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.



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

Off to the new supermarket; by bike?

The new Sainsburys opened this week in Hillsborough near where I live in Sheffield. I thought I’d cycle there, film it and do some commentary.

It’s almost comical just how bad this journey is by bicycle.

As the planner/engineer said in the council meeting where the highway design was approved, “No one’s going to cycle to the supermarket. Absolutely right, when the environment is this bad for cycling, no-one in their right mind would.

Does Sheffield Council have what it takes to create Space for Cycling?

Space for cycling logo and 6 demands5th December Update: This motion was amended by Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development and the amended version was subsequently passed. See below for updates

Councillor Sarah Jane Smalley, who supports the Space for Cycling campaign and joined the Space for Cycling ride in May, has put a motion to the Sheffield City Council meeting next week which covers in some detail the barriers to creating Space for Cycling in Sheffield and calling on councillors so support the Space for Cycling campaign.

Last week CTC revealed that Sheffield doesn’t have the level support in its councillors for Space for Cycling as any of the other core cities, it’s ranked at the bottom when looking at councillor support rates. This motion calls on Councillors in Sheffield to turn that around and sign up to the campaign.

The motion also shows that when the core cities are ranked by capital spending, Sheffield falls well short of many of the Core Cities, simply because we did not apply for the Cycle City Ambition Grant last year, we were the only core city to not submit a bid. These grants take funding to over £10/head/year for two years, in Sheffield we spend far less.

Sarah Jane attended the Sheffield Council Forum last week and asked some questions about the cycling inquiry, I didn’t think that the answers she got were very reassuring. The cycle champion, Tim Rippon wasn’t their either so couldn’t provide any reassurance.

This motion is detailed and covers succinctly some of the key barriers to making Sheffield a place where anyone can ride a bike; funding, political support, planning, attendance of meetings, DfT consultation, engineer training and design guidance.

What can you do to help? You can write to your councillor, tell them you think they should support Space for Cycling, and ask them to support the motion at next weeks meeting. It will only take 2 minutes. You can find out if your councillor has already signed up here.

That this Council:-
(a)       affirms its commitment to Sheffield City Council’s Vision for Excellent Transport in Sheffield:We need to change the culture of how we use our roads, so that people are no longer afraid to cycle or allow their children to do so.  Our streets, roads and local communities need to become places for people, where cycling and walking are safe and normal;

(b)       regrets that only 11% of Sheffield City Councillors have signed up to support the Space for Cycling campaign, making Sheffield the lowest ranked of eight major English cities committing to space for cycling, as per the recent report from the national cycling charity CTC;

(c)        notes that other core cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, spend in excess of £10.00 per head on capital funding for cycling including Highways, as they were successful in winning Cycle City Ambition Grants, which Sheffield City Council decided not to bid for;

(d)       regrets that Sheffield City Council spends only £1.89 per head on capital funding for cycling, including Highways, which is significantly lower than the £10.00 per head recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s report;

(e)       commits to responding positively to the Government’s Cycling Delivery Plan (expected early December) which invites local authorities to submit expressions of interest in partnering with the Government to deliver ambitious growth in cycle use;

(f)        welcomes feedback from Cycle Sheffield, CTC and individuals heralding Sheffield City Council’s Cycle Inquiry as a good practice example of capturing evidence, input and expertise;

(g)       is concerned that policy agreement is not turning into action, as demonstrated by slippage against the recommendations and delivery milestones agreed by the Cabinet in July 2014 relating to the Cycling Inquiry Report as follows:

(i)         the Sheffield Cycle Group with Cycle Sheffield and in consultation with partners and the public, and/or a cross-departmental Council working group chaired by Transport Planning consulting with partners has not been established;

(ii)        the drawing up of the revised Sheffield Cycle Action Plan, plan of the strategic cycling network and delivery plan by the groups in paragraph (g)(i) above was timetabled to take place Sept-Nov 2014 but haven’t been carried out, making ……

(iii)       ….. consultation on the Cycling Action Plan and Delivery Plan and Consultation on Network Plan due in January 2015, with approval April – June 2015 unlikely, based on current performance;

(h)       is further concerned that some recommendations from the report have not been carried out in earnest, or in full consultation with partners, organisations and others as per the report’s commitment, indicated by the following:

(i)         the Cycling Champions have not regularly attended Cycle Forum meetings or established regular diarised meetings with partners such as Cycle Sheffield or CTC to ensure that the recommendations from the report are being progressed;

