Crossing the road in Tilburg

Last week I was in Tilburg in The Netherlands. There is a pedestrian crossing which has all the good features every crossing should have and I thought I’d share a few photos and a video of it. Streetview link.

I was immediately struck by the width of the crossing, as well as the long crossing phases and the short time people had to wait before being able to cross.

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In summary, it is direct, convenient and responsive.

  • The crossing has a very short cycle and almost 50% of the time is given to the crossing phase.
  • The crossing is very wide, it has a huge capacity and suits all pedestrian desire lines.
  • The crossing is direct, people can cross in one go without having to cross to an intermediate island.
  • The crossing has countdown timers for the wait and crossing phases.
  • Bicycles can cross the crossing as well as pedestrians. There are cycle tracks on each side of the road behind the crossing meaning that bikes never have to wait at a red signal.

YouTube video link

This is the sort of crossing that I think we should be attempting to imitate as part of the Sheffield University Masterplan across Western Bank.

Sheffield University Masterplan - Convenient well placed crossings on desire lines.

Sheffield University Masterplan – Convenient well placed crossings on desire lines.

As an aside, it seemed to me that there was far too much motor traffic using this road in the centre of town, it’d be a much more pleasant place if there was less of it.

Penistone Road Pinch Points Scheme – Improving traffic flow at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists

Part of the Penistone Road Pinch Points & Better Buses scheme is across the two main desire lines to Hillsborough college. From Hillsborough and the public transport interchange there, and from the bus stop on the west side of Penistone Road. You can review the scheme drawings here.

The design decisions made for this junction show complete contempt for anyone walking or cycling to college (or accessing the Penistone Road cycle track). It’s abundantly clear  that when designing this scheme Sheffield City Council had zero regard for their needs and have given zero consideration to their needs.

The desire lines look something like this. The crossings over Penistone Road that pedestrians and cyclists can use are numbered.

The biggest impact for these users is that the crossings over Penistone Road have been changed.

  • Crossing #1 – Stays the same but gains users that would have used #2
  • Crossing #2 – Removed, people now use crossing #1
  • Crossing #3 – Introduced, this is a new crossing

So, with crossing #2 removed, crossing #1 is now significantly overloaded and hasn’t been designed for the volume of people using it. This photo shows just how bad it can get. People have to wait on intermediary islands because there’s not enough space on the next. A bit like the computer game frogger!

Real life Frogger

Real life Frogger!

This video shows the impact on crossing #1 since crossing #2 has been removed.

In summary this video shows.

  • People waiting in the road because there’s not enough room on the crossing island.
  • People not crossing and waiting for the next phase before they cross because there’s not enough room to cross.
  • Huge conflict between bicycles and pedestrians, there isn’t any separation and it is a very crowded area (this is a toucan crossing!)
  • People crossing against a red lights
  • People not having enough time to cross Penistone Road in one phase
  • Green lights for motor traffic before people have finished crossing and vehicles driving towards people still crossing.

Crossing #3 has been introduced. It is a 4 stage crossing, the first two stages are unsignalled (one has a crossing phase, the other doesn’t, there are always cars turning in on a green light), the other two stages are a toucan crossing.

It is not on the pedestrian desire line and people who used to use crossing #2 will not use it, it’s in the wrong direction!

PR Crossing 3

Penistone Road Crossing #3 – 4 stage crossing, 2 signalised, 1 unsignalised and 1 without a crossing phase at all

Crossing #2 used to take 40 seconds to get across the road, it’s now gone :-( And crossing #1? It’s an epic 4 stage crossing, with pens for pedestrians and tiny islands. It takes 4 minutes to get across if you wait for the green man at each stage.

In this video, crossing #2 (removed) is in the top left corner. Crossing #1 is in the main window.

So, in summary: Not good at all.

The solution? I’ll quote from the Sheffield University Masterplan

The experience of walking or cycling around the campus is not a positive experience. Car movement prevails, and the Masterplan must give maximum priority to redressing this imbalance.

Alignement of crossing points to be direct and generous, eliminating staggered crossings

Sheffield University Masterplan - Convenient well placed crossings on desire lines.

Sheffield University Masterplan – Convenient well placed crossings on desire lines.

 

 

Funding for cycling in Sheffield facing 25% cuts

Last week the draft Local Transport Plan spending plans for 2015/16 were presented to the Highway Cabinet Member Decision Session. The headline is that the transport funding allocation is being slashed by 40% and cycle funding is dropping by 25%.

