Car free Sheffield street hailed a success with calls for more

Councillors hailed a weekend trial of pedestrianising a popular city centre street a ‘brilliant’ success and called for it to become permanent and bigger.

By Molly Williams
Friday, 15th November 2019, 11:49 am
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 3:28 pm
A car-free Division Street (pic: Steve Ellis)

Andrew Rodgers and Dexter Johnstone, from Cycle Sheffield, gave a presentation on the trial to Sheffield Council’s economic and environmental scrutiny committee.

Division Street was blocked off to motorists over the weekend of October 19 and 20 and open for pedestrians and cyclists to roam freely.

Mr Johnstone said the response was positive from the public and local businesses.

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Pictured is car free Division Street in Sheffield city centre ¦ Pic Steve Ellis

He also said the experience showed no impact on traffic movement, more social interaction, it was significantly quieter, more pleasant to be in and if made permanent would improve air quality in the area.

Mr Johnstone added: “Our recommendation is that Sheffield Council consults on designs and implements a daytime pedestrian area along as much of Division Street and Devonshire Street as possible.

“This would reflect the best improvement to the space while still providing the best option for businesses on the street to operate and thrive.

“It also provides a built-in level of infrastructure for the council to be able to offer a more effective and economical options for the space to be just for events such as Tramlines.

“The council would be able to create a much more identifiable and brandable city centre destination. Local businesses would be able to make use of the additional space which would give businesses on the street a more long term viability.”

Coun Paul Turpin, who sits on the committee, said: “I came down to the road closure and it was brilliant. I brought my two kids down and it’s never taken me so long to walk that road ever because they spent every inch of it chalking on the floor.

“I just think it’s a brilliant idea and it’s something we need to do to start transitioning towards having fewer cars on the roads.

“Sheffield’s three main retail areas are all pedestrianised and the big difference with doing it on Division Street is they are largely smaller, local businesses and that is an area I think misses out to the Moor, Fargate and Meadowhall.”

Earlier this year Sam Wakeling, of Cycle Sheffield, created a number of animations in the form of GIFs showing how busy roads in Sheffield could look car free. Many went viral on social media and sparked debate around the idea of pedestrianising more of the city.

Coun Turpin said: “I saw the GIFs you did and I really lamented how it was seen to be a missed opportunity when we had the Streets Ahead contract and that would’ve been the time to do it or more or less no extra cost.”

Coun Ben Miskell, who is also a member of the committee, said: “It’s great to see the evolution of the campaign to pedestrianise Division Street which started in Apri.

“It really does show what possibility we have when decision makers and citizens come together for the betterment of the city. I walked down the street during the closure and I read report by Cycle Sheffield and it’s clear the trial was a real success.”

Cycle Sheffield also made clear that any future plans to pedestrianise areas would not ban cyclists, as they found in the trial there was a respect for pedestrian priority and the space was shared well.

Mr Rodgers said going forward there is a lot of scope to create an extended car free area.

He said: “In terms of the scope of what we’d like to propose, we want to pedestrianise as much as possible because I think that whole area has a lot of potential to extend all the way from Cambridge Street all the way up to Fitzwilliam Street.”