The Battle For Broomhall Rd

Junction of Broomhall Rd and Victoria Rd

Broomhall Rd is a leafy avenue passing through the Broomhall conservation area in Sheffield, much loved by John Betjeman amongst others. Unfortunately it had also become a rat-run for drivers wishing to bypass the complex junction system at Brook Hill. The rat-running problem in the northern section of Broomhall was solved by an ingenious traffic management scheme developed in consulation with residents many years ago, but this did leave the southern area vulnerable to traffic. The area is also well used by students, University staff and people taking their kids to nurseries in the area amongst others. 

A proposal was made to link the two Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) sites  – City and Collegiate  – with an enhanced walking and cycling route and this has now been put in place on Broomhall Rd.  Making a section of Broomhall Rd one-way with contra-flow cycling means that is still possible to access Clarkehouse Rd but you have to go a longer way round on traffic calmed streets. I think the new route is long enough to discourage rat-running.

The CycleSheffield view  as I understand it is that the scheme is not radical enough and all the parking on one side of Broomhall Rd should have been removed to make more space for people walking and on bikes. Their initial response is here. 

Personally although I’m never against segregated cycleways I’m not sure the level of traffic on this road, particularly now the level of rat-running has been reduced, warrants segregation.

Complaints about the scheme have focused on two issues – drivers are violating the no entry signs and continuing up Broomhall Rd in the wrong direction and parking has been reduced making it more difficult to drive up to the nursery gates and drop your kids off. It is also alleged that the road is too narrow for contra-flow cycling.  Brunswick St however is much narrower than Broomhall Rd and contra-flow cycling works successfully here.

SHU hasn’t covered itself in glory – they seem happy to have the council take the flak for this scheme although it was done at their behest. I’m cross that they have recently closed two of the cut-throughs from Collegiate Crescent to Broomgrove Rd, one possibly temporarily, the other looks permanent. I’ve been using these routes since I lived on Southgrove Rd in the 1970s and they would make a natural extension from the Broomhall Rd route into the Groves, both for walkers and cyclists. They have also annoyed local residents by leaving portakabins in place for teaching, that they said they would remove by 2015. 
Traffic doesn’t “have” to take the long way round Collegiate Cres & Park Lane – most of the through traffic is rat-running and should stay on the Ring Road. Alternatively people could just leave their cars at home and use alternative means of transport. I think the long way round route that traffic now has to do is long enough to discourage most drivers from doing it regularly and that as tends to happen, people will get used to it and find alternative routes.  There is a bit more traffic on Victoria Rd now but it is in manageable numbers.
The lower section has been narrowed to reduce speeds and the discouragement of rat-running I mentioned previously will I think make a difference to this area.
I quite like the parking areas delineated with brick that they have put in.
Down at the City end, the existing cycle link at the end of Broomhall St (joining the ring road)  is still in place and form the link from the Ring Route to the Broomhall Rd route.
Presumably the route will continue along Wellington St –  there’s a plan for a plateau over Fitzwilliam St  which looks a bit wimpy –  the one further up  linking to Devonshire St is only a minor improvement  & I think CycleSheffield were right to ask for a proper light controlled crossing here. Egerton Walk is shown as a cycle route on the plan but is currently only a footpath. – this area is being resurfaced at the moment. I guess it will all link up once the New Retail Quarter is done.
I hope the council shows resolution and doesn’t make any more than minor amendments to this scheme and then cracks on and sorts out the Clarkehouse Rd problem, of which more later.

No Left Turn Unstoned*

On May 21st I attended a meeting in Unstone, NE Derbyshire, about the proposed cycle route along the B6057 and linking up the Peak Resort bridleways with Dronfield (although the planned route doesn’t quite reach Dronfield)   This would be a major plank in the completion of a Sheffield to Chesterfield Cycle Route – the current route is described here.

There and back again

The views expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.

 

Currently the cycling experience along here is pretty bad.  When the A61 bypass was built nothing was done to rebalance this road in favour of walkers, cyclists, disabled people or horse riders.  As a result most riders you see are youngish, male, wearing lycra helmets etc – the confident cyclist”. There is a steep gradient to the north of the route which attracts fast riding. There has been some criticism of the scheme from cyclists and this has mostly come from this type of cyclist. There would be nothing to stop this type of cyclist from continuing to use the road except that the carriageway would be narrower. As a fairly confident cyclist myself I think I would tend to stay on the road in the down hill direction and use the shared use path when climbing.

 

The village is blighted by what is in effect a major road running through it. The Post Office is the only local business left along the road. Although the Post Office is being provided with 3 parking spaces as part of the scheme (currently people park illegally outside or park on side roads and have to cross the road without a crossing the postmaster complained bitterly about it. Local people commented that if he sold anything that was worth having other than stamps they would use it more.

There were a lot of deaf people in the room. Some were genuinely hard of hearing, others just didn’t want to hear what council officers and others had to say.  One gentleman had to be taken out by his daughter after he constantly interrupted other speakers.
The council officers knew their stuff and did their best but didn’t come over particularly well.
The plan is for a shared use route,  1.4 miles long. mostly 3 metres wide, but will be 2.6 metres wide in places because there isn’t enough road space for the full width.  The cost is £900k. from ring-fenced govt. funding. 
The Railway Bridge is a problem, it has a narrow separate footbridge the current proposal is for Cyclists Dismount signs. This bridge would have to be rebuilt for electrification (the HS2 spur will run along here) so this would be the solutrion to that in the long term. Actually if you dismount on a narrow path you double the width you are taking up making it impossible for others to pass you – “Cyclists Dead Slow” would be better IMO.
Narrowing the road would bring down traffic speeds, a major cause of concern for everyone. However, the officers didn’t really provide the evidence for that.
The Business Case shows £5.95 return for every £1 spent.
The scheme would involve the Closure of Church St & Old Whittington lane, removing some rat-running.
There is some doubt as to whether the peak resort is going ahead? – as far as DCC knows it is, but if it doesn’t, the bridleway asset as well as the access road network is in place for whatever replaces it.
At the south end a link to Chesterfield is in the planning stages.
There was some talk about using the disused railway between Dronfield and Unstone instead (who know there was one?) I have my doubts about this as it doesn’t really connect the two communities but could make a good leisure route. You need to get across the railway to access it which would make it expensive. I plan to go and take a look
The meeting concluded with an informal vote which went against the scheme. However, I don’t feel that this in any way demonstrated local democracy – people didn’t seem to understand what they were voting about, and had no inkling that they were turning down a £900k investment in their community.  I think it has been poorly marketed  – it should be marketed as a traffic calming scheme with a shared us path included, not just a cycle route.
The attitude amongst attendees then was that they had a major problem with the road running through their village but weren’t prepared to allow anyone to do anything about it.  I hope the scheme goes ahead.

 

*This refers to a catchphrase invented by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters in the ’60’s. The were fervent advocates of the use of marijuana and LSD, and when discussing politics were adamant that the alleged heightened consciousness effects of these drugs should be brought into play. Tom Wolfe reported this in his seminal work, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” which inspired young people all over the world to adopt the alternative lifestyle advocated by the Pranksters. When they got bored with smoking dope they tended to do things like set up yoghurt farms and wholefood shops and of course started riding bikes.

Marijuana production and use is now legal in many US states. Tom Wolfe died on May 14 2018, aged 88. R.I.P.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey is on at the Crucible, 8 Jun – 23 Jun.