"Sheffield is too dominated by the car, and it shouldn’t be that way" - tune in for city's transport Question Time
“We’re trying to replicate Question Time,” says Ian Carey. But w ithout the budget, or the fancy chairs.” This Thursday April 29, Ian has assembled a panel of politicians, business and community leaders to answer your questions, Sheffield, about how we might all get out and about together as the city reopens.
The ‘Transport Question Time’ is a regular event organised by local campaign group CycleSheffield at election times, but like everyone else over the last year, the panel will be online. (Register your place here)“CycleSheffield want to see more people having a real option to walk or cycle, but we also recognise that buses, driving, trains and flying are important parts of what makes Sheffield so successful,” says Ian.“We recognise there are going to be some tough choices ahead, and that’s why we want to hear what the politicians have to say.”Your panel is: Council and Labour leader Bob Johnson, Green councillor Douglas Johnson, Coun Ian Auckland from the Lib Dems and Conservative council candidate Lewis Chinchen, along with Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Director Louisa Harrison-Walker and CEO of the local Faithstar social enterprise, Shahida Siddique.Changes to Sheffield on the move have started to appear over the last year. While the government-funded trial segregated cycle lane on Shalesmoor was removed after a few months, the ‘active neighbourhood’ around Kelham Island is settling in, while some traders on the short stretch of Division Street closed to through traffic are wondering if more road space can be opened up for walking, riding and sitting around with a coffee to pass the time of day.Even the centre of the city centre has changed, with buses and motor vehicles re-routed to open up more of S1 to visitors on foot.The likes of Meadowhall don’t have buses and cars driving down their thoroughfares, yet up until recently, goes the argument, they still attracted plenty of folk happy to walk five to ten minutes from the car parks or bus stops.“My own parents go into town by bus,” says Ian Carey. “There are difficult choices to be made, and it’s hard to please everybody. We need to think about these choices carefully.”The idea of the active neighbourhood (or low traffic neighbourhoods, as they are called elsewhere) is to alter priorities to help more people travel around under their own steam. Drivers wanting to deliver or visit the area are not banned, but may have to take a new route or travel a little further.And despite the simmering controversy in low traffic London, evidence is increasingly showing that businesses do well once more walkers and fewer cars are passing through.“Everyone benefits,” says Ian. “People’s activity increases, there’s less pollution and congestion and for cafes and small independent shops and corner shops there’s more footfall, and more footfall is good for business.”CycleSheffield don’t want to trip up (or pre-warn) their panellists, but alongside possible questions on active neighbourhoods, buses and trains and the state of travel infrastructure, there may well be questions on electric vehicles.Charging facilities are coming up as a topic of interest, but the e-car is not the answer to everything, warns Ian.“Even if by some miracle every car in Sheffield was replaced by an electric vehicle, it might do something about some kinds of pollution, but because e-vehicles are heavier, we’d see more particulate pollution from tyres and brakes,” he says.“And they wouldn’t do anything about congestion, or so many car journeys being used for short distance trips.”The majority of journeys under 3km (1.9 miles) in Sheffield are made by car, he says, adding that all political parties now seem keen to enable more of those short journeys to be made on foot or by bike.“I live in Hillsborough, and because it takes so long to use the crossings on Penistone Road, I can actually drive the 150 metres to Hillsborough Leisure Centre as quickly as walking. Sheffield is too dominated by the car, and it shouldn’t be that way.”So tune in, he says. “Let’s hear what our politicians and business and community leaders have to say.”