Monthly Archives: September 2013

Removed – Sheffield’s most dangerous cycle facility

About a year ago I highlighted a problem with a new cycle facility in Sheffield. A cycle lane which allows cyclists to turn right at a normally left turn only junction.

This video shows the problem, there just isn’t enough space for a large vehicle and a bicycle to use each lane at the same time.

Scheme Layout - Cropped and Shaded

Scheme Layout – Cropped and Shaded

This junction was subject to a safety review which found that this part of the design wasn’t safe an needed to be changed. The outcome of this was to change the layout and this finally happened in the past month.

P1090119The chosen solution has been to remove the cycle lane approaching the junction.

P1090102

The junction is safer now, but the opportunity has been missed to really improve this junction. There is enough space in the road to narrow the opposing carriageway and move the cycle lane further out – this was an option presented in the road safety audit.

Ideally move the cycle lane northwards so that it enters the island more centrally (i.e. where the current nib of the island is) so that a turning bus does not encroach into it.

But an alternative was offered.

remove all of the on-carriageway parts of the cycle lane altogether but retain the cycle lane through the island

This is the solution that was chosen. If a cycle facility in Sheffield is dangerous, it gets removed rather than fixed.

Of course, there are much better solutions for right turning bicycles. We could have created a segregated cycle track on the inside of the traffic, controlled it via a traffic light and routed bicycle across the junction at the same time as the pedestrian phase. This removes the need to move into the centre of the road to make the right turn. Examples from The Netherlands from Bicycle Dutch are here and here.

Urban Cycling Guide DVD – Unintentionally highlighting problems with UK city roads

Leeds City Council have commissioned and created a DVD called the ‘Urban Cycling Guide’. You can watch some parts on their YouTube channel.

Urban Cycling Guide DVD

Urban Cycling Guide DVD

It covers how to cycle in a busy urban environment, covering common scenarios like roundabouts, multi lane roads, dual carriageways, side roads, cycle lanes, advanced stop lines and gyratories.

It has been filmed on the roads of Leeds, York and Sheffield by two cyclists with video cameras showing multiple angles. It seems like a very good way to teach good cycling technique. I’d recommend watching it, you’ll certainly get something out of it if you cycle on roads like these.

But the film highlighted to me the problems with cycling on the roads of these three Northern cities.

A frame from the Urban Cycling Guide DVD - You have to make your own space here

A frame from the Urban Cycling Guide DVD – You have to make your own space here

Roads in our country, and especially in cities, have all too often been designed with one objective; carrying high volume, high speed motor vehicle traffic. They’ve been transformed over the past half century from places where people live, work and play to places where the motor vehicle dominates to the detriment of all other uses (walking, cycling & public transport; children, adults &  elderly; playing, socialising & liveability).

To ride a bicycle safely on these roads (the roads in this DVD) you need to use vehicular cycling techniques, be constantly vigilant and take an assertive road position.

This mother and child would be excluded from the roads in this DVD

This mother and child would be excluded from the roads in this DVD – From http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk

Cycling on these roads is intimidating and therefore those that brave them are predominantly young assertive fast male cyclists. Cycling on UK roads is not inclusive (families, children, elderly) and this must change if cycling is ever to be a realistic choice of transport for most people. The priorities we use when designing our roads needs to fundamentally change. The conflicts between road users need to be dealt with and resolved though better design, if we ignore these conflicts people will be pushed off of the streets through fear, forced into cars, increasing inequality, reducing health and harming the environment.

I fully support campaigns like Love London, Go Dutch, the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain and David Hembrow’s Campaign for Childhood Freedom which push for a fundamental shift in our priorities.

We need to radically rethink the way we think about our streets and design our roads. Cycling will never ever be accessible to all if vehicular cycling on hostile roads is the only way to get around.

As CEoGB says at the top of their webpage, “Cycling for the Rest of Us”.

National Cycle Network 627 under threat from industrial development

We need to protect existing cycle routes from industrial development and increasing traffic levels if they are to stay safe and be successful. Problems with planning on the Sheaf Valley route have recently come to light, NCN627 could be the next cycle route under threat from conflicting planning policies. Big investment in Peak District National Parks cycling funding could be wasted if we get this wrong.

Clay Wheels Lane and Beeley Wood Lane form part of the National Cycle Network route 627.


View Larger Map

The Clay Wheels Lane section is a key link in a longer route included in the recent Peak District National Park cycle funding bid, the “Little Don Link”

Little Don Link

The section through Clay Wheels Lane is earmarked for industrial development. There is already a new Sainbury’s Supermarket which provides sub-standard cycle facilities and there is an application to double the size of a local recycling depot (13/02199/FUL) which will double of the number of HGVs to the site which use the National Cycle Network road.

The local plan proposals map show this whole area is a priority industrial development site, the lilac colour indicates a “Business Industrial Area”.

Clay Wheels Lane

Sites P00258, P00241 and P00259 are priority sites identified for development of “research and development, light industry and general industry” businesses. Link to online map. These sites are right next to the National Cycle Network.

The map does show that Beeley Wood Road/Clay Wheels Lane cycling route needs improvement however we need to significantly improve upon the standards demonstrated in recent local developments to offset the harm from increased industrial development.

The Sheffield Planning Core Strategy includes a policy actively promoting this area for industrial and business uses as well as increasing volumes of traffic by building a new bridge across the river Don from Middlewood Road.

Policy CS10 – Business and Industry in the Upper Don Valley
Employment uses will be maintained and promoted in the Wadsley Bridge areas, including improvements to access and the local environment.
Industrial and business uses will be promoted in the Upper Don Valley with significant access improvements including bridging the River Don from Middlewood Road.

A bridge over the River Don from Middlewood Road would greatly improve the presently poor access, open up jobs to people living in Stocksbridge and also help to relieve congestion in other parts of the Valley.
Sheffield Planning Core Strategy

We should push for improvements to this section of the route before more development to keep cycling safe and safeguard this National Cycle Network route.

Will my MP [David Blunkett] attend today’s cycling debate?

I doubt it

David_Blunkett_-8April2010

Early in August I wrote to my local MP David Blunkett asking him to attend today’s debate on cycling in the House of Commons,

I never received a reply. [update – a reply was sent by letter but I’ve been advised that it must have been lost, David is not able to attend]

The least we should expect from our MPs is representation in the House of Commons.

I signed the petition calling for this debate and I expect my representative in Parliament to attend.

Which Sheffield MPs will be attending today’s debate?

David Blunkett: Not attending

Paul Blomfield: Confirmed, yes

Nick Clegg: Unknown

Meg Nunn: Perhaps – if she has time!

Clive Betts: Unknown

Angela Smith: Unknown