Is twenty plenty for city centre’s roads?

20mph zone sign
20mph zone sign
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More than 300 streets in central Sheffield could have their speed limit cut down to 20mph

A 20mph speed limit is set to be rolled out on hundreds of streets in Sheffield city centre in a bid to reduce crashes and make roads safer.

The council has launched a consultation with the aim of bringing in a new zone on more than 300 roads in the middle of the city, encompassing nearly every street apart from a few major routes such as Arundel Gate, Derek Dooley Way and Sheaf Street.

Campaigners have given their backing to the proposal, which continues a drive to reduce speed limits in accident hotspots that has so far focused on Sheffield’s residential areas.

Highways chiefs say the measure is needed as the amount of people living in the city centre increases and important developments pick up pace, in particular the new retail quarter. Encouraging more walking and cycling, and the use of public transport, is also high on the agenda.

The council hopes the zone will be in place by the end of the year, and has set a deadline of August 11 for people to comment.

Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said it was ‘always the plan’ to introduce a city centre 20mph zone.

“We thought it was best to concentrate on the estates where the traffic speed is higher, to lower the number of collisions and help keep people safe,” he said, adding that several crashes had given the project fresh urgency.

“It’s important that we take action. Most of the sad collisions and accidents in the city centre have involved speeding vehicles. It’s made us even more keen to look into it and consider the scope of the scheme.”

Ian Loasby, of the 20’s Plenty for Sheffield group, welcomed the consultation, saying it was ‘long overdue’.

He expressed some concern about 30mph sections that would remain - Eyre Street, Moore Street and Broad Lane among them - but continued: “We are pleased to see the majority of the centre both retail and residential will now be a 20mph zone. This, of course, brings us in line with other major city centres such as Edinburgh and Birmingham.”

Fellow group member Simon Geller said: “Hopefully it discourages people from behaving irresponsibly, giving people a real choice as to how they travel around the city.”

The project will involve putting up signs at the zone’s entrances and on lamp-posts, rather than installing speed bumps, as cuts to funding mean such measures are no longer affordable.

However, Simon said: “The important thing is winning people’s hearts and minds - getting them to recognise that this is a good thing for everybody. The schemes that used to be put in, with bumps, haven’t actually been very popular. They tend to annoy motorists.”

The group has been speaking to police about how zones in Sheffield are enforced.

“They have been ambivalent about whether they can enforce the 20mph limit, but we think they can,” said Simon.

“With repeat offenders, they tend to want to do something about it. We know there have been cases where communities have been given speed guns to measure the speed of vehicles.”

He believed the key effect of zones was that the ‘average speed of traffic comes down’.

“If you’re behind somebody else doing 20mph it’s really difficult to get past them. It brings the speed of all traffic down. On most of the city centre streets you can’t really do a lot more than 20mph anyway.”

Neighbourhoods that already have restrictions include Darnall, Gleadless Valley, Heeley and Stannington, as well as more than 80 streets extending from Greystones to Whirlow. Firth Park and Woodhouse are being considered too.

The local Green Party, which supports the initiative, said the city centre had the worst road safety record in Sheffield, claiming it had been ‘left behind’ in favour of residential areas.

“As well as road safety, slower vehicle speeds mean less air pollution and noise, which is very important in built-up residential areas like the city centre,” said City ward councillor Rob Murphy.

“We know 20mph zones produce fewer speeding cars,” said Coun Scott. “They also reduce the number of collisions, but perhaps most importantly they reduce the severity of them as well. If one does happen, it’s far less likely to be fatal at 20mph than 30.

“We want to have a really vibrant city centre. If you look around it’s clear just how much is going on and how much growth there is. We want to capture it, and harness it, and use it in a really positive way.”

Comments can be sent to 20mphAreas@sheffield.gov.uk via email.

What you think of the plan

Adam Burrell, 23, a support worker who lives in Sheffield, said:

“I suppose if accidents are happening, which I don’t know if they are, then it might be a good idea to lower the speed limit. But I’ve not heard of there being any problems. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Sheffield student, Lena Ward, 44, said:

“I absolutely agree with lowering the speed limit. There’s a lot of people trying to cross these roads as it’s one of the main shopping areas. Drivers are going about 20 anyway because it’s always quite congested so it won’t make any difference to them.”

Paul Wetherstone, 49, a cutler from Sheffield, said:

“I’ve got mixed feelings. It seems a bit like the council are just finding ways to increase revenue. But if it’s going to save lives then obviously you have got to go with it anyway.”

David James, 34, who is self-employed, said:

“In the outskirts of Sheffield, it’s going to back up traffic, especially at rush hour. It’s just going to get busier and as a result will have a bad effect on people from the city and businesses as well.”

Sheffield mum, Rosi Lines, 28, said:

“I think if you’re going to be slow at any time, it should be on Friday and Saturday nights on West Street. But hopefully at any other time people, both drivers and pedestrians, would be sensible enough to have a look before walking out or driving. I think it’s down to people themselves really. To be honest, I think the council are looking for any way possible to make money through fining people.”

