During 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.
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.
It is already on record that South Yorkshire Police do not consider road safety to be a priority. The recently elected South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said so at one of the very first meetings he attended.
Whilst the remit of road safety fell under the remit of the Police and Crime Commissioner, unless there was a particular road safety issue, traffic policing would not be high on the list of priorities as some other issues.
Last week in Sheffield on my doorstep an 82 year old lady was run down by a hit and run driver in a 20mph zone which is used as a through route by design. From the description it seems clear that the driver failed to give way when turning into a side road as the lady crossed the junction.
An 82-year-old woman from Burncross, Sheffield, was crossing Taplin Road close to the junction of Middlewood Road. It is believed that a silver/grey car travelling along Taplin Road towards Hillsborough Place, collided with the elderly woman, and failed to stop at the scene.
And an 8 year old girl is hit by a drunk driver on a Sheffield City Centre street.
AN eight-year-old child was rushed to hospital after being struck by a car in a Sheffield street. “The driver of the vehicle involved has been arrested on suspicion of being over the drink drive limit.”
What do the police have to say in response to this when approached for a comment?
PC Mick Hedges from South Yorkshire Police, said: “I have lost count of the number of incidents I have attended where pedestrians have been unnecessarily killed or injured.
“It takes very little effort to follow these four simple steps – stop, look, listen and think. Parents can also play their part and teach their children by example.”
Officers from the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership will … provide training in schools and urge youngsters to wear bright, reflective clothing.
Is anyone else concerned by this attitude or is it just me? I would much rather the police in Sheffield and South Yorkshire stopped with the victim blaming and focused on the true causes of these casualties as identified by the World Health Organisation.
Each year, more than 270 000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads. Many leave their homes as they would on any given day never to return. Globally, pedestrians constitute 22% of all road traffic fatalities.
The key risks to pedestrians are well documented, and they include issues related to a broad range of factors: driver behaviour particularly in terms of speeding and drinking and driving; infrastructure in terms of a lack of dedicated facilities for pedestrians such as sidewalks, raised crosswalks and medians; and vehicle design in terms of solid vehicle fronts which are not forgiving to pedestrians should they be struck.
Perhaps the cycle route signs give an obvious answer?
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.
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.
Yesterday at Prime Ministers Questions, Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge asked a question about the Get Britain Cycling report which was released yesterday.
Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Today sees the publication of the all-party cycling group’s report “Get Britain Cycling”, which calls for leadership from the very top on this issue. Will the Prime Minister look at the report, make sure that he produces a cross-departmental action plan and give his personal commitment and leadership to get Britain cycling? [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker: Order. Members on both sides are very discourteous to the good doctor. I cannot for the life of me fathom why there are groans whenever I call the good doctor, but it is very unsatisfactory.
The Prime Minister: I do not always agree with what the hon. Gentleman says, but on this occasion he is absolutely right and the House should heed what he says: we should be doing much more to encourage cycling. The report has many good points. I commend what the Mayor of London has done in London to promote cycling, and I hope local authorities can follow his lead in making sure that we do more.
In Hillsborough, a suburb of Sheffield, a significant volume of motorised traffic uses a 20mph residential as a through route by design so that delays to motorised traffic is kept to a minimum.
There are already some 20mph zones in Sheffield such as Taplin Road in Hillsborough.
The local council is in the process of installing more of them around Sheffield.
We want to reduce the speed limit to 20mph from 30mph in some residential areas in Sheffield. This will help us to reduce the number of accidents on our roads.
Lower speeds will help make neighbourhoods a safer, more pleasant place for local people to live, particularly for our children and elderly.
However, in reality the Taplin Road 20mph zone is used as a dumping ground for excess through traffic re-routed from Hillsborough Corner crossroads in order to keep traffic flowing smoothly.
A lot of vehicle traffic heading out of Hillsborough will use the A61 Penistone Road. Most of this would ideally travel south along Middlewood Road towards Hillsborough Corner and then left onto Bradfield Road (as in the map below – the red area shows the 20mph speed limit zone).
