'Short-sighted' Â£4.8m road-widening criticised by Sheffield cyclists
A Â£4.8 million road-widening scheme in Sheffield will increase traffic, worsen air pollution and fail cyclists and pedestrians, a critic has claimed.
Sheffield Council is planning a major overhaul of London Road at its junction with Broadfield Road in Heeley, which it says will cut congestion and shave two minutes from journey times to the city centre.
Businesses in the area last week gave the revamp a mixed reaction, with some welcoming the extra lane but others voicing concerns about the disruption and questioning whether it represented value for money.
Cycle Sheffield, which represents cyclists in the city, is not impressed at all with the plans.
Dexter Johnstone, the group's secretary, took particular offence at one line in a council report about the project stating that it will 'improve the intro-city route for confident cyclists who are comfortable riding on busy roads by increasing the amount of road space available for all users'.
The report goes on to suggest 'less confident cyclists' can use other quieter routes running parallel to London Road.
"The idea that in the 21st century someone can say if you're confident cycling on dangerous roads that's fine and if you're not you have to cycle somewhere else is quite incredible," said Mr Johnstone.
"How does the council ever expect to get more people cycling with that attitude?"
He contrasted Sheffield's approach with that in Manchester, where plans for a new multi-million pound cycleway backed by Chris Boardman were announced last week.
It is not just cyclists he feels the scheme is letting down either.
He also criticised proposals to reduce the number of pedestrian crossings and make those which remain two-staged, meaning people would have to wait on a traffic island to complete their crossing.
And he questioned the council's claim it would reduce air pollution by cutting congestion, saying this would only be true if traffic remained unchanged yet the council's own forecast was for a 20 per cent increase in the next 15 years.
"The air pollution's already above the legal limit there and all this will do is add more lanes for more cars, which will make pollution even worse," said Mr Johnstone.
He claimed the council needed to stop its 'short-sighted tinkering' with the existing road network and take and take a more holistic view about how to improve sustainable transport options.