Sheffield doesn’t think cycling

Why build a cycle lane if you are going to block it (for no reason) every time you do any road works?

Junction of Sidney St and Furnival St, Sheffield, August 2010

Normally this cyclist would go to the end of the red cycle lane which deliberately positions her so she can safely cross Furnival St into Brown Street ahead on the right. Somebody has put that red and white barrier across her path so she now has to cycle off a high kerb in a location that the planners presumably thought not safe, or she has to go up to the left for a distance and make a U turn at the end of the barrier. stillpointlink

This is one of the busiest cycle routes in Sheffield, part of the city’s “Cycle Ring Route” and used by anybody coming from the west to Sheffield Station. Maybe that barrier isn’t such a big obstacle in the scheme of things but it’s completely unnecessary and an example of how the city’s road maintenance people just don’t give a damn about cyclists, are probably incapable of understanding what that little section of cycle lane is for, so they do pointless thoughtless things that make our lives more difficult and make us feel even more like second class citizens.

Here’s what the barrier does:

It prevents traffic from Brown Street, beyond the bus, turning up towards the camera because the road is blocked by road works further up the street behind the camera. It would be dead easy to build the barrier with a gap for cyclists to follow their normal route on to Brown Street but nobody cares enough. If motorists encountered a silly obstacle like this there would be uproar but it wouldn’t happen because planners and highway repair people are able to think about motorists needs.

I ride off that high kerb, despite having fragile property (computer and camera) in my bike bag, however some people have started taking a dangerous route through the junction, avoiding the cycle lane and cycling the wrong way up the one-way Sidney Street. At the narrow section where it meets this junction is a dangerous point where a motor vehicle, like this bus, can appear and make a right turn, meeting the cyclist in a road too narrow for both.

I’m not surprised, Sheffield is clueless about cycling. Motorists come first and we have to make do with fragmented, sometimes dangerous, cycling provision that can be blocked for months or years if the planners get bored with it and want to do something else.

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5 Responses to “Sheffield doesn’t think cycling”

  1. Rona Says:

    I wonder if you have tried phoning or emailing the council or Highway’s Dept? We have similar things happen here in Suffolk. A road sign announcing a partial closed road was recently put right on the corner of our street where cars turning in could practically bang straight into it – or swinging out to miss it could plough into other road users including cyclists.

    I think it’s down to cyclists to keep lobbying until we get what we want. So many of our cycleways are inadequate and poorly thought out. At least the cycle route shown looks wide enough – unlike most of the ones around Ipswich!

  2. chrisrust Says:

    Thanks Rona, I did contact one of the Council’s planning officers about a previous problem reported on this blog but had no reply. I post stuff here partly to provide the evidence base for me and others to complain but I’m at a loss to know where to direct my complaint. Businesses seem very alert and willing to respond positively but Local Authorities seem to get down behind the barricades if they get a difficult complaint.

  3. ambrose white Says:

    try this guy:

    “Furnival Street
    Temporary closure to allow highway works to take place
    Promoter: Street Force
    Contact: Andy Blagg 01142736123
    23rd to 30th August 2010”

    this post echoes my many frustrations. saxon road was closed for utilitiies works….road closed, pedestrian route accounted for – major cycle route (virgin active cycleway) ignored. i would be surpruised if you contact highways then they ignore you, i think they would take notice. planning is not the right area, its Streetforce you want to contact in the first instance. the council posts details of all planned roadworks here:

    http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks/general-roadworks

  4. Richard Grassick Says:

    If these barriers have been erected with no reference to the cycle path, are they not an obstruction that can be removed by citizens? I would suggest both contacting highways as suggested, but with the caveat that cyclists will be advised to remove illegal obstructions to the cycle highway until such time as proper temporary, signed facilities are provided.

    This happens everywhere in the UK, and reflects the fact that “cycling initiatives” have the same status as play areas in parks – nice little extra add ons, but they have no impact whatsoever on mainstream traffic management thinking.

  5. chrisrust Says:

    You are quite right Richard, however the barriers are an excellent design using big plastic mouldings as interlocking jigsaw pieces. Once in place they are filled with water which makes them immovable by the average citizen (You have to lift them about 2 ft to release them from the adjacent sections). Otherwise I would have made the change myself, always my preferred course of action.
    Latest news is that the road works have moved down closer to this area and, in changing the layout, they do now provide a gap in the right place. Whether this is because somebody noticed this discussion or just a normal consequence of the barriers being moved, I don’t know.

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