the city region level by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor

Powers over strategic planning

This all sounds very similar to the situation in London with Transport for London being headed up by the Mayor of London, the ability for TfL to franchise bus services, managing a strategic network of key roads and strategic planning. There will be lots of involvement of the private business sector as there is with TfL (this already happens at a Sheffield City Region level).

I think that TfL and the Mayoral leadership have been good at delivering for cycling (comparatively compared to area’s outside of London). We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we’ve said for a long time that we’d like the same level of control (and investment) that London has with transport and funding, perhaps we’re now on that path in Sheffield.


Local Sustainable Transport Fund – £275,000 spent on widening a trunk road roundabout in Rotherham

P1180766 - cropped

Newly widened, the third outside lane on the approach and on the roundabout is new – Funded by LSTF

In July 2014 Rotherham Council decided to spend £225,000 of their Local Transport Plan funding on improving Rotherway Roundabout [council approval document]

Earlier this year it became clear that the costs had risen to £275,000 and that the funding source had been switched to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund [LSTF final spend document]

£275,000 of LSTF money to be spent on Rotherway Roundabout Revisions. Source

£275,000 of LSTF money to be spent on Rotherway Roundabout Revisions. Source

A significant queue frequently forms on the A630 West Bawtry Road approach to the Rotherway roundabout in the evening peak period and at times this queue can be 600m long. This queue causes delay to traffic using the A630 and also causes issues with some drivers using an adjacent service road at inappropriate speed to cut out some of the queue.

Consideration of the practicalities of the free flow and widening options shows that the preferred scheme is to widen the A631 West Bawtry Road approach from Canklow entry to the Rotherway roundabout and it is recommended that this scheme is progressed to detailed design and implementation.

It is expected that by reducing the length of queues on the A630 West Bawtry Road entry to the Rotherway roundabout that traffic queues and delay would be reduced and that, together with the recently introduced traffic calming, would mean that drivers would no longer use the service road.

This was approved along with the preliminary design below.

Rotherway Roundabout Preliminary Drawing

You can see on Streetview the construction works of the approach widening and the roundabout widening. There was already a shared use footway at the edge, that hasn’t been changed.

This is what it looks like now. Is this a good way to spend £275,000 of LSTF money? I don’t think so!

Grey to Green – Money found for public art, but not Space for Cycling

Grey-to-Green-Phase-1We’re about to spend £160k of savings from the Sheffield Grey to Green project on public art.

This is a road scheme on an old ring road, which will narrow the carriageways, create shared use pavements, and install meadows. There wasn’t enough money to install adequate cycling infrastructure, but £160k of saving have been found and will be spent creating public art.

Our priorities are wrong.

This allocation of funding is due to be approved at the 27 May Sheffield Cabinet Meeting[pdf].

Grey to Green Public Art
This project will provide Public Art as part of the Grey to Green Phase 1 – Sheffield Riverside Business District project. The inclusion of Public Art was always envisaged as part of the Grey to Green Phase 1 project but was not included in the Grey to Green Phase 1 Procurement Strategy due to funding pressures.
Following a competitive tender on the Grey to Green Phase 1 project sufficient savings have been made to confidently allow this part of the project to proceed. European Regional Development Funding have now confirmed that they will allow their portion of the remaining budget to be used for this project and a variation will be submitted to seek approval to use part of the remaining budget for the Public Art project.
The total budget for this part of the project is £160k split as follows:
Construction Cost – £65k
Client Costs Capital – £85k (£20k Foundations; £40k Artists Commissions; £25k Commuted Sums (Amey Maintenance)
Fees – £10k
Funded by £64k of ERDF which is included as an approved variation to the original Grey to Green Phase 1 – Sheffield Riverside Business District funding agreement.


Procurement strategy for highways in Sheffield – Single Source Tendering

Next week the Cabinet of Sheffield City Council will make a decision about signing up to a single source tender procurement strategy for highways. See Page 71 of this document which is on the agenda for the cabinet meeting of 27th May 2015.

