'Pop-up' bike lane in Sheffield city centre set to be removed

A controversial ‘pop-up’ cycle lane in Sheffield city centre will be gone by mid-September - or sooner if traffic builds to ‘unacceptable’ levels, The Star can reveal.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 12:29 pm

More than half-a-mile of red and white plastic barriers running in both directions on the A61 dual carriageway in Shalesmoor will be removed, to the relief of drivers left fuming in long jams.

The route was launched without warning on Sunday July 5 as an emergency alternative to buses operating at severely reduced capacity due to the pandemic.

Occupying one driving lane in each direction, it sparked howls of outrage from unsuspecting motorists caught in congestion.

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Cycle route at Shalemoor

Meanwhile the number of cyclists on the route has been ‘disappointing’ - although only the number of vehicles is being officially counted.

Now businesses in neighbouring Neepsend say they have been hit by an influx of traffic as drivers seek to avoid Shalesmoor.

Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport, said the new cycle lane would be removed by mid-September, or sooner if traffic built up to 85 per cent of pre-lockdown levels.

He said: “We never thought the Shalesmoor cycle lane would be a permanent solution and we have always stated that it was a temporary measure.

Ed Wickett, Kelham Island Brewery owner.

“Our current plan is to continue to monitor the scheme over the next four weeks so we can use data from this period to inform future active travel plans in the city.

“If congestion passes the level that we have identified as critical, we will consider removing it early.”

Traffic on Shalesmoor was at 80 per cent of pre-lockdown traffic flow immediately after the cycle lane opened but is now at 70 per cent and falling, he added.

Full Stop cafe owner Simon Hayes.

But businesses in Neepsend say there has been has been a knock-on effect, with drivers avoiding Shalesmoor causing congestion on Burton Street and Neepsend Lane.

And road closures on Alma Street and Ball Street Bridge over the River Don in Kelham, installed at the same time as the bike lane, have cost them trade.

Simon Hayes, owner of the Full Stop cafe on Burton Road, said a three-minute drive for customers from Kelham was now 15 minutes. And it was no longer feasible for him to make deliveries on that side of the river.

He added: “It’s been bumper-to-bumper congestion outside the cafe. What impact is that having on the environment and we’re still not back at peak congestion.”

The Star's business editor David Walsh tests out the new cycle lane at Shalesmoor. Photo: Brian Eyre.

Phil Newton, of CTW Hardfacing on Mowbray Street, said there were more parked cars outside the premises and more queueing traffic on Burton Road.

Graham McIlhagga, of Two Brothers Coatings on Ball Street, said the bridge closure meant there was less passing trade and it was a hindrance for delivery drivers but it was quieter and better for cyclists.

On Green Lane in Kelham Island, Sonya Harrison of Bar Kelham, said it would hit their quieter days, from Tuesday to Thursday, when many customers drove.

Ed Wickett, owner of Kelham Island Brewery on Alma Street and the Fat Cat pub next door, said it was too early to say if there had been any impact on trade, although Kelham now felt like a ‘ghost town’.

He added: “The Shalesmoor bike lane was built in the hope people will cycle to work. I’ve not seen that. But we’re not yet at peak traffic - in September it will be absolute carnage.”

Cyclist Jay Aelfaer, aged 31, of Endcliffe, said the new pop-up route was a good idea, if confusing to use.

Alma Street is now blocked by planters.

And Kelham resident Adele Kletz, aged 25, said she thought it should be made permanent.

“I drive and it’s affected me, but only because I’ve been in a rush. Long-term you can adjust to anything.”

Campaign group Cycle Sheffield said it welcomed Sheffield Council’s ambitious trialling of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Kelham Island and protected cycle lanes on the ring road at Shalesmoor.

It added: ‘It is vital that safe and attractive space for cycling is created to enable more people to cycle, especially given the impact of Covid-19 on public transport.

‘We urge the council to make both schemes permanent but if that is not possible the council should retain the one with the widest benefits and highest usage.

‘The trial schemes should not be removed if this impacts negatively on Sheffield’s ability to bid for the next tranche of Emergency Active Travel Funding.

‘The trials should be kept in place for as long as possible to evaluate their impact. If the temporary protected cycle lanes are removed from Shalesmoor these should be trialled in other areas of the city.’

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Kelham Island resident Adele Kletz is in favour of the changes.
Cyclist Jay Aelfaer.
Ball Street bridge linking Kelham Island and Neepsend is closed.