UK cycling set-up is simply pathetic

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From: Geoff Green,

Professor of Urban Policy, Sheffield Hallam University

I very much agree with Dr Bing Jones (Letters, January 19) that cycling infrastructure in Sheffield is poor.

I would go further and argue that like other British cities, Sheffield’s performance is pathetic compared with our Scandinavian neighbours.

In Copenhagen (flat landscape, cold climate, prosperous economy) 22% of workers commute to work by bike; in Helsingborg, Sweden (hilly, cold climate, prosperous economy) it is 26%.

In Sheffield (hilly, temperate climate, struggling economy) less than 2% of commuters passing through the inner cordon are cyclists and in Bristol, the most advanced provincial British city, it is circa 3%.

When we launched Sheffield as a healthy city 25 years ago, a fundamental proposition was that a healthy personal choice should always be the easy choice; exercise should be part of everyday living rather than merely purchased from a gym. 25 years on Sheffield should be congratulated for investing in an eminently walkable city centre.

But there is a big disconnect of cycle routes as highlighted by Dr Jones.

For me the underpass below the dangerous (for cyclists) St Mary’s roundabout is emblematic.

It should connect cycle paths along the inner ring and provide a safe radial route into the city centre from Bramall Lane. It does neither. For over 10 years it has asked cyclists to dismount and walk through. To ride through on the pavement (as many of us do) is a criminal offence.

Meanwhile the city has constructed a £63 million inner relief road to contribute to the city’s prosperity by easing traffic flow.

Imagine reader, if you will, a notice on the carriageway just before the Wicker, saying ‘Motorists, please get out of your car and walk.’