The full list of streets to be included:

Acorn St, Aldine Court, Allen St, Alma St, Andrew Lane, Angel St, Arundel Lane, Arundel St, Backfields, Bailey Lane, Bailey St, Baker’s Hill, Bakers Lane, Ball St, Balm Green, Bank St, Barker’s Pool, Beet St, Bells Square, Bethel Walk, Bishop St, Black Swan Walk, Blast Lane (part), Blonk St, Blue Boy St, Boden Lane, Bolton St, Bowden St, Bower Spring, Bowling Green St, Bridge St, Brittain St, Broad Lane Service Rd, Broad St West, Brocco Lane, Brocco St, Brook Drive, Brook Lane, Broom Green, Broomhall St, Broomspring Close, Broomspring Lane (part), Brown Lane, Brown St, Brownell St, Burgess St, Cadman Lane, Cambridge St, Campo Lane, Canning St, Carver Lane, Carver St, Castlegate, Castle Green, Castle Square, Castle St, Castlefolds, Cavendish Court, Cavendish St, Chapel Walk, Charles Lane, Charles St, Charlotte Lane, Charter Row, Charter Square, Chatham St, Church St, Clay Lane, Congress St, Convent Place, Convent Walk, Conway St, Copper St, Cornish St, Cotton Mill Row, Cotton St, Craven St, Cross Burgess St, Cross Smithfield, Cross Turner St, Cumberland St, Cupola, Daisy Walk, Devonshire Lane, Devonshire St, Division Lane, Division St, Dixon Lane, Dixon St, Doncaster St, Duke Lane, Dun Fields, Dun Lane, Dun St, Earl St, Earl Way, East Parade, Ebeneezer Place, Ebeneezer St, Edward St, Egerton Close, Egerton Lane, Egerton St, Eldon St, Ellis St, Esperanto Place, Evans St, Exchange Gateway, Exchange Place, Exchange St, Eyre Lane, Fargate, Favell Rd, Fig Tree Lane, Fitzalan Square, Fitzwilliam Gate, Fitzwilliam St, Flat St, Fornham St (part), Froggatt Lane, Furnace Hill, Furnival Gate, Furnival Rd, Furnival Square, Furnival St, Garden St, Gell St, George St, Glossop Rd (part), Green Lane, Gun Lane, Hallam Lane, Harmer Lane, Hartshead, Hartshead Square, Harvest Lane (part), Hawley St, Haymarket, Headford Gardens, Headford Grove, Headford Mews, Headford St, Hereford St, Hicks St, High St, Hodgson St, Holland St, Hollis Croft, Holly Lane, Holly St, Holy Green, Hounsfield Lane, Hounsfield Rd, Howard Lane, Howard St, Jessop St, Johnson Lane, Johnson St, Joiner St, Kelham Island, Kelham Square, Kenyon St, King St, Lady’s Bridge, Lambert St, Lancaster St, Leadmill Rd, Leadmill St, Leavy Greave, Leavy Greave Rd, Lee Croft, Leopold St, Love St, Mappin St, Market Place, Marsden Lane, Mary St, Matilda Lane, Matilda St (part), Matilda Way, Matthew St, Meadow St (part), Meetinghouse Lane, Millsands, Milton Lane, Milton St, Morpeth St, Mortimer St, Mulberry St, Neepsend Lane (part), New St, Newcastle St, Newton Lane, Norfolk Row, Norfolk St (part), North Bank, North Church St, North Quay Drive, Nursery Lane, Nursery St, Orange St, Orchard Lane, Orchard St, Paradise Lane, Paradise Square, Paradise St, Paternoster Row, Penistone Rd Service Rd, Penton St, Percy St, Pinfold St, Pinstone St, Pitsmoor Rd, Pitt Close, Pitt Lane, Pitt St, Platt St, Plum Lane, Plum St, Pond Hill, Pond St, Pool Square, Portland Lane, Portobello, Portobello Lane, Portobello St, Queen St, Queen’s Row, Radford St, Red Hill, Regent St, Regent Terrace, Rockingham Gate, Rockingham Lane, Rockingham St, Rowland St, Russell St, Scargill Croft, Scholey St, Scotland St, Sheldon Row, Shepherd St, Shude Hill, Siddall St, Sidney St, Silver St, Silver St Head, Sims St, Smithfield, Snig Hill, Snow Lane, Solly St, South Lane, South Parade, South Quay Drive, Spitalfields, Spring St, St George’s Close, St George’s Terrace, St James’s Row, St James’s St, St Paul’s Parade, St Peter’s Close, Stanley Lane, Stanley St, Steelhouse Lane, Suffolk Lane, Surrey Lane, Surrey Place, Surrey St, Swinton St, Sylvester Gardens, Sylvester St, Tenter St, The Moor, Thomas St, Townhead St, Trafalgar St, Trinity St, Trippett Lane, Tudor Square, Turner St, Union Lane, Union St, Upper Allen St, Vicar Lane, Victoria St, Waingate, Walker St, Ward St, Water St, Well Meadow Drive, Well Meadow St, Wellington St, West Bar (part), West Hill Lane, West St, West St Lane, Westfield Terrace, Wharf St, Wheeldon St, White Croft, Wicker (part), Wicker Lane, Wilkinson Lane (part), Wilkinson St (part), Willey St, Wilson St, Workhouse Lane, York St, Young St