“The road layout puts a lot of people off”: over 400 cyclists bike through Sheffield in a bid for safer streets

Written by Emily Davies

Last Saturday, cyclists of all ages gathered to ride through Sheffield to encourage the council to improve road safety.

Over 400 people took part in the event

Over 400 people turned up to the event organised by CycleSheffield, who campaign for easy, accessible cycling in the city.

The ‘Big Ride’ began at 11:30 on April 23 at Devonshire Green and lasted for around an hour. There were marshals with the riders and at key junctions, and families rode at the front so that the children didn’t get left behind.

Sheffield’s Green Party members also showed up to support the event.

Ione MacGregor took part in the ride: “I am conscious that in a city like Sheffield the road layout puts a lot of people off, so I think we need to get a lot of people cycling, and to do that they need to be confident to get on the roads.

“We need to make sure the town is designed in a way that everybody feels safe. Not only for themselves, but to encourage children, which I think is the most important thing going forward.”

When asked about the current state of cycling infrastructure, she said: “I think there have been some interesting things that have happened. There has been the Greater Green section down by Kelham Island, but I also noticed that they put markets and things on that. It is almost like they give you a space then it’s not really your space.

Some cyclists brought their children along in attached prams

“It’s like ‘Well you can have it until we want the space back then we’re going to do something else with it.’

“There is so much more that can be done.”

She also thinks improving Ecclesall Road is “crucial” to make it more safe for cyclists of all experience levels.

The ride lasted for about an hour

Comparing the cycling to London, she said: “A lot of people say that is terrifying but actually the provisions down there are better. People are more used to seeing cyclists around which changes car drivers’ behaviour, so I think once we start to get more cyclists on the roads everybody adapts.”

Nicole Erlen, 68, and her husband were also at the event: “What exists at the moment is not good and there are some areas where I don’t feel safe on my bike.

“We just think it is a fabulous event. I think it is a good opportunity for cyclists to get together, for children to gain confidence on the roads, and people to gain confidence by being in big numbers because the cars have to give way to this big number of cyclists, and I think it demonstrates what happens if people feel more able to ride their bikes on Sheffield streets.”

She uses her bike as a form of transport to try and stop the spread of pollution, reduce the expense of running a car but predominantly to improve air quality in the city.

Although the riders were there to raise awareness of the problematic road layouts, the event itself was received well.

Written by Emily Davies

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