  • Current Year LTP allocation – £4.523m (cycling = £600,000) (20mph £413,000)
  • Next Year LTP allocation – £2.540m (cycling = £450,000) (20mph £400,000)

LTP funding has been diverted away to the Growth Plan Fund by central government. This fund builds large infrastructure projects designed to deliver economic growth (with no other considerations like health or environmental benefits).

An overview of the cycling projects for the past few years is below.

Project Funding 2013/14 (source) £491,000 Funding 2014/15 (source) £600,000 Funding 2015/16 (source) £450,000
Little Don Link £100,000 £50,000
Upper Don Valley £80,000 £80,000 £20,000
Blackburn Valley £85,000 £80,000 £20,000
Signs £10,000 £10,000 £40,000
Green Routes Network £20,000 £80,000 £120,000
Streets Ahead Opportunities £100,000 (later cut to £50,000) £250,000 £200,000
Connect2 £86,000
Lower Don Valley £14,000
City Centre Cycle Ring Route £100,000

*Note* This is Local transport plan spending only. Other grants such as LSTF, Better Buses, Pinch Points are not included.

Quesion: Why is funding for signage increasing 4 fold from £10,000 to £40,000 per year?

On a related note, this year sees the end of LSTF funding (and South Yorkshire seems to be  struggling to spend all the money). Next year we’ll see a new funding source from the Local Growth Fund – the ‘Sustainable Transport Exemplar Programme’ which will spend £3.3m in 2015/16 and 13.0m in the following 2 years. This is a South Yorkshire funding stream, it’s not clear how that will be divided between the local authorities, or what it will be spent on.

If we look at this year’s Sheffield LSTF capital expenditure, £360,000 is for cycling out of £2,000,000, 18%. And Sheffield’s share of LSTF overall is perhaps, I’m guessing, 50% of the South Yorkshire spend. That will add £297,000 in 2015/16 and £585,000 each year for the following years in cycling capital expenditure.

The latest I can find on this is from Dick Proctor in a September 2014 report which states that “[4.9] The majority of these new 3 years funds are being unpacked and prioritised by the SY/SCR partnership, and further reports will be brought back to the Committee as appropriate”

 

Yes to 20mph speed limits, but we need to remove through traffic too

20mph Space for cyclingThere are some nice public comments in the latest council report about new 20mph areas in Sheffield.

Fully support the proposal. My husband has a wheelchair and has difficulty crossing because of speeding traffic.

I support the proposal to place a 20mph speed limit around our neighbourhood. Children play out in the streets, and there are also lots of cyclists and to my mind it’s important to prioritise safety over speed.

The proposal should see more people walking, cycling and using active transport as a way of getting around the neighbourhood. It could also lead to more people, taking more responsibility for the general appearance of their neighbourhood and being more neighbourly in general.

It’s about time people remembered their responsibilities instead of grizzling about their rights and recognise what a privilege it is to not only travel faster than your feet can carry you; but to be able to do it sitting down. 20mph is plenty fast enough in a heavily built up, double parked area such as this.

20mph areas are part of the solution to reducing the barriers to cycling and it’s included as one of the Space for Cycling policies.

Space for cycling logo and 6 demands

 

But it’s important to remember that residential streets need 20mph limits AND removal of through traffic. Until high volume traffic is removed from residential streets (including those where 20mph speed limits are applied) people will still be at risk and too afraid to cycle in them. 

I live on a 20mph street which is used by over 10,000 vehicles per day and is definitely not a place where people feel safe enough riding bikes.

If we replace speed with ‘speed and volume’ in the council’s approach, then we get a much more robust and effective policy.

Reducing the speed [and volume] of traffic in residential areas will, in the long term, reduce the number and severity of accidents, reduce the fear of accidents, encourage sustainable modes of travel and contribute towards the creation of a more pleasant, cohesive environment.

I think that this point has been missed and forgotten, and that while our residential streets carry significant volume of traffic we won’t see the full benefits of these 20mph areas.

The council report includes a paragraph on relying on the residents of areas to make these schemes a success. This is true if the vast majority of people who drive too and from these areas are residents or visitors, but while people use these areas as major transport corridors, the needs of high volume motor traffic will continue to dominate the environment.

The key to realising substantially lower speeds on our residential roads lies in affecting a fundamental shift in attitude. The aim therefore is to build a widespread and longstanding community acceptance that 20mph is the appropriate maximum speed to travel in residential areas. Ultimately, the success or otherwise of these schemes lies primarily in the hands of the residents of this area.