The value of these highways schemes is listed as £7.5million for the year.

Is this wise!? I had no idea that this is how we tendered for highways projects in Sheffield.

The estimated value of additions to the Highways programme for 2015-16 is £7.5m Please note if there are any further variations /new additions to the 2015/16 programme this procurement strategy will cover those schemes, subject to the scheme being approved at CPG and normal approval route and is within the scope of the Waiver. The proposed strategy is single source tenders in accordance with Schedule 7 of the Highways PFI contract, Amey are issued tender documents and Amey are required to submit prices and provide a work programme for the delivery of the schemes. New Works Team to prepare contracts (NEC) for each scheme and send part 1 to Amey for completion

Recommendation: –

To approve the procurement strategy seeking approval to enter into a single source tender using Amey Hallam Highways Ltd for highway design and highway construction projects that are not part of the Streets ahead projects for the period 01 April 2015 to 31st March 2016 subject to:

  • CPG being satisfied that there is clear evidence that the Waiver does demonstrate value for money recognising the outcome of competitively tendered projects;

  • Two specific cycling infrastructure schemes over £200k to be competitively tendered;

  • Highways schemes following the Gateway process and Financial Regulations; and

  • Contract awards to be made through CPG in line with the Cabinet delegation.

New Sheffield Cabinet Member Appointments – Trying to make sense of it all

Sheffield Council has a new cabinet! But is it clear who has responsibility for what?

  • Leader of the Council- Councillor Julie Dore
  • Finance and Resources- Councillor Ben Curran
  • Business Skills and Development- Councillor Leigh Bramall
  • Housing- Councillor Jayne Dunn
  • Neighbourhoods- Councillor Isobel Bowler
  • Environment and Transport- Councillor Terry Fox
  • Health, Care and Independent Living- Councillor Mary Lea
  • Public Health and Equality- Councillor Mazher Iqbal
  • Children, Young People and Families- Councillor Jackie Drayton

Cabinet Member Responsibilities, published 13th May 2015

Seems simple enough right? Not really!

The council press release is very ambiguous over who exactly is doing what, there seem to be shared roles, roles with titles that don’t actually include that responsibility and unfilled roles.

In Sheffield there is a “Leader’s Scheme of Delegation of Executive Functions” which explains how all of this works. This is what I’ve been able to cobble together.

Official Roles – Taken from The Leader’s Scheme of Delegation of Executive Functions Nov 2014 Name from Press Release Position from Press Release
Chair of Cabinet and Leader of the Council Councillor Julie Dore Leader of the Council
Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development (Portfolio includes planning and transport) Councillor Leigh Bramall Business Skills and Development
Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families Councillor Jackie Drayton Children, Young People and Families
Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Heath (Portfolio includes the Voluntary, Community and Faith sectors and libraries) Councillor Mazher Iqbal Public Health and Equality
Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure (Portfolio includes parks and positive activities for young people)
Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene (Portfolio includes climate change, waste management and the ‘Streets Ahead’ project) Councillor Terry Fox Environment and Transport
Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources (Portfolio includes performance) Councillor Ben Curran Finance and Resources
Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Independent Living (Portfolio includes adult services) Councillor Mary Lea Health, Care and Independent Living
Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods (Portfolio includes housing, safety and regeneration) Councillor Jayne DunnCouncillor Isobel Bowler HousingNeighbourhoods

Councillor Mazher Iqbal is down as “public health and equality”, the closest official post I can find is “Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Heath”. Where has communities gone? Equality isn’t mentioned in the official role responsibilities.

There is no Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure as best I can tell. Who’s going to do that job?

Councillor Terry Fox is down as “Environment and Transport” but the closest role I can find is “Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene (Portfolio includes climate change, waste management and the ‘Streets Ahead’ project)”. So where has recycling gone? And why is transport listed in the press release? It’s clear from Councillor Leigh Bramall’s role that he has responsibility for transport “Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development (Portfolio includes planning and transport)”.

