A casual visit shows Little London Road in Sheffield is not fit as a walking route

Traffic is not like water say transport analysts who examine how to keep us all moving. Block a pipe, or a river, and all the water overflows somewhere else. Traffic is people making choices they say. So curtail through motor traffic on one road, Little London Road, say, and those cars don’t all automatically reappear on the A61 or the A621. Within a few weeks of changes being made, some of those people get out of their cars and walk or cycle or get the bus instead. And some decide to change their journeys.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 10:07 am

The consultation on the new Sheaf Valley active travel route received well over 1,000 responses, the clear majority supportive. But around 300 residents, travellers and business owners (and letter writers) were not keen.

A casual unscientific visit to the small Victorian railway bridge over the road demonstrates the problem. A point closure under the bridge is planned to open up the route for easier and safer travel for walkers and cyclists, and to close those few metres to motor vehicles. The spot is currently tricky (at best) for cyclists, who have to boldly go through without being able to clearly see who’s approaching the other way. But watch a walker taking their life in their hands, or a parent pushing a pram under that bridge, and it’s clear that Little London Road is not fit for purpose as a walking route.

Safety for walkers and cyclists is about traffic speed as well as volume and visibility. On that casual morning rush hour visit, there weren’t streams of drivers cutting through Little London Road, there were a handful of cars and vans, some of which were travelling a bit too quickly for comfort.

Runner finding her way past parked cars on Little London Road.

The point closure will mean the relatively few drivers who have to reach properties on the other side of the bridge will make different, slightly longer journeys. And those (not that many) drivers who use Little London Road to avoid other roads will make other choices. As will those many Sheffielders who say they’d like to walk or cycle more, but feel too nervous to do so on a transport network built for cars instead of people.

The council will now be assessing the comments made about how their proposed changes will alter travel choices in the Sheaf Valley, and a route of a kind will be built by the spring. Let’s all see what we think then.

Cyclist and driver on Little London Road.