Yes to 20mph speed limits, but we need to remove through traffic too.

For more information on reducing through traffic, David Hembrow has lots of information on how segregation can be achieved without building cycle-paths, and how unravelling of modes makes conditions better for cycling.

Sheffield City Council object to 60mph on M1 in opposition to official policy

Sheffield City Council’s response to the DfT consultation goes against officially stated council policy of supporting lower speed limits on the M1. Their opposition to lower speed limits cited concerns about the economic impact, public reaction, enforcement and investor perception of Sheffield.

M1MMWe have air quality problems in Sheffield. We have an air quality action plan that calls out the M1 double decker viaduct as a problem. The area around the M1 is called Tinsley and the air quality is notoriously bad and breaches EU limits for NO2 for most of the year.

The DfT decided that they’d like to add an extra lane to the motorway and a consultation was launched to find out if people think reducing the speed limit to 60mph is something we should do to offset the damage. Sheffield Council submitted a response that was summed up as.

Unitary, county and district authorities… responded with detailed comments on the proposal, but all except Nottinghamshire County Council were ultimately opposed to the proposal.

Jack Scott, cabinet member for the environment disagreed that this was the response, he said that SCC wanted lower speed limits, will continue to lobby DfT for lower speed limits and planned to write to the DfT because they had misrepresented SCCs response. These tweets have now been deleted from Jack Scott’s Twitter feed. I couldn’t agree more with his views and the council’s policy on this, they’ve got it right.

Jack ScottWrite to DfT

The Sheffield Star newspaper has covered reactions to the decision. Jack Scott is quoted as “We have been let down massively – lives are being put at risk” and Sheffield MP Clive Betts said “The Government is showing complete disregard for the health and welfare of my constituents in Tinsley.”

The Sheffield Air Quality Action Plan includes policy to support lower speed limits.

Sheffield Air Quality Action Plan on M1 Policy

Sheffield Air Quality Action Plan on M1 Policy – Available here

However Sheffield City Council’s consultation response objected to lowering speed limits.

I think it’s disgraceful that there are still people in Sheffield City Council who trade off the lives of people against the perception of Sheffield to investors.

The City Council is concerned about the economic impact on the Sheffield City Region of the reduced speed limit on the 32 mile stretch of the M1 for an indeterminable time period. The Highways Agency has not modelled or made clear what the full impact of the proposed speed limit on the [sic] will have on the surrounding road network, the local economy and the development aspirations of South Yorkshire and the Sheffield City Region.

Sheffield City Region, along with the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority (who have responded separately to this Consultation) would therefore, like the Highways Agency to further clarify and provide appropriate evidence on the potential economic impact of the Smart Motorway proposal operating at a maximum 60mph speed limit.

It is unclear how the speed limit will be enforced (and how the public will react) to ensure the claimed effect of mitigating the impact, particularly on air quality.

There is also an unresolved issue of ‘perception’ which is likely to affect the attractiveness and competitiveness of the Sheffield City Region in our desire to seek much needed inward investment. Such investment may be deterred if it is perceived that the sub-region required such onerous measures to deal with existing or likely future problems whereas others do not (in part at least through previous investment in national infrastructure).

It’s very clear that there is strong support for lower speed limits from the top of Sheffield City Council, it’s supported by cabinet members and council policy, however we need to find out why the official council response opposed lower speed limits.

Sheffield City Council’s official response to this consultation can be found here.

The Sheffield City Council Air Quality Action Plan can be found here.

 

South Yorkshire Local Sustainable Transport Fund 2015/16 – ‘Inmotion! altogether better travel’

LSTF Cycling part

The DfT have released the winning bids for the latest round of LSTF to cover 2015/16. This grant only covers revenue (ongoing costs), capital expenditure has been wrapped up in the Local Growth Fund. In South Yorkshire the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) submitted the bid along with the Passenger Transport Executive, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Total project cost of £6.325 million, with £1.479 million from local contribution and £4.811 million from the LSTF grant.

The cycling element makes up 35% of the total scheme and consists of supporting 2-3 cycle hubs in each district (presumably Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley) which will have a shop, parking, bike hire, cafe, showers, training, repairs etc. The Cycle Boost scheme looks to continue, and I think a Sheffield Sky Ride event will come from this budget.

The benefit cost ratio is calculated as 3.9 but I think most of this comes from the mass participation Sky Ride event, the stated benefits of which seem to be a little dubious!