The actual route is shown in green, the prohibited route is shown in dashed red.
However, the left turn onto Bradfield Road is not permitted because the phasing of the lights at Hillsborough Corner conflicts with a pedestrian crossing phase.
As a result drivers are directed into the residential area of Taplin Road and Hillsborough Place and then onto Holme Lane to approach Hillsborough Corner junction from a different direction. This diversion is through a 20mph zone in a residential area.
Taplin Road and Hillsborough Place are both residential roads with on street parking, houses close to the road, narrow footpaths, children and plenty of families. Not the sort of place significant volumes of traffic should be directed!
As a token gesture some traffic calming measures have been introduced. Can you spot them in the pictures? Some red surface and a brick moulded tar covering. Does this do anything to remind vehicles that pedestrians have priority when crossing? No.
Traffic calming measures
Perhaps a ‘speed table’ at junctions? It’s quite hard to see, because it’s such a half arsed measure.
A Speed Table – Can you see it!?
The Dutch approach for a junction from a major road to a residential road would have significant traffic calming measures. It would be clear that you’re entering a residential area where pedestrians have priority.
This could all have been prevented if the Hillsborough Corner traffic light phase had been separated so the pedestrians could cross either before or after the green vehicle phase.
So, why wasn’t this done? I suspect because it would introduce delay to vehicles at Hillsborough corner – Sheffield City Council never seem very keen on doing this!
I believe this shows road design at its worst. To go to these lengths to remove any inconvenience/delay to vehicle traffic shows a significant disregard for the safety and well-being of the residents of Hillsborough. Traffic that adds no value to the local area is put ahead of the place in which we live. And that has to change.
20mph Zones are not the solution to through routes in residential areas. Removing the traffic is.
Today 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.
This 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.
“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.
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.”
Sheffield Police seem to be under the impression that they can leave their vehicles in mandatory cycle contraflow lanes even though they have a car park across the road.
The people on the front line (receptionists, policemen) seem to think that I’m wasting their time complaining. I was made to feel like an idiot and that I was in the wrong for asking the vehicles to be moved to their car park.
Well, they’re mistaken, we’re not playing games anymore, parking in this cycle lane opposite their own car park is no longer acceptable and has been condemned by SYP management with assurances given that it is not acceptable.
After I made my complaint I assume someone with some knowledge of the history got wind and asked for the vehicles to be moved immediately. 5 Minutes after being told that there was no where for the vehicles to park and it was necessary to block the cycle lane, the vans were moved into the police car park. A minor victory.
All photo’s on this post taken approximately 10:05 on 30th March 2013.
On my commute to work I very rarely stop for traffic lights, even when they are red I normally just cycle straight on past the queues of cars waiting at the stop line. I do this all perfectly legally and safely without breaking any rules.
How can I do this? Because I cycle on an off road cycle path where these traffic lights do not apply.
The traffic lights on Penistone Road in Sheffield do not apply to cyclists using the off road cycle path. There are 18 sets of traffic lights that I miss by choosing to cycle along this 1.5km stretch of Penistone road. Even if the lights are red I can pass them safely and am simply permitted to bypass them on the cycle path because the lights that apply to the adjacent road do not apply to the cycle path.
This is a big big advantage that cyclists have over other vehicles, my journey is quicker, I don’t need to start and stop which makes cycling less strenuous, and I make excellent progress along this road.
Lots has been said about cyclists being allowed to turn left on red lights, I do not support this because I think it will encourage cyclists to move up the inside of left turning traffic. However if cyclists are provided with dedicated off road facilities (as I use every day) then left turns and some straights simply do not need to be controlled by lights, cyclists are simply given a path through the junction without ever encountering a stop line.
The concept of bypassing taffic lights is discussed as applied in The Netherlands by Mark Wagenbuur in this blog post
I’m glad that Sheffield City Council decided to ignore their policy of designing roads for confident cyclists only for Penistone Road because I use this cycle path every day, it feels safe and there are only two points where I sometimes need to wait.
“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.