Members were presented with a report which provided an overview of the Sheffield City Region Active Travel Plan (ATIP) and how its work programme and outcomes would be achieved. The ATIP outlined the requirements from the active travel network to achieve the goals, policies and success criteria outlined within the Transport Strategy and the Mayor’s Vision for Transport. This would enable aspirational journey time targets to be delivered and to achieve the 21% and 350% increase in walking and cycling. Currently there was not an SCR defined city region-wide cycle route network in place. There was a mapped cycle route network for each of the four local authorities, which were each delivered to a different standard and did not always meet the inclusive standards required to enable large scale modal shift to active travel.
The ATIP had been adopted by the MCA on 1 June 2020. Members recalled that upon the election of Mayor Dan Jarvis, he had made active travel a large priority of the overall transport priorities. Dame Sarah Storey had been appointed in April 2019, as the region’s first Active Travel Commissioner. Close working had been undertaken to develop an implementation plan, to which P Zanzottera was the Project Director within the MCA. The implementation plan sat alongside other implementation plans as part of the overall strategy which had been adopted a few years ago. It had always been the intention to produce four implementation plans for roads, rail, active travel and public transport. The rail implementation plan had been adopted in the summer of 2019 and the active travel implementation plan had also been adopted. The critical mapping was the 2040 ambition which set out the long term aspirations for a comprehensive active travel network across South Yorkshire.
Dame Storey referred to the close working undertaken with the local authority Leaders to create the implementation plan which had been scheduled to be adopted on 23 March 2020; this had been delayed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but had since been adopted. A total of £166m was available through the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) of which 50% was allocated for active travel. Work was underway with the local authorities to identify specifics of those schemes, to form part of the second tranche of funding. Dame Storey and P Zanzottera had created a new set of standards regarding the way to produce the infrastructure for active travel, and it was expected that the Government would adopt almost all of those standards. A new route on Bennethorpe in Doncaster has been built to the new standards and included consultation with the local blind & partially sighted society and deaf school, to ensure that those accessibility needs were included within the whole scheme. Over the next 9 month period, Dame Storey hoped to observe the creation of a pipeline of schemes created in order to be prepared for further tranches of funding. Currently work was underway on the Emergency Active Travel Fund which supplemented the TCF. Some support with soft measures were underway for behavioural change with schools, businesses and the public to ensure that people were aware of the benefits of active travel and how to build it into their daily lives. The schemes would be monitored and evaluated in order to maximise any opportunities.
P Zanzottera stated that the key element was to develop the pipeline to provide for a set of schemes that already had at least the strategic business case and an idea of costings, which could be accelerated once the funding was made available. In relation to monitoring and evaluation, it was recognised that within the document, many problems had been posed in relation to health and equality etc. and that active travel did not generate the appropriate statistics. A request would be made for both consultancies and universities to make a pitch on how this could be monitored and evaluated, with a view to them presenting the Year 1 Review. It would be proposed to use this as a template to produce an annual statement to identify what had been achieved in relation to active travel, and to identify the outcomes and how they had been achieved.
In relation to Objective 5, Councillor Ross queried whether the communities for co-developed plans could help to avoid the situation with the emerging implementation and the controversial reallocating of road spacing within Sheffield.
Dame Storey stated that it was the intention to involve the communities in the process. The Emergency Active Travel Fund was an ongoing consultation. A recent study had indicated that 77% of people across the UK wanted to see some form of improvements made, but unfortunately it was the smallest minority within the communities which had made the loudest impact.
Councillor Jones had observed an increase in bicycle usage over the past 6 month period than ever before, and the need for people to be able to travel safely on their bicycles. He referred to a local scheme which had been supported by Sustrans, to install a bridge over the East Coast Mainline. He wanted to ensure that part of the scheme did not go back onto the local highway, and he queried how the process could be supported.
P Zanzottera referred to the City Connect Programme in West Yorkshire, where such a bridge had been installed specifically to link up the greenways. Dame Storey and himself had discussed that there would be some major pieces of infrastructure required. Off-road developments were more difficult due to the landownership. He requested further details of the scheme from Councillor Jones. Councillor Jones would complete the online form.
Councillor Jones suggested that it would be helpful for P Zanzottera and Dame Storey to partake in a discussion with DMBC’s full council in relation to the scheme. It was important that communities were completely aware of the capacity to be involved in such schemes, which was not fully apparent at this time.
Councillor Baker expressed concerns about matters that were progressed too quickly, and that it was very important that everything undertaken should be sustainable. Careful thought was required to allow cycles, mobility scooters and adult tricycles who would all need access, as well as other forms of transportation. She was also concerned about a number of schemes that had been implemented without consideration of what was around them.
Dame Storey was working closely with the Neighbourhood North West Sheffield Policing Team due to the concern that some of the roads in the area were unsafe for cyclists, due to the behaviour of a minority of drivers. SYP had started a closed pass campaign and progress was being made.
Councillor Baker stated that since the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been major issues regarding the number of cyclists travelling on footpaths which was unsuitable for them. There was an opportunity for safe cycling and safe travelling to be made available for everyone. She made a plea that there were individuals who were unable to use cycles of any type, and the need to make space for individuals to be able to push wheelchairs.
Dame Storey reported that recruitment would be made for a Wheels for All Coordinator for SCR, to be initially based at the Doncaster Dome but would also be working within the other four districts (including the existing Cycling for All scheme in Hillsborough Park in Sheffield. She referred to the adapted wheelchairs which had front loading, to which the person assisting the wheelchair user would be able to utilise a very specially adapted bike, which would enable the individual to experience cycling; with the ambition to provide infrastructure to enable them the freedom to undertake utility journeys.
Councillor Ross gave thanks for the top 10 crucial challenges that were highlighted within the report. He referred to the clear impact of Covid-19 which had occurred since the drafting of the plan, which he considered was an opportunity to promote active travel. He considered that if the school run, which was a prime example of short journeys taken by car, could be focused upon, it would help to promote the habit of walking or cycling to schools.
Dame Storey stated that they were very aware of the issues of walking to school. A move was underway to promote walking to school during COVID-19 recovery with the intention to publicise that where possible that everyone should make the final 10 minute journey to school by foot. A Schools Active Travel Team met to try to resolve the challenges coming through and to ensure that there was not a potential grid lock when schools resumed in
RESOLVED - That Members noted the contents of the plan and brought forward questions.