Let’s Get Cycling: Improve safety to get more cycling call

Sheffield Cycle Boost scheme at Firth Park Academy. Picture: Andrew Roe.
Sheffield Cycle Boost scheme at Firth Park Academy. Picture: Andrew Roe.
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Improving cycling safety should be the main focus of new measures laid out in a council report, bike riders say.

Sheffield Council has put together 19 recommendations to get more people on their bikes – from appointing a cycling champion to maintaining training levels – after it conducted an inquiry.

Andrew Langsett, who owns well-known bike shop Langsett Cycles on Infirmary Road, spoke after a teenage driver was locked up for causing the death of cyclist John Parkin.

Andrew, who was John’s friend, said: “The biggest problems people have about cycling in Sheffield are the hills, but a half decent bike eliminates a lot of that, and safety is the number one priority.

“I think this will take a long time – and it is definitely a two way thing, there’s nothing worse than being a motorist and having a cyclist fly through the red lights.”

Other recommendations in the report include finding ways to promote the cycle network by June in order to make the city ‘less daunting’ for novices. It found safety concerns were a ‘key barrier’ to people taking up the sport.

Chris Rust, who runs the Nether Edge Bikebus scheme showing new bikers routes they can travel, said: “Anything that can be done to make cycling part of everyday life is good.

“My worry is I don’t think Sheffield has a very good track record of making good intentions happen.

“If people can see they can cycle to the shops they will – there’s no need to do anything to promote it.”

David Bocking, who provides pedal training as part of CycleBoost, said improving safety was more about increasing awareness and providing training than creating new infastructure.

The council says getting more people cycling will bring benefits such as cutting air pollution and obesity.

It wants to ‘change the culture’ of road use so people are ‘no longer afraid to cycle’ and to make different groups consider two wheels.

Group CycleSheffield proposed the inquiry.

Chairman Mick Nott said: “Developing cycling is not expensive compared to transport, health, leisure, tourism and air quality budgets, and has a great return for every pound spent.”

The council’s cabinet members will discuss the report next Wednesday.