(ii)        the Council did not seek input to any response to the DfT consultation on Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2015 (TSGRD) despite commitment to helping to encourage and enable cycling through DfT regulation on allowing separate traffic lights for cycling;

(iii)       whilst a Cycle Audit process has been developed and is being applied to all new highway schemes, it includes no scale or metrics and therefore carries negligible weight; this is despite recommendations at Cycle Forum for a more stringent procedure and existing good practice which has been developed and could be easily replicated, for example from the London Cycle Design Standards and/or Welsh Active Travel Bill Guidance;

(iv)       Highways Engineers have not received any Continuous Professional Development/Workplace Development to ensure that they can bring the new Transport Vision into reality in relation to Cycle Design;

(i)         therefore urges the Administration to establish the Sheffield Cycle Group as per its commitment;

(j)         further urges the responsible Cabinet Member to ensure that progress against the Cycling Inquiry recommendations and Delivery Milestones is made publicly available on at least a bi-monthly basis, and which will include the communication of recommended actions and actions taken to remedy slippages;

(k)        calls for Highways guidance to be amended to ensure that the Transport Vision in paragraph (a) above is considered and relevant action taken from a pre-planning stage;

(l)         requests that all Highways Engineers receive Cycle Design Training, so that this is properly considered from a pre-planning stage; as an example, Sustrans offers such training, endorsed and certified by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation;

(m)      notes the publication of the document “Making Space for Cycling; A guide for new developments and street renewals”, published by Cyclenation and supported by Bike Hub, CTC, British Cycling, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, London Cycling Campaign, CPRE and Cambridge Cycling Campaign, and commits to promoting its active use in Highways planning; and

(n)       encourages Members to sign up to support the CTC Space for Cycling campaign, in addition to supporting this Motion.

5th December Update

The full council meeting took place a couple of days ago, Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development proposed an amendment that deleted the entire motion and replaced it with some new text.

When I asked, “Does Sheffield Council have what it takes to create Space for Cycling?”, we now know that the answer is a firm no.

  1. Amendment to be moved by Councillor Leigh Bramall, seconded by Councillor Cate McDonald

             That the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of all the words after the words “That this Council” and the addition of the following words therefor:-

(a)       confirms the present Administration’s commitment to significantly increasing the numbers of people cycling in Sheffield;

(b)       notes the Get Britain Cycling report that put forward a series of recommendations to increase cycling provision in Britain;

(c)        further notes that Sheffield was unique among the big cities in setting up an all-party Cycling Inquiry, working with Cycle Sheffield, to consider how the issues set out in the Get Britain Cycling report should be taken forward and implemented in Sheffield, and confirms that all 18 recommendations from the report were signed up to by the current Administration, with a full report due in summer 2015 to set a timetable and pathway as to how each recommendation will be implemented;

(d)       notes that the Cycling Inquiry does not sit in isolation but instead builds upon actions already underway to boost cycling including:

A commitment – ahead of many other cities – to progressively roll out 20mph areas to cover the whole city;

  • A continued commitment to the Cycle Boost scheme, which has now more than doubled the number of people cycling to work;
  • Investment in new cycle routes across the city;
  • Supporting the development of a new Cycle Hub at Sheffield train station and ongoing work to develop further hubs in the south of the city and at Meadowhall;
  • Installation of new bike pumps for public use around the city centre; and
  • Support for the Tour de France coming to the city; and

(e)          given this record and commitment to an increased focus on cycling, therefore regrets that  such a simplistic mechanism as the number of Councillors who have signed up to the Space for Cycling campaign has been used as a barometer for the city’s record on cycling.


Why I don’t trust Sheffield Council on transport, and why you shouldn’t either

Never ever believe anything from Sheffield City Council without double checking the facts and confirming it for yourself.

Case in point, the Penistone Road Pinchpoints scheme. We’ve been lead to believe that funding was restricted to reducing congestion for motor transport and could not be spent on cycling or walking. This is not true and these statements were extremely misleading.

The motor centric nature of transport planning in Sheffield is deeply entrenched and needs to be challenged at every opportunity.

Department For Transport Pinch Points Fund Guidance

Investment need not be restricted to roads and can include investment in cycling and bus infrastructure to help reduce congestion on road networks and/or demonstrate the links to growth.

Quotes from Sheffield City Council

John Bann responded that he took on board all the points raised in relation to cycling and pedestrian facilities. The scheme was possible because of funding from the Government specifically targeted at easing congestion through easing the traffic flow and helping bus services.

