VIDEO: Hundreds of cyclists ride out and demand action to improve Sheffield's bike network

Hundreds of cyclists got on their bikes and rode out in the spring sunshine today.

Families and individuals young and old cheerfully rang their bells as they rode out in convoy from Devonshire Green for a short circuit around Sheffield city centre this morning.

Dexter Johnstone.

Dexter Johnstone.

But behind the carefree feel of the event there was a serious message.

Around 400 riders gathered as part of a campaign to lobby council chiefs to improve the city's cycle network with many raising concerns that a lot of roads are downright dangerous.

The day of action comes just months after statistics revealed a total of 825 cycle collisions were reported to South Yorkshire Police between 2010 and 2015 - with the most dangerous roads highlighted as Ecclesall Road, Abbeydale Road, Glossop Road, Penistone Road and London Road.

Beauchief resident and keen cyclist John Gilbert said: "There are too many pot holes in the roads. It means you have to swerve to avoid them, which puts you in danger as you end up going towards traffic. Archer Road near Abbeydale Road in particularly bad for this.

John Gilbert.

John Gilbert.

"I know they are resurfacing the roads now but they should have done it years ago. The cycle paths are also disjointed. They take you so far and then come to an end."

Dexter Johnstone, secretary of event organisers Cycle Sheffield, called on the council to consider introducing a new cycle network in and out of the city centre.

The 35-year-old Walkley resident added: "We need to make it as easy as possible and as safe as possible for cyclists and an improved cycle path network would do that.

"We also think the council should look at reducing the speed limit on some roads so they are not used as rat-runs by vehicles speeding up and down to make it safer for all road users.

"With the Peak District next door, Sheffield should be great for cycling but at the moment it is too congested."

The event was organised by Cycle Sheffield under the banner of the 2017 Big Ride. This is part of a wider Space for Cycling national campaign, coordinated by Cycling UK, which is lobbying for councils to take action on three key issues:-
*Plan a full network of cycle-friendly routes
*Invest a minimum of five to 10 per cent of the local transport budget in cycling
*Build the network using the most up-to-date high quality design standards.

Cycle Sheffield is specifically calling for Sheffield Council to make cycling part of the transport infrastructure.

Ian Carey, chair of Cycle Sheffield, said: "For years the council have said good things about developing a cycle network, but have done very little to make it happen. Well designed cycling infrastructure, similar to what is now being developed in London, is proving to be a boost to the economy.
"People cycling to work are more healthy, get there quickly and are more productive. Sheffield needs to take cycling seriously.”

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport at Sheffield Council, said: “More than ten per cent of our local transport budget for this year is already allocated for cycling schemes.
“We are delivering cycle safety schemes around tram tracks and also secured £2.5m of funding from the City Region’s Sustainable Transport Exemplar Programme. This will be used to provide more dedicated cycle routes across the city and we recently completed a shared-use route at Penistone Road which enables cycling off-road or on quiet roads between Kelham Island and Oughtibridge.
“We continue to promote cycling to schools and are soon to start projects at two schools looking at the best infrastructure and safety works, which can then be used as a blue print for others. This, as well as the continued roll-out of 20mph zones, will improve the cycling environment in Sheffield."