I attended the Sheffield City Council Highways Cabinet Committee meeting earlier in the week and asked a question about a new preliminary junction design in Broomhill. A pedestrian crossing with a mid island is being introduced along with a new slip road to allow left turns.
“How have the needs of people riding bicycles been taken into consideration when evaluating the preliminary design options? I can find no discussion on this in the report”
The answer was very long winded and didn’t answer my question directly, so I replied
“So you haven’t given any consideration to cyclists at this stage?”
“No” was the answer.
A local councillor suggested that the council should place signs advising of alternative routes on quieter roads. Dick Proctor, Transport Planning Manager at Sheffield Council agreed and added that,
“We (Sheffield City Council) design main roads for confident cyclists only”
Others have long argued that this strategy will not encourage people to use bikes and I strongly agree. David Arditti wrote about this in his blog Vole O’Speed recently in relation to the London Cycling Network, I shall quote him.
But there were no answers to the simple observation that the minor roads are minor because, in general, they are not the most useful through-routes to anywhere that people need to go. Cycle route planning does need to start from the recognition that cyclists, or, should I say, people on bikes, are normal human beings who need to do the same things that everybody else needs to do: go to the same shops, schools, offices, stations, that are all linked, most usably and efficiently, by the main roads. Forcing an invariable, inevitable compromise between directness (and priority) and safety was never going to be a route to success. As I have said before, fundamentally, cyclists no more belong on the minor roads than do motor vehicles or pedestrains, and successful route planning in both the Netherlands and Denmark, to my knowledge, has been based on the procedure of looking first at where cyclists go already, and then providing safe infrastructure for them in those places: quite the reverse of the LCN approach.
It doesn’t look like this junction will be made safe for cyclists any time soon, Dick Proctor thinks there is no need because only confident cyclists will use it. This is the reason 1.9% of people’s journeys to work are by bicycle in Sheffield 🙁
The preliminary design was approved at the meeting.