And then Councillors Jayne Dunn and Isobel Bowler each have responsibility for Housing and Neighbourhoods respectively, however there only seems to be a single role available which is “Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods (Portfolio includes housing, safety and regeneration)”. Are they going to share that role?

I’m not aware that the Leader’s Scheme of Delegation has changed. There seems to be a lot of ambiguity here.

The detailed responsibilities for each role are Sheffield – Leaders Scheme of Delegation Nov 2014 – Cabinet Roles (taken from the Leader’s Scheme of Delegation)


Cycle lanes on the outside parked cars, a recipe for disaster

A couple of video’s of some new cycle lanes in Sheffield. These have been built in the past couple of weeks.

Let’s be honest, you’d have to be insane to think that this is even remotely safe.

This road has 6 lanes for driving, one for parking, 4 for driving along and one for turning. The people in charge have decided that the best place for people cycling is in-between parked cars, and traffic.

A much better place would be behind the parked cars, between the footpath and the parking bays. Why not do it like this?

Cycling in Utrecht

Cycling in Utrecht

We’re all taught to leave plenty of room when cycling past parked cars in case a door opens and you get knocked into the path of heavy traffic. But why are our roads even designed with this being a possibility? Swap the lanes around, put the cycle lane behind parked cars and this risk just goes away.

If a door opens you fall onto the pavement instead of in front of a truck. But it’s easier to avoid this and cycle further away because cycling away from car doors in this arrangement doesn’t mean cycling in the way of heavy traffic!

We need to start thinking differently, start making small changes and start to design our roads like this.

Cycling in Utrecht

Cycling in Utrecht

Cycling in Assen

Cycling in Assen

South Yorkshire Sustainable Transport Exemplar Programme – The biggest project in 2015/16 is a car park extension!

logo-960You just couldn’t make it up. Does car parking really count as sustainable transport?

The Sheffield City Region Growth Deal includes a ‘Sustainable Transport Exemplar Programme’ with £16.3m investment for five years from 2015/16 to 2021, with £3.3million in the first year.

The list of schemes funded in the first year has been announced and include things like bike paths and pedestrian crossings.

The largest scheme though, at £670,000, is a “Meadowhall Car Park Extension”. You read that right, a car park extension. 19% of the annual sustainable transport exemplar programme budget this year is being spent on a car park extension.

2015-16 Sustrainable Transport Exemplar Programme Schemes

2015-16 Sustrainable Transport Exemplar Programme Schemes

This money could pay for significant amounts of bike paths, cycle parking, reducing through traffic, 20mph zones etc. etc. etc. This year the Sheffield budget for 20mph zones is £400,000, the budget for this car park extension is £670,000.

I’m appalled. Follow the money, and it’s clear what the true priorities are for transport spending.

Schemes announced at Monday 16th March meeting of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee.

A look at some older cycling infrastructure in Sheffield. A semi protected straight on movement at The Common, Ecclesfield

There’s some interesting historical cycling infrastructure in Sheffield, and one in particular of a *semi* protected straight on with a left turn lane in Ecclesfield.

The Common, Ecclesall, Sheffield, Cycle Infrastracture

The design for this movement is quite innovative for the UK. The phasing of the traffic lights means that people can cycle down the left of queuing traffic, turn across the front of the queue and get to a position in front of traffic queueing to go straight on.

You need protected straight on movements at junctions with left turn lanes because getting into an outside lane on a bicycle isn’t at all a pleasant experience, you feel extremely vulnerable when doing it.

I think the fundamental design proposition is sound, not requiring people on bikes to get into the outside lane, but the execution is poor and it’s been neglected for a very long time. The approach lane is extremely narrow, the surface is terrible, there’s potential for conflict with people walking at the crossing point, there’s zero protection once traffic starts moving and ultimately, this junction exists in a vacuum, it is not part of a cycling network at all.

