Sheffield Green Party Councillors are backing local residents’ calls for safer roads, keeping the closure of a number of roads to through motor traffic. The roads remain open to people who walk, cycle or use a wheelchair or pram.
The Active Travel Neighbourhoods in Nether Edge and Walkley/Crookes were established using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order in 2022, stopping through-traffic on a number of roads, preventing rat-running and making them safer for people on foot and on bike.
“I have had an overwhelming number of residents contact me asking me to support making both of these Active Travel Neighbourhood schemes permanent. They’ve told me that the improvements have been a huge success and that people want to keep them. Children feel safer to play in the streets, and neighbourhoods are more pleasant and liveable. I was particularly impressed when primary school children from Nether Edge contacted me to express their appreciation of being able to walk safely to school and to Scouts. Any reopening of these roads would be met with utter dismay.
“If we are serious about reducing road collisions, addressing climate change and health problems caused by lack of physical activity, then it is schemes like this that really make a difference. We have to put communities before cars and back safer streets for local people.
“I have studied the objections to the changes and the evidence shows that there has not been a measurable rise in traffic on adjacent streets. There are people who want to drive their cars where they like, with no restrictions, but we have a responsibility to the wider community and to residents who want to live in a safer, calmer, quieter and more pleasant environment. The Council took a small but important step by installing these filters and they have been a success. It would be irresponsible to go backwards.”
The Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, Cllr Douglas Johnson, responds to a constituent’s enquiry about the benefits of Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in Nether Edge and in Crookes.
In any community, there are going to be different points of view. However, here are a few points of perspective I would note:
These schemes have been entirely drawn up based on what residents in the area have requested through the public consultation. This was a completely open engagement exercise with no original proposal at all being put forward by transport planners: it was a blank sheet for residents.
Secondly, this is a scheme based on an “experimental” traffic regulation order which means there is now a 6 month period for further consultation. In reality, people can often focus on commenting constructively once they see a scheme in place. It is always helpful if people can give comments so that it can lead to a better scheme whilst there is funding available to make improvements.
Thirdly, whilst any low-traffic scheme inconveniences those who own cars to some extent, the scheme overall is to cater for everyone, including those who don’t have cars. Many people are both inconvenienced and put at risk by the number, movements, speeds and parking of cars around these roads and it is important that the needs of people who don’t own cars are also taken into account, including children. The enquirer made an interesting point about cycling to school in the past – surely we should be aiming to restore the ability of school children to cycle (and walk) safely now.
Fourthly, this is indeed the point of the scheme overall. Such schemes are based on the evidence that bringing in minor interventions like this doesn’t just re-route traffic but actually leads to a drop in overall traffic volumes. This benefits everyone, drivers and non-drivers.
Finally the “devious plan” that the original enquirer referred to, that prevented resurfacing of the street, was the outsourcing of the council’s street repair functions to private contractors (Amey) under the previous Labour administration. This massive deal has been (and still is) enormously costly to the city but has also missed any opportunity for safety improvements to be made because of the like-for-like replacement specified in the 25-year contract. It is a prime example of the sort of backward-thinking that we as Greens have campaigned strongly against.