In addition, to capitalise on the Tour de France, a mass participation event is planned for Sheffield attracting 10,000 cyclists leading to almost 500,000 car kms saved in the first year.

Part LSTF Contribution Local Contribution Total
Total LSTF Scheme £4,811,000 £1,479,000 £6,325,000
Cycling Element: Cycle Boost Hubs £1,593,597 £568,148 £2,196,205 (35%)
LSTF Cycling part

LSTF Cycle Boost Hubs

 

A note on the costs of LSTF. The local and LSTF contributions to the Cycle Boost Hubs don’t add up to the total cost, £34,000 is missing! The total LSTF project cost when adding up the schemes come to £442k less than the stated full scheme cost, where is this almost half a million pounds going?

LSTF Project Costs not adding up?

LSTF Project Costs not adding up?

On another note, transparency surrounding this application has been very poor. I had to submit an FOI request to a local authority to get a copy. It has been published on the internet, but at an unpublished url of http://www.inmotion.co.uk/lstfbid which isn’t included in the sites sitemap or linked to any news article or press release!

On yet another note, the DfT originally stated that they would provide £78.5m to LSTF projects, but only £64m has been allocated! Where is this missing £14.5m?

Institution of Civil Engineers – State of the Nation: Infrastructure 2014 – Active Travel

BnLJfhP3Today the Institution of Civil Engineers has released their State of the Nation: Infrastructure 2014 report and it calls on the UK government to embrace cycling as a mainstream travel choice. It is well worth reading the section on Local Transport Networks, it makes rather depressing reading.

Well done ICE for highlighting and supporting these issues.

Both walking and cycling have an important role in shorter trips for joining up public transport journeys, alongside associated health and well-being benefits. Traditionally most of the benefits of transport infrastructure projects have been associated with reductions in travel time; however, studies suggest that active travel should be considered as a positive aspect in infrastructure appraisals.

Walking is often neglected in transport debates yet still accounts for around one-quarter of trips and is the second most common mode of commuting. Environments that are attractive to pedestrians are often also attractive places to live, work, shop and socialise. ICE would like to see walking promoted through better streetscape management, including wider, better-lit and better-maintained pavements and public realm. There should also be a reduction in unnecessary street furniture, traffic-calming and other measures to make existing environments more pedestrian-friendly.

The UK ranks 24th in the EU for the percentage of its population cycling daily, yet cycling could make a much greater contribution to our travel. It reduces pressure on road space and the need for parking, and improves public health; but despite a relatively high public profile and encouraging words from Government, there has been much less meaningful action. ICE recommends that transport policy should embrace cycling as a mainstream travel choice and address the barriers to achieving this by:
Committing to clear national objectives and targets
Increasing funding to ensure development of high quality networks in major urban areas
Taking action to improve cycle safety and perceptions of safety

Government bans use of CCTV ‘spy cars’ for on-street parking

Use of closed circuit television spy cars on their own to enforce on-street parking made illegal.
In a victory for drivers and shoppers, the government will make it illegal to use closed circuit television (CCTV) ‘spy cars’ alone to enforce on-street parking ending the plague of parking tickets by post, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced today (21 June 2014).

gov.uk press release

We’ve been campaigning for tougher enforcement of parking offenses for a long time. Banning the use of CCTV, discounts for appeals and freezing penalty notice fees reduces our ability to protect infrastructure designed to enable people to use a bike.

Illegal parking on Asline Road cycle track

Coaches blocking Asline Road cycle track in Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police directed these coaches to park here

Illegal parking on Clarkhouse Road cycle lane

Illegal parking on Castle Street cycle lane.

Blocked - The taxi drivers use the cycle lane as an extension of the taxi rank

Blocked – The taxi drivers use the cycle lane as an extension of the taxi rank

The Sheffield Cycling Inquiry

P1050814.resizedThis will be the first in a series of posts about the Sheffield Cycling Inquiry held in 2013/14.

In 2013 CycleSheffield asked Sheffield City Council to hold a Cycling Inquiry which mirrored the process from the national All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling Inquiry. The aim was to

review what we are doing in Sheffield and what we can do better, in order to improve the opportunities for cycling

The final report is available here however I’ve started with a review of the process about how we’ve got here.

The Economic and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee started the inquiry based on some terms of reference.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling Inquiry Terms of Reference (MS Word/PDF)

In September 2013 the inquiry received reports about cycling from various parts of the council.

