£5.46million will be spent to improve walking and cycling routes in South Yorkshire and create safer, less polluted neighbourhoods for residents to live and work.
The money will be used to build safe cycle routes, which are separated from cars, to connect communities with shops and workplaces, and prevent rat-running through residential areas to improve air quality and safety for residents.
The money has been awarded following a successful bid by the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) to the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund.
Proposed routes include segregated cycle lanes – which are separated from traffic – along the Sheaf Valley Route in Sheffield, and the A635 Doncaster Road in Barnsley, improved walking and cycling routes between Warmsworth and Conisbrough in Doncaster, and improved active travel connections between Rotherham town centre and Broom.
Plans also include a number of low traffic, or active, neighbourhoods, which residents will be consulted on and will help plan changes to road layouts. In these areas, roads are cut off for through traffic to prevent rat-running to make streets quieter, and in some cases, planters are installed to improve the look of the local area. This reduces noise and air pollution and makes streets safer and more pleasant for residents.
Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “We are building South Yorkshire a transport system for the 21st century and that includes building safe active travel routes to enable more people to walk and cycle.
“In the summer, my Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey and I released a vision for walking and cycling in South Yorkshire by 2040. The schemes in this bid will enable us to make some of those plans a reality and make travelling to school, work or the shops safer and more sustainable.
“Enabling people to travel in a way which is healthier for both people and the planet is vital as our region recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Building walking and cycling routes which connect people to places will be key to driving economic renewal and creating a stronger, greener and fairer economy for South Yorkshire.”
The schemes in the proposals form part of the Sheffield City Region’s Active Travel Implementation Plan, which will see 620 miles of accessible walking and cycling routes, 800 safe crossings and nearly 200sqm of active neighbourhoods across South Yorkshire by 2040.
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner, said: “”The news of the second phase of the Active Travel Funding for South Yorkshire is very welcome. We worked hard with our partner authorities to put together a bold and ambitious bid that would enable more people to choose to walk and cycle short journeys, and lock in some of the behaviour change that occurred during the lockdown of the spring. It was this increase of cycling and walking in the region that led to Mayor Dan Jarvis and I to write to the Prime Minister to request that funding was made available to put active travel at the heart of a green recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.
“Back in June we also released our long-term strategy for building a comprehensive network of safe walking and cycling routes across the region, alongside delivering the active neighbourhoods that will enable people to live in places with lower vehicle numbers and less pollution. Our plan is driven by the ethos that everyone should be able to walk or cycle from their own home in safety and whether using a wheelchair or other mobility aid, a standard cycle or an adapted bike, a cargo bike or an electric bike, or a parent with a double buggy, the sign of a civilised and welcoming society is that none of these people are forgotten.
“Across South Yorkshire around one third of households don’t have access to a car so we need to ensure they have reliable options to access education, employment and services. Active travel provides this and, alongside delivering transformational benefits for physical health and wellbeing, is a simple and cost-effective way for everyone to get around.
“I’m looking forward to working with councils to deliver the schemes and welcome the approach of enabling communities to be involved as this is the best way to ensure success.
“Of course, this is only the start, if we are to be successful in delivering our entire plan, then we need to see sustained levels of significant investment over the next 20 years. This year has placed our health and well-being in the spotlight like never before and a more resilient, safer and happier future will only be possible if the Government gets behind the opportunities that build activity back into people’s lives.”
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “This announcement will help us roll out further important active travel schemes across the borough and builds on the projects we have already completed. We want to encourage more Doncaster residents to cycle and walk by creating dedicated, safer routes which they can use and enjoy. With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, these schemes have obvious health and wellbeing benefits and by inspiring people out of their cars, the initiatives will have a positive impact on climate change.”
Leader of Rotherham Council, Cllr Chris Read said: “The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way the people in Rotherham travel. Many residents have taken to new walking and cycling routines they established during lockdown and so this funding is very much welcomed.
“Active travel is so important for people’s health and wellbeing and this funding will encourage even more people to benefit from an active lifestyle. The schemes due to be implemented will also help us work towards our ongoing goal of reducing air pollution in the borough”.
Councillor Bob Johnson, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability at Sheffield City Council, said: “Although we welcome the Government’s announcement of further active travel funding for the region, the significant delay in the Government’s announcement means that we will now need to review our active travel proposals to assess what can feasibly be delivered in the timescales we have.
“The first set of temporary emergency measures implemented across the city were a response to the urgent need to support social distancing, and included footpath widening and pedestrainsing key areas of the city centre. We hope that this second round of funding will allow us to introduce longer-term schemes that will encourage more people to put active travel first in their daily lives.
“Ensuring sustainable travel is accessible to people travelling around our city is a priority for the Council, and the active travel funding will support our Connecting Sheffield initiative, which focuses on creating new walking and cycle links and improving public transport infrastructure to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
“It is vital that we make these changes, amongst others, to help ease congestion and improve air quality in our city and to address the climate change crisis we are all facing.
“Although it is disappointing that we did not receive the full allocation of funding we asked for, we will now work to further develop our proposed schemes in the Sheaf Valley, Nether Edge and Crookes areas and look forward to hearing people’s views on these plans.”
Find out more at sheffieldcityregion.org.uk/cyclewalkSCR