Green leader Douglas Johnson's 'frustration' at long-delayed secure bike hub in Sheffield city centre

A top Green councillor has expressed ‘frustration’ at delays in providing secure bike parking in Sheffield city centre.

Monday, 23rd May 2022, 9:26 am

Green leader, Coun Douglas Johnson said it would promote cycle commuting - reducing congestion and improving health - and was ‘all the more important’ due to the rise of expensive e-bikes.

A £333,000 facility was due to open in March last year in a ground floor unit in Telephone House on Charter Row. Now it is scheduled for ‘autumn’ a city council spokeswoman said – some 18 months later.

It is believed the idea was proposed six years ago.

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Bike graveyard outside SHU's Owen Building in Sheffield.

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In the year the Greens have shared power, traffic has been banned or limited on several roads in Sheffield city centre to promote cycling and walking. Millions more in funding is earmarked for ‘active travel schemes’ across the city.

ARE SECURE FACILITIES KEEPING PACE WITH INFRASTRUCTURE?

But currently, there are just two ‘bike lockers’ - metal sheds - in Rockingham Street car park, according to the council’s website. There were three on Wellington Street car park but that is now a Heart of the City building site. Elsewhere cyclists have to use on-street racks.

Councillor Douglas Johnson, executive member for climate change, environment and transport and leader of Sheffield Green Party.

We asked Star readers if they would leave a bike locked up outside all day in the city centre.

Jason Holyhead said: “Absolutely not. Saw a frame chained up last week, no seat, no wheels.”

One said: “Only if you never want to see it again.”

Russell Cutts, of Russell’s Bicycle Shed at the railway station.

Jorge Auñón added: “No, go outside of the Owen Building and you will see some frames without seats and no wheels.”

Thepathlesstravelled posted: “No. Never. It’s a travesty that the city doesn’t have multiple accessible secure bike parking other than at the station. It literally dictates where I visit and shop.”

WHAT IS FORMER BBC REPORTER ANDY KERSHAW SAYING?

Andy Kershaw said: “No never. When I worked at BBC Radio Sheffield we had several bikes stolen from our locked station in our car park which is behind a gate and surrounded by fencing! Thieves can release them in seconds.”

The planned Bike Hub will be in one of these units below Telephone House on Charter Square.

Bikery posted: “A lack of security bike parking stops me riding more than anything else.”

Cycling Tiger added: “No. I've had bikes and parts stolen. I'll lock it up for a very brief dip into a shop but that’s about it. I'm really looking forward to the arrival of the city centre bike hub and will be one of the early adopters.”

Biscotti said: “Station bike hub is a godsend. Was in Leeds last week and noticed they have at least one indoor secure cycle hub in the city centre, don't get why Sheffield is taking so long to get just one.

“I can't imagine the council taking so long to react if the vast majority of people said they were worried about or had experienced their car being damaged or stolen in the city centre!”

WHY ARE THERE DELAYS?

Pinstone Street offers cycling nirvana after a traffic ban but offers only on-street racks.

Coun Johnson said: “Yes, it’s frustrating the bike hub has been delayed. This is a really good initiative because many people will feel more comfortable cycling to the city centre if there is somewhere safe to leave their bikes over the whole course of a working day. The only other bike hub, at Sheffield station, is very well used.

“This is all the more important as more and more people take up e-bikes, which are ideal for going to work in Sheffield.

“Unfortunately, there are delays to any construction project at the moment due to shortages and increased costs of both materials and labour.”

Plans state the new facility would have space for 200 bikes, a workshop, bike hire and sales, charging points for ebikes and changing rooms with lockers. Some £294,000 is set to come from the Local Transport Plan ‘pending the award of Active Travel Funding’.

WHERE IS THE CITY’S SOLE SECURE BIKE PARK?

Sheffield has one secure bike park, Russell’s Bicycle Shed at Midland Station, at least 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre.

Owner Russell Cutts is keen to run the new facility and says the need is greater than ever due to a rise in fuel and car parking prices and ‘erratic bus services’.

He added: “Having a secure space to park your bike gives users the confidence it will still be there at the end of the day and ready for their journey home.

“Bike thefts are still a serious problem across the city since demand increased during the pandemic and bicycle parts are still scarce, so having a good quality secure cycle hub is essential for Sheffield.

“I’d like to help operate it for Sheffielders, which would be a fraction of the cost of car parking.

“I understand there have been delays getting everything in place for the new hub, including finding a suitable space, but I really feel the time is right to get a futureproof solution in place for the city centre at a time when cycling to and from town is ready to boom.”

WHY ARE CYCLISTS AND WALKERS SET TO RULE THE ROAD?

The ambitious ‘Connecting Sheffield’ scheme is billed as a major first step to ‘transform the transport infrastructure that people use to get around the city as part of their everyday lives’.

It aims to create ‘high-quality, convenient and safer routes into and around the city for cycling, walking and public transport’.

It covers the city centre and from there to Neepsend-Kelham, Nether Edge and Darnall-Attercliffe, as well as a scheme at Magna-Tinsley.

Improvements to public transport are planned along Abbeydale and Ecclesall roads to improve bus journey times and offer a faster and more reliable service.

Meanwhile, the Active Travel Fund is to improve cycling routes and reduce traffic in local neighbourhoods. Projects include the Sheaf Valley Cycle Route, Crookes Active Neighbourhood and Nether Edge Active Neighbourhood.

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