Category Archives: infrastructure

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

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

South Yorkshire Police repeatedly parking coaches on segregated cycle track on Asline Road in Sheffield

If you feel strongly about this, please join me in taking direct action as part of a protest on 22nd March. Facebook event here.

When a football match takes place in Sheffield at Bramall Lane, coaches carrying fans need somewhere to park. This task is managed by South Yorkshire Police who direct them to park along Asline Road cycle track. This is part of the Sheaf Valley Route and is one of the few safe ways to avoid cycling along the terrifying Queens Road or London Road.

Coaches blocking Asline Road cycle track in Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police directed these coaches to park here

Chris Rust has written about the issue on his blog here as well as CycleSheffield pressuring both Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police without much progress. South Yorkshire Police don’t have a very good reputation for respecting cycle infrastructure.

South Yorkshire Police need to stop directing coaches to park on Asline Road cycle track.

Official Twitter feeds have stated that the cycle track subject to a road closure order (it is not), and that they will try to park the coaches somewhere else (they haven’t) and that it is for public safety (presumably excluding people on bikes).

 

 

Whoever posts on this Twitter account on behalf of South Yorkshire Police needs to stop talking rubbish and making stuff up!

 

The Inspector with responsibility for the South Yorkshire Police Operational Planning Unit has written to me about this. You can write to him too, he’s on Twitter.

the twitter feed you refer to was an error of understanding in terms of the road closure order, this does not actually cover Alsine[sic] Road. You are quite right to point out that the parking of the coaches in that location is inappropriate.

Parking of coaches on Asline Road has been custom and practice for many years however I appreciate that this doesn’t make it right to block the cycle path. As a result of recent contacts I am aware that some of my team have been working with Sheffield United to resolve this issue and I have been seeking the considerations of the safety advisory group.

I will be able to update you further in the near future but for now please be assured that we are working on this and will seek a solution that does not compromise the cycle path.

Neil Mutch – South Yorkshire Police (my emphasis)

This letter was back on the 6th Feb. One month on, the police are still directing visiting coaches to park on Asline Road cycle track. This video shows that the coaches are given a police motorbike escort from the football ground to the cycle track.

So, my question to Neil Mutch, Operational Planning Unit Inspector, when will your operational plans comply with the law and stop endangering people who ride bikes?

Sheffield City Council have the responsibility for enforcing parking, will Sheffield City Council stand up to South Yorkshire Police and issue parking tickets to dangerously/illegally parked vehicles? Do they have the guts to ask them to stop abusing Sheffield’s cycle infrastructure? Will they ask South Yorkshire Police to behave responsibly?

I doubt South Yorkshire Police will change their ways any time soon, or that Sheffield City Council will step up to the mark and prevent South Yorkshire Police from breaking the law. If the authorities won’t act then we must take a stand. This weekend – Saturday 22nd March – we will protest against the abuse of Asline Road cycle track. The cycle track will be occupied by cyclists and will not be available for parking coaches. We will ensure that it remains open for people to cycle on. It’s insane that these extreme measures are necessary to ensure that a cycle track remains unobstructed, but it seems that this is all we have left.

If you wish to join me and take a stand then join the Facebook event here

Sheffield A61 Junction Redesign – Provision for bicycles to be considered last

P1050814.resizedDuring the past week Sheffield City Council have approved outline designs for the Leppings Lane junction on the A61 in Hillsborough, Sheffield to reduce congestion due to extra traffic using a new Sainsburys supermarket. The design was due to be fully approved however issues raised by CycleSheffield meant that the Cabinet Member making the decision was not happy with the provision for bicycle traffic.

http://meetings.sheffield.gov.uk/council-meetings/highway-cabinet-member-decision-sessions/agendas-2013/agenda-9-may-2013

The design was however approved “in principle” and the council have offered “a future meeting to look into the cyclists’ concerns”.

I’m pleased that our concerns resonated with the decision makers however I’m concerned with the attitude that an adequate solution can be found at the very end of the design process after the main highway design is complete and approved.

Outline Highway Drawings

Outline Highway Drawings

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When is a cycle lane not a cycle lane?

Are these cycle lanes?

Lane 1.resized.jpg

Lane 2.resized.jpg

Lane 3.resized.jpg

 

Perhaps the cycle route signs give an obvious answer?

