Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Crescent Campus, S10
I was interested to read the long rant from the other side of our city - 'Like a victory for Mugabe,' letter from a Handsworth correspondent, September 21. The issue is a safe cycle lane along Clarkehouse Road. I have lived in the neighbourhood for 40 years and have a different perspective.
I am not a member of the Green Party and did not vote for them, but they are elected in our area with a strong mandate to cut air pollution (these days primarily caused by vehicle emissions) encourage cycling and promote public health. The evidence tells us that a safe cycling infrastructure encourages 'utility' cycling.
In Sheffield about 2% of commuters into the city centre are cyclists. I am one of them, and it can be dangerous. In Copenhagen, with much better, safer, cycling infrastructure, it is 26% and in hilly, cold Helsingborg, just across the strait on the Swedish coast, it is 28%
The Clarkehouse scheme is to remove commuter car parking from the cycle lanes at all times of the day. The current conflict is most acute in front of the (primarily student) houses at the top of Clarkehouse Road, where cars park half on the pavement and half in the cycle lane. There is extensive car parking space behind these houses, and as a cycling organisation pointed out, there are 561c secure parking spaces in the new Q-car park less than 500 metres away on Durham Road.
Further down, (and a special point of contention by your correspondent), King Edwards Swimming Pool requires parking spaces to maintain its viability. I chatted with the receptionist and checked it out. Clients currently use 30 parking spaces next door in the grounds of the school. On the opposite side of the road there are 15 parking spaces inside the cycle lane. I guess these will be retained because they do not compromise cycling safety.
Further down the road, almost all the buildings are offices with car parking spaces. Below the Botanical Gardens there are very few cars parked outside houses in an evening, suggesting that the majority of spaces are taken by commuters during the day. Access to the Botanical Gardens is perhaps the most problematic for those unable to walk or use a bus. A couple of disability spaces could be provided next to the top gates without compromising traffic flow.
Otherwise, commuters can park on side roads, including my own which hosts over 50 commuters a day, most headed to my university. We have an 'active travel' policy, and need to work with the City Council to deliver.
So, these are difficult issues. If we are serious about public health and clean, efficient transport in our fair city, then let's drop Mugabe from the discussion and support this scheme.