Bus lanes removal rethink after pressure from cyclists

Plans to remove two sections of bus lane from one of Sheffield’s busiest roads look like being eased back after protests from cyclists.

No changes are likely to be made to an out-of-city stretch between Hunters Bar and Rustlings Road until an alternative route around the bottleneck has been confirmed for cyclists, including the possibility of a cut through Endcliffe Park.

Meanwhile, the bus lane up the hill towards Psalter Lane at Banner Cross is still due to be removed, but replaced by an ‘advisory’ cycle lane.

Changes were drawn up as part of a council and passenger transport executive package designed to improve the flow of traffic on the Ecclesall Road corridor for all users – buses, cars and cycles – and to improve safety for pedestrians.

It is estimated that the removal of the bus lanes at the two congested points will make better use of the road space and speed up journey times for buses by an average of three minutes and cars by just over four minutes.

But the proposals ran into opposition from cycle campaign groups, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield and Sheffield Green Party.

It was feared that riders would face even more hazards, especially at peak times, if the absence of bus lanes pushed them among two lanes of heavy traffic.

CycleSheffield said: “Cities all over the world are making space for sustainable transport whether it is bikes, buses, trams or trains, while Sheffield tries to make more space for private cars.”

Sheffield Greens said: “Cyclists will face real danger getting across two lanes of cars riding uphill to the right turn into Rustlings Road. ”

Now the council is adopting an amended line, subject to the possibility of final scrutiny.

Both bus lanes are due to be turned into ‘advisory’ cycle lanes – areas marked for cyclists, but with no penalty for drivers who stray into them.

But nothing will be done on the section near Hunters Bar until “the provision of a suitable alternative route for cyclists”.

Initial thinking is to give cyclists the option of using upgraded pedestrian crossings to cross Ecclesall Road and Brocco Bank, widening the footpath for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists and designating a cycle route around the perimeter of Endcliffe Park to get to Ranby Road, an existing advisory cycle road.

Plans are at a very early stage and subject to consultation with cyclist representatives – as is a broader strategy for a ‘green route’ from the city centre to the south west of Sheffield.

The idea of removing the city-bound bus lane on the approach to Hunters Bar has been dropped, as have slight changes to the roundabout itself.

Search for two wheel solutions

How would you make Sheffield roads better for cyclists?

The council says it wants to do more, but faces the problem of making extra room for cycles on an arterial system without the wide verges and central reservations that might allow changes to be made. Cyclists want to feel safer.

Contact sheffieldtelegraph@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk;@ shftelegraph.