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 TrafficOne 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.

http://www.edra.org/sites/default/files/publications/EDRA03-Appleyard-11-2_0.pdf

http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/15513/1/WTPP_Hart_ParkhurstJan2011prepub.pdf

The latest on 20mph in Sheffield, Hackenthorpe, not outside Rainbow Forge Primary School where over 50% of traffic already breaks the 30mph speed limit

20mph Space for cyclingA 20mph area has been proposed for Hackenthorpe in Sheffield and the final decision on it was taken a couple of weeks ago. Local councillors, presumably responding to discussions with residents, asked for the speed limits of two main roads in the area to be included.

Sheffield Road and Beighton Road, one of two through routes that divide the area (the other being Birley Spa Lane) were originally omitted from the potential 20mph area. Local ward members felt that residents should be consulted on their inclusion. A further letter was delivered to all properties in the area explaining this additional proposal.

rainbow forgeRainbow Forge Primary School has their main entrance on Beighton Road, 71% of pupils walk to school. They say that there have been “numerous near misses or minor accidents” and that “the speed of drivers is usually the cause.” The school identified that the speeds of motor traffic outside their school causes parental anxiety, reduces safety and prevents more people from walking to school.

The primary school supported the 20mph limit outside their school.

As a school with a main entrance on to Beighton Road, we fully support the proposed 20mph speed limit. The road is a bus route and is very busy at peak hour times. Our parents park on the road as we have no parking area, so this adds to the congestion during school drop off and pick up. During this time there have been numerous near misses or minor accidents and the speed of drivers is usually the cause.

Not only are parents trying to safely help their children in and out of the parked cars, we also have a number of families and older children who walk along the road, or who need to cross the road on their journey home. Our most recent ‘travel to school survey’ (January 2012) showed that the vast majority of our pupils (71%) walk to school. A lower speed limit, both on Beighton Road and in the wider Hackenthorpe area, would make this journey safer for our children and families, reducing anxiety for parents and help to ensure that no one is injured. We hope that this will help encourage more pupils and parents to walk to school in future.

Head Teacher, Rainbow Forge Primary School

southyorkshire police crestHowever, South Yorkshire Police didn’t support the proposals. They said that “[vehicle] speeds on Beighton Road and Sheffield Road do not fall within the DFT recommended guidelines of 24mph. In fact all three sets old data show that well over 50% of vehicles exceed the current 30mph speed limit on this road with the 85th %ile travelling 37mph/38mph.” The officer writing the response said that when he visited the site “The speed of the vehicle in front going uphill from Moss Way was in the region of 32 to 35mph. However, vehicles travelling down the bottom section towards Moss Way were in excess of 50mph.”

South Yorkshire Police submitted a formal objection to a 20mph speed limit on the two main roads included in the plans (included because residents and local councillors asked for them).

[Available speed data] shows that the speeds on Beighton Road and Sheffield Road do not fall within the DFT recommended guidelines of 24mph. In fact all three sets old data show that well over 50% of vehicles exceed the current 30mph speed limit on this road with the 85th %ile travelling 37mph/38mph.

There is obviously a long term issue with speed on this road. I also noticed that there is a vehicle activated sign on Beighton Road, which would confirm this. Within the guidance for setting local speed limits, it does state that where there is poor compliance with an existing speed limit on a road, or stretch of road, the reason for the non-compliance should be examined before a solution sought.

I visited the site last week and followed vehicles travelling up and down the road. The speed of the vehicle in front going uphill from Moss Way was in the region of 32 to 35mph. However, vehicles travelling down the bottom section towards Moss Way were in excess of 50mph. I would say, that the road layout on this bottom section of Beighton Road did not make this speed feel uncomfortable at that time.

As this proposed extension to the 20mph zone is unlikely to be self-enforcing without some major engineering works, and does not fall anywhere near the DFT recommended guidelines of 24mph, and that to achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their routine activity. I feel that we must formally object to this section of Sheffield Road and Beighton Road being included within the 20mph zone.

South Yorkshire Police

The council say that “people contacting the council to express a view regarding the proposals for Sheffield Road and Beighton Road have generally been supportive” of the ideas. However they say that “[council] officers share the concerns of the police and objectors regarding its inclusion within the 20mph speed limit area”.

Whilst acknowledging that people contacting the council to express a view regarding the proposals for Sheffield Road and Beighton Road have generally been supportive, officers share the concerns of the police and objectors regarding its inclusion within the 20mph speed limit area.

Sheffield City Council

There’s a lot of discussion in the report about why the officers are concerned, these include DfT guidance, talking to other local authorities, and the need for speed limits to be realistic, for speed to be reduced to an acceptable level, ‘complementary traffic calming measures’ would be needed, and there is no funding for this.

In the absence of funding for complementary traffic calming measures a 20mph limit would be artificially low and likely to result in excessive abuse and bring 20mph limits in general into disrepute the existing speeds.

Sheffield City Council

However, an alternative option is considered, and that is to provide an advisory, part time, 20mph speed limit. An advisory speed limit!

school 20mphWhilst officers cannot recommend the introduction of a 20mph speed limit along the full length of Sheffield Road and Beighton Road, improving the safety of school children remains one of the key objectives of the Sheffield 20mph Speed Limit Strategy. The Strategy expressly provides for the introduction of a localised, part-time speed limit around the entrance to a school that is located on a road that is otherwise unsuitable for a 20mph speed limit. This is the approach that officers recommend – the introduction of a part time, advisory 20mph speed limit centred around the entrance to Rainbow Forge Primary School as shown in Appendix C

Sheffield City Council

It’s clear to me that there are problems with our approach to traffic safety on main roads.

