The Green City ward councillors welcome the Connecting Sheffield proposals for improving active travel infrastructure by adding segregated cycle lanes and much needed pedestrian crossings, reducing public transport travel time and adding greenery to the ward, which is one of the most deprived wards in Sheffield in greenery and green spaces.
In discussions with and listening to residents in Kelham Island and Neepsend the need for cutting off the rat run through Kelham Island has come up many times, we welcome that this scheme finally addresses this.
Alongside this the crossing at Rutland Road junction has been much requested by residents and visitors alike and is something we have been pushing for for many years. People do not feel safe crossing there at the moment, and there is no nearby managed crossing. Adding one will make a big difference to the area, especially considering potentially increased demand with applications for new developments in the area.
It is welcome to see a change in transportation planning and to see innovations like the Dutch roundabout proposed, which would give pedestrians and cyclists priority. We welcome this, although note that improvements can be made to the suggested to design, such as those made by CycleSheffield and wish these are taken into account.
To meet our carbon neutral ambitions as a city, country and world we must make carbon free means of transportation as accessible as possible. Improving public transport infrastructure and reducing the time taken to reach destinations by public transport is important in providing environmentally friendly viable alternatives to private car travel. Improving active travel infrastructure has been shown to increase the amount of use of active travel, which as well as being good for the planet is also good for our health.
We would like to encourage all nearby residents, people who work in the area and those who travel in the area to submit feedback so suggestions can be taken into account.
Green Councillors raised concerns about the Clean Air Zone proposal back in 2019 with no consideration on the effect of private vehicles on air quality and the disproportionate impact on small local businesses. We noted then that the very need for a CAZ in a city the size of Sheffield was an admission of policy failure at local and national level. So to see an already flawed plan being halted, at a time when we desperately need to be building infrastructure that works for the good of all, is cause for concern.
Air pollution already prematurely kills 500 people per year in Sheffield, with more than 28,000 deaths across the UK, making air quality a key issue for public health. These figures don’t exist in isolation either, with shortened lifespan and exacerbated health conditions for many, in addition to recorded fatalities. COVID-19 has already shown us how environmental quality, and inequality, plays a part in public health.
It isn’t enough to claim a short-term drop in emissions due to the lockdown as ‘progress’ – in fact postponing the CAZ has put the council in breach of its legal requirement to address the issue. If SCC are serious about tackling toxic air quality it’s imperative that, rather than putting off any action, they make a clear commitment and take full advantage of the £40 million in government grants available.
Sheffield is well placed to be ahead of the curve. We welcome innovations around walking and cycling infrastructure put in place during the lockdown. Now is the time to expand that program, to meet the target of being carbon neutral by 2030 and help small local businesses to reduce emissions.