  • John Bann, Head of Transport, Traffic and Parking Services
  • Dawn Lockley, Health Improvement Principal, Place Public Health Team
  • Maria Duffy, Interim Head of Planning

A summary of the discussions is available on the web here.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling Inquiry Council Reports (PDF)

The inquiry asked for views from the public via a call for evidence via a webform or by writing in.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling Inquiry Call For Evidence (MS Word/PDF)

260 responses were received, they have been summarised and will be released in full in the future.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling Inquiry Written Evidence Summary (MS Word/PDF)

The council produced a document called “Cycling in Sheffield 2008 – 2013″ which outlines the various projects that have/haven’t been done for cycling in Sheffield since 2008.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling in Sheffield 2008 – 2013 (PDF)

The inquiry asked for oral evidence from a group of people including Sustrans, IAM, CycleSheffield, Stagecoach and Supertram.

They discussed these three questions:

  • ‘How do we make people feel safer cycling on roads?’
  • ‘Do we need to integrate cycling with public transport?’
  • ‘How do we get more people to cycle in Sheffield?’

And the discussions are documented on the web here.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling Inquiry Oral Evidence Report (PDF)

In February draft recommendations were presented to the comittee, who then presented them to Sheffield City Council Cabinet who have asked Leigh Bramall (Cabinet Member for Business, Skills & Development – Including transport) to provide a response in July 2014.

KEY DOCUMENT – Cycling Inquiry Final Report(PDF)

I’ve heard that the response from Leigh Bramall is on track, we’ll find out what is response is at the Cabinet Meeting in July.

Hundreds Get On Their Bikes to Demand #Space4Cycling in Sheffield

CycleSheffield #space4cycling ride - Photo credit: @geckobike

CycleSheffield #space4cycling ride – Photo credit: @geckobike

Hundreds of people turned out for The Sheffield Space for Cycling Big Ride on Saturday. Over 240 people, young and old alike joined in to call for Space for Cycling.

Hundreds of people came to the #space4cycling ride

Hundreds of people came to the #space4cycling ride

People decorated their bikes, towed trailers, played music and came with their children.

 

#space4cycling - Freedom for families in Sheffield

#space4cycling – Freedom for families in Sheffield

Matt's #space4cycling bike trailer with in built sound system

Matt’s #space4cycling bike trailer with in built sound system

Emma Metcalfe from CycleSheffield said “The weather was glorious, and the atmosphere relaxed and happy, with smiling faces as people rode to a soundtrack of music and the ringing of bicycle bells. I think everyone really enjoyed the opportunity to cycle safely with their families“

Emma Metcalfe in her #space4cycling head-dress. Celebrating after the ride with a pint of Coke. Credit - Paul Truin

Emma Metcalfe in her #space4cycling head-dress. Celebrating after the ride with a pint of Coke. Photo Credit – Paul Truin

Riders were answering Cycle Sheffield’s rallying call to demonstrate their hunger to see Sheffield become a cycling city, where riding a bike is safe and accessible for everyone, and for Sheffield’s councillors to commit to making space for cycling. The day was full of personal stories. One lady said that she didn’t own a bike because she was too scared to ride on the road on her own, but had heard about the campaign and borrowed a bike especially to join in! One of the smallest riders wore a poignant placard saying ‘I want to cycle safely in Sheffield’.

"I want to cycle safely in Sheffield" - Photo credit Lucy Harper

“I want to ride safely in Sheffield” – Photo credit Lucy Harper

The Space for Cycling campaign calls for protected space for cyclists on main roads and through junctions, improved conditions on residential roads through reducing through motor traffic & ‘rat running’, safe segregated routes in the city centre & beyond, and for all Sheffield children to be able to cycle to school along safe routes.

#space4cycling so that everyone has the freedom to ride a bike in Sheffield

#space4cycling so that everyone has the freedom to ride a bike in Sheffield

Mick Nott, Chair of Cycle Sheffield says “Our Big Ride may well be the biggest bike ride in Sheffield this year and it will certainly be the happiest! For 240 people to turn up and have a joyful time riding through our city together sends a message to councillors that cycling is something that many more people would do if they felt the roads were designed and built better and space and transport planning put the needs of vulnerable road users first.”

“We received so much support from people on the streets and in cars and buses that it shows that cycling in Sheffield will be popular. This is our mandate to say that Sheffielders want Sheffield to be a cycling city NOW; so, Sheffield City Council just do it! The campaign goes on, so join us!”

#space4cycling Sheffield , Sharrow Vale Road

#space4cycling Sheffield , Sharrow Vale Road

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