Local residents know that something is wrong and want change. We have funding to provide 20mph speed limits, but these will only be placed where average speeds are less than 24mph. We will provide advisory speed limit signs where speeds are too high, but it’s not clear to me what benefit an advisory speed limit will provide if people can ignore it.

For main roads we need to provide physical traffic calming measures, but the funding isn’t there for these. And we have key destinations (schools, shops, workplaces) positioned along these main roads that people have to get to, and won’t be moved in a hurry.

It’s a chicken and egg scenario. The trouble of living somewhere where more cars leads to more fear, which leads to more cars. And not being able to do anything about it.

The report I’ve been quoting from is here.

Sheffield Public Health Report 2014 – Climate Change and Health

Climate Change and HealthThe annual Sheffield public health report has been published and this year the focus is on Climate Change. All of the topics in the report impact both public heath and climate change.

Climate change is the defining public health issue of this century.

I’m very happy that such an important issue is right at the top of the public health agenda in Sheffield.

There are however links between present public health problems and the kind of steps we have to take to tackle climate change. Many of the things we need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will benefit our health in the short term, too. We describe some of those things.

This is quite a good video of Dr Jeremy Wight explaining his annual health report.

As we know all too well, many the things that will help with climate change will help with more short term public health problems and Jeremy Wight sums this up very succinctly.

Active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport increases physical activity and social connections, improves physical and mental health, helps people stick to a healthy weight, and reduces harmful air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The recommendations focusing on active travel are right at the top of the list.

  1. The Council should develop and implement a programme of signposting walking routes with the time it takes to reach the destination.
  2. Sheffield people should consider traveling short distances on foot or by bicycle rather than by car, and sign up to ‘Move More’ at www.movemoresheffield.com.
  3. The Council should commit to increasing the number of 20 mph zones within the City as quickly as possible.

I don’t think that the reports recommendations for active travel will bring about a big enough shift on their own, there seems to be a focus on encouraging (signposing walking routes, people should consider travelling short distances on foot or by bicycle) rather than creating an environment where this is normal and designed in everywhere so that walking and cycling are real choices.

I wish that the recommendations in this report were more robust and pushed us to change the way we design our streets. We’ve seen examples in Sheffield recently where the walking and cycling environment has been eroded to increase capacity and reduce delay to motor traffic. Until we improve the environment, the encouragement will be wasted and we’ll only reach small numbers of people willing to cycling in today’s uninviting and hostile conditions, the low hanging fruit.

However, judging by the response I’ve heard Dr Jeremy Wight got at the council meeting where this was presented, he’s going to need all the support he can get!

His presentation drew an extraordinarily negative response from Labour and Lib Dem councillors, from which there is much to learn. [source]

The discussion also revealed that the chair of the Sheffield Council Cycle Forum, Peter Price, isn’t convinced about climate change being caused by carbon dioxide emissions!

One Labour councillor admitted to being a climate change sceptic (he believes CO2 emissions are due to global warming, not vice versa); [source]

We have the 20mph recommendation which should help to slow down traffic on our streets. Sheffield is very keen on 20mph areas and 11 more areas are planned for the coming year (10Mb pdf map). I’m still nervous that 20mph as we’re rolling it out will have as big an impact as we’re hoping, I think that it needs to be accompanied by a reduction in traffic volumes too, the benefits are amplified when the volume of traffic is reduced. There seems to be a slow realisation that there are problems with our main roads (which haven’t historically been included in 20mph areas) and we’re beginning to see ‘advisory part time 20mph limits’, a top for another post.

Whilst improved road safety alone justifies 20 mph limits, air pollution and traffic noise drop when speed is reduced and streets become more pleasant and attractive places. Increased use of shared public space contributes to an increase in social capital.

Link to the Sheffield Public Health Report 2014.

Edit 07/01/2015

The Star have reported today that Dr Jeremy Wight is resigning.

Edit 27/01/2015

The Shields Gazette has published an interview with Jeremy Wight discussing some of this. he says that “it’s absolutely not true that that [response to his report] has contributed to my decision to leave”.

Dr Wight recently presented his annual report to Sheffield councillors.

Some suggested he was given a bit of a rough ride for choosing to focus on climate change in his report. He said: “Last year, for 2014, I made the theme of my report climate change and health.

“I think that if you look at what the big health issues are going to be for the rest of this century, I think climate change is number one.

“If the predictions about climate change come true, it affects every aspect of our ability to lead healthy lives, including food production and water supply.

“People have made some very, very grim forecasts. The reason I chose to focus on it is because there are things that we can do now that will help to mitigate the impact of global warming.

“For example, fitting better insulation in your home. If people used more physically active transport, that is good for people’s health and reduces emissions.

The response to his report was not the reason he chose to leave.

He said: “I think the response was that there are a lot more pressing problems now like the impact of welfare reforms. But it’s absolutely not true that that has contributed to my decision to leave.

The Shields Gazette, 19th January