John Bahn – Sheffield City Council

I think it must be remembered that this scheme is being largely funded from the Government’s ‘Pinchpoint’ programme, which as the name implies is aimed at relieving localised congestion. In this regard there are some benefits for private vehicle users but really only in terms of better capacity at junctions, not in terms of additional lanes or higher priorities… For the above reasons it is fair to say that the funding is not specifically for cyclists and pedestrians but we do feel that we have managed to incorporate major benefits for both these user groups…

In summary although the ‘Pinchpoint’ and ‘Better Buses’ schemes both look specifically to tackling issues relating to ‘motorised’ forms of transport on the Penistone Road corridor

Andrew Marwood – Sheffield City Council

Councillor Leigh Bramall commented that part of the problem in relation to the objections raised was around the way that the funding came through and what the Government required it to be used for. Improving bus times and viability was a crucial element to the scheme as, after the Parkway, this was the major traffic corridor into the City.

Councillor Leigh Bramall – Sheffield City Council

It isn’t the perfect cycle orientated scheme but it was never going to be-the funding restrictions saw to that for a start.

Councillor George Lindars-Hammond – Sheffield City Council

Sheffield, Penistone Road. Abandoning plans for a safer crossing

Next week Leigh Bramall is due to make a decision on whether to compromise a cycling route. He has two options.

Option 1 – Go with the original plans, ban a left turn into a side road and improve crossing the side road for cycling and walking. A toucan crossing is introduced which will be green approx 75% of the time (estimated)

Option 2 – Abandon the original plans, leave the manoeuvre permitted, permit vehicles to turn into the junction 100% of the time in direct conflict with people crossing on bike and foot. Don’t provide a toucan crossing and make the central island a bit bigger instead.

So, we can either give people who walk or bike a green signal 75% of the time with no delay and no conflicting movements. Or we could just say “forget them”, and not put in a crossing at all and allow conflicting turning movements 100% of the time.


There's a crossing underneath there somewhere.

There’s a crossing underneath there somewhere.

No need for crossing signals?

No need for crossing signals?

The officers at the council are recommending abandoning the plans because it will delay traffic too much and businesses think people need to be able to drive everywhere using the shortest route! Surprise surprise!

The prohibition would enable the road layout to be amended so that a pedestrian and cyclist demand-stage could be incorporated into the traffic signals phasing without adversely affecting the main A61 corridor. It would also mean, however, that traffic travelling to businesses on Herries Road South, or wishing to travel back north via Herries Road South and Herries Road, would have to travel a longer and arguably more tortuous route.

Without the prohibition the road layout could not be appropriately changed to incorporate an additional demand-stage without adding a signal stage, which would have a negative effect on the operation of the traffic signals. This would lead to estimated increases in journey times of up to an additional 56 second per vehicle.

Sheffield City Council Report

This junction is on a route designated by our statutory local plan as a cycling route to be improved and yet council officers are recommending compromising the safety and convenience of anyone using it on a bike. Why do we even have to campaign on a route that is designated as such in the local plan!?

I suspect when I object that I’ll be greeted with the usual response that this schemes is all about reducing motor vehicle congestion…

Apparently it is funded by the Government’s Pinch point fund which specifically for tackling motor vehicle congestion not for cycling provision. If cycling had been included we would not have secured the funding.

Janet Bragg – My local councillor

I think it must be remembered that this scheme is being largely funded from the Government’s ‘Pinchpoint’ programme, which as the name implies is aimed at relieving localised congestion.

Sheffield Council Officer

How is this fair? Providing signalised junctions for motor traffic, but neglecting to do so for anyone on foot or on a bike? Why does motor traffic get to have a traffic light phase but other users don’t, they’re just being abandoned at the place where they need protection the most, at busy junctions!

Leigh, if you approve this, then you might as well tear up your transport policy, your cycling policy and your planning policy. You’re sending out a very clear message that cycling is not important and that Sheffield Council simply don’t give a damn about anyone not in a car.

Update 20th March 2015: A couple of months ago now I attended a meeting with Leigh and a few engineers where it was explained that there would not be a signalised crossing put in place here. They think that by banning the left turn, it would be too hard to drive to adjacent properties and a £200,000 roundbout would need to be installed at a location a little bit further up the road to mitigate. And they think that by putting in an on-demand push button crossing that this would cause excessive delay and congestion and tailbacks.

So, the decision has been made to not put a signalised pedestrian/bike crossing here.

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.





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.