Abandoned and neglected cycle infrastructure

Abandoned and neglected cycle infrastructure

This picture is from just 15 meters up the road and shows the 100m or so of 1.1m wide cycle lane that exists around here.

The Common, Ecclesfield. Definitely no Space for Cycling.

The Common, Ecclesfield. Definitely no Space for Cycling.

This video of me cycling here shows most of the problems with this junction very clearly, I get beeped by a car and passed far too closely by a van.

A much better layout for people on bikes would be something like this with changes in the traffic light phasing to hold left turning traffic when right turning traffic was green, as well as looking at the wider network of roads and creating Space for Cycling.

This junction needs a complete rethink, there aren’t even pedestrian crossing phases, only dropped kerbs and islands.

The Common, Ecclesfield, Sheffield, An alternative layout for cycling

The Common, Ecclesfield, Sheffield, An alternative layout for cycling


£800,000 investment for cycling and tourism in Yorkshire – Just 0.5% of what’s required

NIck CleggToday Nick Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam has announced £500,000 for cycle infrastructure in Yorkshire.

The Deputy Prime Minister has also announced £500,000 to improve cycling facilities in Yorkshire. The investment will contribute to constructing a number of cycle circuits across the county. Every year each circuit will support 10,000 competitive and recreational cyclists who want to take part in the sport away from traffic, with access to the best support facilities.

Press release

Is this enough money? Given that the population of Yorkshire is 4.9million and the Get Britain Cycling Report recommended we spend £10 to £20 per person per year, Yorkshire needs to invest £49,000,000 per year. £500,000 over two years is clearly not even a drop in the ocean. It represents just 0.5% of what we need to be spending.

It seems that most of this money will be spent on leisure cycling, rather than in investing in creating pleasant towns and cities where people can get around by bike.

Space for cycling logo and 6 demands

Remove Through Motor Traffic; Revisiting Donald Appleyard’s study in 21st century Britain

Remove Through Motor Traffic“I’ve got to say- even I was startled by the degree to which car traffic is degrading ordinary people’s lives.”
Josh Hart

One of the Space for Cycling principals is the removal of through traffic. This is really important, research has shown that our communities suffer when their roads are used by high volume motor traffic.

In 1969 San Francisco Donald Appleyard “demonstrated that people living on a street with relatively heavy traffic had only one-third as many social connections as people living on a relatively light-traffic street

When we talk about ‘Livable Streets’, this phrase was originally coined by Donald Appleyard. His work is summarised in this great video from StreetFilms.

Revisiting Donald Appleyard’s Livable Streets from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Appleyard‟s (1969) diagram of intra-street social connections. Lines represent specific social connections whilst dots identify where people were reported to gather.

Appleyard‟s (1969) diagram of intra-street social connections. Lines represent specific social connections whilst dots identify where people were reported to gather.

This study was replicated just a few years ago in Bristol;

The results confirmed that Appleyard’s findings are applicable to the UK in the 21st century; specifically that the number of friends and acquaintances reported by residents was significantly lower on streets with higher volumes of motor traffic. The extent of people’s home territories‟ also diminished as motor traffic increased.

They produced similar community interaction maps and the results are strikingly similar.

Community interaction on three Bristol streets. Hart, J. and Parkhurst, G. (2011)

Community interaction on three Bristol streets. Hart, J. and Parkhurst, G. (2011)

They found that “motor traffic through a neighbourhood has an inverse relationship with the number of social relationships in that neighbourhood.”

Comparison of bristol with appleyard

“During the interviews, residents were asked to draw their ‘home territories’. Home territory was defined as the “area over which you feel you have a sense of personal responsibility or stewardship” (Appleyard, 1981). The results confirmed Appleyard‟s findings about the relationship between traffic level and the range of home territories.”

bristol - home territory diagramsThese two studies are linked below If you’d like to read them.

A blog post by one of the authors, Josh Hart – No Friends? Blame the Traffic…