A new cycleway project to encourage cycling and walking as a safe choice for shorter journeys has been branded “ridiculous” and “unnecessary” by locals, who claim that the lengthy construction work is creating “mayhem” and “chaos” in the town – including making it difficult for rugby fans to attend matches – while one business owner dismissed the new infrastructure as “woke” and asserted that “proper cyclists don’t need cycle lanes”.
The £3.6 million Broom Road cycling scheme in Rotherham features a range of improvements designed to make it safer and easier for cyclists and pedestrians to use a busy route connecting the south-east of the town to the centre, and includes 1.4km of dedicated bike lanes, three new signalised junctions, one new road crossing, and two improved crossings.
Rotherham Council claims the project will “encourage cycling and walking as a choice for shorter journeys”, while furthering the local authority’s ambition to “build a high-quality, joined-up network of cycle routes” in the South Yorkshire town.
However, the scheme – and in particular the current construction works – have come in for criticism from locals, who say traffic delays are becoming a “permanent fixture” for residents and creating a “very poor impression” of the town for visitors.
John Whaling, the commercial director for Rotherham Titans, a professional rugby union club which plays in the fourth tier of the English league, believes that the roadworks – located near the club’s Clifton Lane ground – are causing “chaos” for people who work nearby, while the club was forced to warn spectators to “leave early” to avoid missing the start of their match with Huddersfield last Saturday.
“This week they have closed off the roundabout that we access Badsley Moor Road from. This is to last eight weeks, in which time we have four home games which we hope are not affected, but it is clearly going to be a challenge for our spectators to get to the games,” Whaling told the Rotherham Advertiser.
“I had to go down to Magna and the roadworks along there are ridiculous and the queues into town stretched almost to the Meadowhall junction.”
He continued: “They have started multiple bicycle lane projects all at once and only seem to work on each one sporadically, hence the length of time it is taking to complete any of them.
“The ongoing saga on the road outside New York Stadium seems to be a permanent fixture now. We really are giving a very poor impression of the town to visitors and causing chaos for the people who work here.”
Meanwhile, a Rotherham business owner, who did not wish to be named, told the newspaper that the roadworks related to the project had resulted in “absolute mayhem”, and criticised the council for forging ahead with the “unnecessary” cycleway scheme, which he claims won’t be used by “proper cyclists” in any case.
“I was told they were frightened they would be knocked back on the money if they didn’t do the whole scheme in one go and that’s why it is such a mess,” he said.
“It seems to be being done without the proper resources, therefore creating absolute mayhem and it’s taking months and months.
“How many cyclists do you see in Rotherham? Proper cyclists don’t need cycle lanes and no-one else is going to cycle up Broom Lane.
“What they are trying to do is make a Holland of us. It’s one of those woke agenda schemes.”
However, Rotherham Council’s assistant director for regeneration, planning, and transport, Simon Moss, says that during the consultation process carried out before the works commenced, the public was “broadly supportive” of the plans.
“We empathise with our residents and other road users and understand the frustrations they face when roadworks cause delays on our local networks, and we apologise for any inconvenience,” Moss said.
“We always endeavour to minimise the impact on other road users when we undertake such schemes and always seek to inform and consult with businesses, road users, and residents before work begins. The public consultation we carried out for the Broom Road scheme was broadly supportive.
“We do try and keep the impact of construction activity to a minimum, but we are conscious there is a lot of activity and investment going into road improvements here in Rotherham.
“This particular work is part of a £3.6m nationally funded active travel scheme which will soon make it far easier for our communities to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. While the money could have been spent on other similar schemes it could only be used for active travel purposes.”
Last month, we reported on similar criticism from locals concerning the construction of a new CYCLOPS junction in St Helen’s, Merseyside, which aims to protect pedestrians and cyclists by separating them from motor traffic and reducing crossing distances, while also cutting journey times for motorists.
The ten-month-long construction process, however, angered some residents, who claimed that the works and accompanying road closures have left their homes and businesses “inaccessible” and “permanently covered in dirt and dust”.
“I’ve had to have the car valeted twice now because it’s driving me mad,” one local said, while also arguing that there was “nothing wrong” with the original roundabout.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.