 

Off road to on road.resized.jpg

Off road to on road 2.resized.jpg
 

 

If you think they are cycle lanes then you’d be wrong. These are not cycle lanes.. These ‘lanes’ actually indicate areas of danger according to information presented to the Sheffield City Council Cycle Forum.

As part of the Supertram project, red surfacing and white lines were introduced to indicate to drivers how to avoid the tram tracks and to guide them onto a conventional surface.

This has created a problem for cyclists, given a perception that cycle lanes are often coloured red, and therefore with many believing that the nearside red surfacing adjacent to the tram tracks is a cycle lane. Cyclists are then presented with tram stops where the platforms extend into the ‘road’ and the ‘cycle lane’ disappears. Cyclists then find themselves crossing the tram tracks at a narrow angle and slipping into the rails, or find themselves ‘forced out’ often into faster moving traffic. There have been a number of injuries, some serious, as a result.

Sheffield Cycle Forum notes – 19th March 2013

Use these ‘cycle lanes’ at your own risk. They will end suddenly and force you to cross tram lines at a dangerous angle.

Lane ends.resized.jpg

These road marking will soon be replaced by hatched markings. Hopefully less misleading for anyone who use these routes.

Replace the red surfacing and white line (the ‘cycle lane’) at the nearside with a solid white line and hatching for 5m to 10m. The hatching then ceases and the white line continues, solid or broken as appropriate. At side roads the process is repeated.

If there is insufficient width to provide hatching a solid white ‘nose’ can be provided, followed bythe white line.

Sheffield Cycle Forum notes – 19th March 2013

But… good luck sharing the road with trams, you’ll need to get out of the way if one comes up behind you. They can’t overtake and there’s not enough room to move over to let one past.

Tram from back.resized.jpg

Tram from side.resized.jpg

“Confident cyclists can just use the road”

P1050779.resizedToday I was speaking to someone about a proposed highways scheme in Sheffield. I said that the bicycle route was inconvenient because to turn right into a side road from a main road there were five toucan crossings on the bicycle route whereas the road has a slip lane with one traffic light.

The response was:

Confident cyclists can always use the road

Installing a cycle route that is less convenient than the road will not be used by existing cyclists who are used to convenient routes and dealing with hostile traffic.

Installing a bicycle route that is less convenient than the road will not encourage drivers to go by bike as it is more convenient to drive.

Making convenient routes that are only accessible to ‘confident cyclists’ excludes new cyclists, the young, the old, normal people nipping to the shops. It perpetuates the current approach which puts the convenience of the private motorcar before bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Roads that create convenient routes for private motorised transport at the expense of bicycle and pedestrian traffic have been designed upside down from the start.

Cycling routes need to be convenient and feel safe, one without the other will never encourage people to go by bike.

 

‘Sheffield gets cycle-friendly’

StarThis was the title of a piece in The Sheffield Star newspaper this morning reporting on a petition to Sheffield Council discussed at last weeks general council meeting.

I’ve written about cycle audits in the past and Sheffield’s failed commitment to conduct them. Recently CycleSheffield members were encouraged to write to their councillors and ask for cycle audits to begin ASAP. Many many people did this and I’ve heard that the council was inundated with questions from Councillors trying to get information.

This campaign had the desired effect and Sheffield Council have announced that they will introduce cycle audits and will be creating a new staff position in the council to conduct them.

The cycle audits will review schemes from the very inception to the finished product (pre-planning permission, planning permission review, detailed design and construction). We should begin to see bicycle traffic considered at the inception of highways schemes in Sheffield rather than just added on as an afterthought.

PI_Councillor_166“We have made a commitment that in the next financial year we are putting someone in post to conduct cycle audits… in any schemes coming forward they will be conducted”
Councillor Leigh Bramall – Chair of Sheffield Cabinet Highways Committee

 

This is a huge success and wouldn’t have been achieved without the efforts of CycleSheffield members.

Well done.

Full words of the representation I made at Sheffield Full Council meeting last week.

In 2007 this council passed a motion from Councillor Peter Price and gave a commitment to consider bicycle traffic during the design of highways schemes in Sheffield.
In the 6 years since this motion passed, Sheffield still does not consider bicycle traffic as a matter of course when designing highways schemes.
This petition and related representations to councilors over the past few months has the aim of highlighting this problem and to ask Sheffield Council to follow through with this commitment by adding cycle audits to all highway design projects.”