Calls on Sheffield Council to use cycle boost to make long-term improvements
Politicians and cycling campaigners are calling on decision makers in Sheffield to use the lockdown as an opportunity to improve active travel infrastructure.
Weeks of restrictions due to the coronavirus has encouraged many to make use of quiet roads and enjoy walking or cycling.
Cycle shops have seen a big boost in customers and some riders say they feel the safest they have ever felt now there is less traffic.
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, many say they want these new benefits to stay.
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrats, along with others including the Green Party, Cycle Sheffield and local residents, says it is a prime time to make long-term improvements.
He said: “Now is the time to start having a conversation about the cycling and walking improvements we want to see and how Sheffield Council supports and funds them.
“We should take the opportunity to work with residents and businesses to explore pedestrianising certain areas of the city, so walking becomes not only a safer option, but a more enjoyable one too.
“The council should also now look at prioritising cycling as a mode of transport for both leisure and commuting.
“It’s good for business, good for our work-life balance and good for our environment."
As well as health and wellbeing benefits, more cycling and less motor travel can help tackle the pressing issue of air pollution - which in Sheffield contributes to 500 deaths a year.
Scientists are predicting global carbon dioxide emissions could hit their lowest point since 2008 this month, due to the lockdown.
Some cities have already seen nitrogen dioxide levels fall by up to 60 percent compared to this time last year and Sheffield has seen a 30.6 percent drop according to figures collected by the BBC Shared Data Unit.
Coun Mohammed said: "Air pollution is a silent killer and unfortunately Sheffield has some of the worst air pollution hotspots in the UK - from Broomhill in the west to Tinsley in the east.
“It would therefore be a real missed opportunity to go back to our old habits and simply return to a way of life which revolves around commuting by car.
“Here in Sheffield, now is the time to start having a conversation about the cycling and walking improvements we want to see and how the council supports and funds them.
“We should take the opportunity to work with residents and businesses to explore pedestrianising certain areas.
“Cutting down the queues during the morning and evening commute benefits us all. A happier workforce, a better work-life balance with less wasted time and of course a healthier environment."
The government announced a £2 billion investment in cycling on Saturday which will go towards creating pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions and cycle and bus-only corridors over the next few weeks.
Residents can now lobby the council to put these improvements in place where they think it is needed most.