No More Investment in Cycling – Write to your MP now

Osbourne's Halloween Horror - From The Private Eye
Osbourne’s Halloween Horror – From The Private Eye

I’ve just written to my MP about the news that investment in cycling is going to dry up at the spending review at the end of this month.

You should write to your MP too, it’s easy and only takes a couple of minutes.

Dear Harry Harpham,

I’m writing to you about the news that investment in cycling is due to be cut in the November spending review at the end of November as reported in The Times yesterday.

I’m dismayed at this news. We must keep investing in cycling, not for cyclists, but so that everyone has the freedom to ride a bike. Helping to revitalise our neighborhoods by reducing congestion, noise and making them nicer places to spend time. To give our children the freedom to travel independently, to reduce the burden on our health service, to begin to tackle climate change and especially poor air quality (which all cities in the UK suffer from), and fundamentally, to give people a the choice to move about without relying on a car (especially given 1/3 of households in our constituency do not have access to one).

I understand that a big focus of this review will be on transport infrastructure, but cycling seems to be missing out. Back in March the government published research into the benefit cost ratio (BCR) of cycling investment compared to other transport investment, it showed completely that the BCR was far higher for cycling than for any other form of transport. I simply can’t understand why cycling investment wouldn’t be a key part of infrastructure investment in the UK.

Please could you let me know what you think and if there’s anything you could do to help? I think the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group is amazing and it’d be great if you were to talk to them about this.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Turner


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
20mph Uncategorized

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.


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.


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

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

Well done ICE for highlighting and supporting these issues.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Illegal parking on Asline Road cycle track

Coaches blocking Asline Road cycle track in Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police directed these coaches to park here

Illegal parking on Clarkhouse Road cycle lane

Illegal parking on Castle Street cycle lane.

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

Leigh Bramall’s Standard Reply to Cycling Contacts

I’m just posting this here for the record!

In Sheffield, including the implementation of new 20mph areas, we are spending over £1m in the coming year making improvements to our cycle infrastructure.

We have set out a policy that will ultimately see all suitable residential areas have a 20 mph speed limit, and the Streets Ahead programme to bring all our pavements and roads up to a good standard will make the cycle offer easier, as well as offering the opportunity for further improvements to our cycling infrastructure.  In addition, we are developing plans for a network of Green Routes that will provide off road cycling routes using our green spaces and parks to provide safe cycling paths along key corridors for commuting and leisure uses.

We have also recently facilitated a Scrutiny Committee investigation into how cycling can be improved in the city.   From this, we aim to identify a single strategic cycle network using both on-street  and off-road routes that will work together to offer safe cycling conditions for all types of cyclist.  Links to the report are below.  The Cabinet of Sheffield City Council has received the report and will be considering the recommendations prior to commenting on the report in July this year.  The Labour Council is committed to continuing to look at this and other ways of improving the city to make cycling an attractive option.