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Business owner claims active travel schemes will "kill trade" as council considers closing roads to motor traffic

Sheffield City Council published its plans for better bike lanes and less traffic this week

As the city of Sheffield unveils its plans to make an up-and-coming neighbourhood friendly to cyclists and pedestrians, one business owner told the BBC he would lose out on trade without easy access for lorries and vans.

Sheffield City Council's plans include new bike lanes and pedestrian crossings in Neepsend, West Bar and on Kelham Island. The council is planning to close some roads to cars and introduce a one-way system, rerouting the B6074 to go around the area rather than through it.

Two roads, Burton Road and Neepsend Lane, would see bus traffic prioritised. Drivers would have to pay to park in the area.

The council had initially proposed the changes in 2021 and is now consulting on a revised plan. It has removed proposals for some bike lanes, but the plan still includes a Dutch-style roundabout on West Bar. 

> "Cycling is for everyone": Council leader responds to claim he "doesn't like cycling because it's too middle-class"

Sheffield also recently launched its clean air zone, where the most polluting taxis, vans and lorries now have to pay a charge to use the roads — but private car and motorbike drivers are not affected.

Sheffield City Council expects 1,500 homes to be built in the area during the next 20 years and says it is responding to demand.

Sheffield's plans for new cycling infrastructure (Connecting Sheffield)

Sheffield's plans for new cycling infrastructure (Connecting Sheffield)

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Committee Chair for Transport, Regeneration and Climate change said: “There is a huge amount of regeneration work taking place across the city, and it’s important that we make it easier to travel by public transport, cycling and walking.

“Making it easier to walk and cycle is especially important in development areas where journeys are likely to be shorter. We want other methods of transport to be accessible, reliable, and one of the first things people think of when planning their journey around the city.

“Our aim is to make our neighbourhoods pleasant places to live, and help people feel able to choose sustainable transport options. These proposals will help towards that.”

> Sheffield submits £85m sustainable transport funding bid

But Matthew Windle, who runs a car repair business in the area, told the BBC that lorries would face higher costs as they would have to go through the city’s new clean air zone, and that the new road layout would mean losing passing trade.

Sheffield's plans to reduce car traffic (Connecting Sheffield)

Sheffield's plans to reduce car traffic (Connecting Sheffield)

"One of the worst things for us is that we have lots of older customers who have been with us for years and they will no longer be able to navigate to our garage," he said.

"[The changes] are going to kill our trade, simple as that, and they are going to make it very hard for a lot of other companies."

The plans are available in full on the Connecting Sheffield website. 

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17 comments

Avatar
wycombewheeler | 12 months ago
2 likes

"runs a car repair business... and that the new road layout would mean losing passing trade."

 

sorry, do I live in a different world where when my car needs fixing I book it in for repair,

does everyone else continue driving around needing a repair, and then get it done becuase they happen to pass a car repair business while doing something else?

Avatar
JustTryingToGet... | 12 months ago
1 like

I do feel some sympathy for a car repair business which reasonably will have cars drive to it, and customers will be put off by the charges.

But it's for the greater good

The greater good

Avatar
hutchdaddy | 12 months ago
0 likes

So in summary it looks like people drive to this guys garage because they can, and for no other reason. Well in that case I hope he goes bust leaving space for someone who will provide an excellent service and won't be put off by a one off clean air payment.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to hutchdaddy | 12 months ago
1 like
hutchdaddy wrote:

So in summary it looks like people drive to this guys garage because they can, and for no other reason. .

isn't it a bit hard to take your car to the garage for repairs by active transport?

Avatar
Mungecrundle replied to wycombewheeler | 12 months ago
2 likes

If you don't have to push it to the garage then it isn't really broken.

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Owd Big 'Ead | 12 months ago
3 likes

Great news!
I used to live in Kelham Island many moons ago as the first ex-industrial sites were converted or knocked down to create residential units. With the adjacent tram stop at Shalesmoor linking into the main train station with Ponds Forge bus station just across the road, many residents in Kelham could ditch their cars altogether.
As for the garage owner, diversify or die, it's a basic business principle.

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TommyWW | 12 months ago
10 likes

Here in Sweden back in the 90's our city of 300k decided to make several streets pedestrian only, allowing delivery trucks before 10:00 am. Most businesses said they would lose business. They were wrong, business has boomed and they have fought off competition from outlying shopping centers. Areas are super attractive for residents and business now. I worked on one of these streets for 15 years and watched the transformation

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eburtthebike replied to TommyWW | 12 months ago
1 like

A pattern repeated so often that it must surely be accepted wisdom now that such changes are generally beneficial to local businesses, and the doom-mongers are wrong and just afraid of change.

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iandusud replied to eburtthebike | 12 months ago
1 like

Exactly. The evidence is there and still local businesses protest about such schemes. 

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chrisonabike replied to eburtthebike | 12 months ago
1 like

What might be remarkable to some who invoke "but that's a different culture" when some reasonably simple engineering change is suggested is that this exact pattern occurs across different countries.  Shopkeepers overestimate the business they get from people driving to and parking by their shop.  Or maybe worry that they themselves will lose flexibility with deliveries.

If business is less profitable while planning and construction is going on people blame the obvious for all of that.  It's harder after all to follow broader trends - which may be the main reason.

Finally, if the change sticks and isn't reversed pretty quickly the drama disappears as the businesses find that they're not losing money.

Here's The Hague in the Netherlands, over 40 years ago.  A similar story.  Shopkeepers up in arms.  "Direct action" - hiring builders to illegally physically demolish a cycle route no less!  Well - maybe this was not the right place, correct design and too much, too soon for them?

Now?  The infra is unexceptional.  Shopkeepers in NL are happy that people will find them, on foot or by cycling.  And it seems that in general the Hague isn't one of the better cities for cycling in the Netherlands.  Maybe it is "the culture" - but on a micro/local government level.  A city of drivers?

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ymm | 12 months ago
9 likes

Coping with change is really hard for some, even when the change is for the better in so many ways. Unwilling to accept, or embrace, change is an issue here clearly. Well done to all those authorities that can see that change is needed to boost societal progress and that more of the same just won't work anymore.

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marmotte27 | 12 months ago
1 like

Move. Anyway, garages less needed in future...

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Mungecrundle | 12 months ago
10 likes

Really they won't.

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eburtthebike | 12 months ago
17 likes

"One of the worst things for us is that we have lots of older customers who have been with us for years and they will no longer be able to navigate to our garage,"

If that's one of the worst things, maybe Mr Windle should be grateful.  Just how old are his customers that they can't deal with a change in the road system?  Should they still be driving?

Or maybe he's just a whinging NIMBY who is unable to accept change, no matter how beneficial for society.

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Rendel Harris replied to eburtthebike | 12 months ago
10 likes

Sounds like a great opportunity to diversify into a cargo-bike-based mobile repairs service, doesn't it?

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Secret_squirrel replied to eburtthebike | 12 months ago
9 likes

How much frikken passing trade does a repair garage get anyway?  Utter BS. 

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IanMK replied to eburtthebike | 12 months ago
2 likes

Being able to follow a sat nav is now part of a driving test. I wonder if he also supports retesting drivers as part of his efforts to stay in business?

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