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

Work on big-money active travel schemes in Sheffield has been postponed until the end of 2023, but the council insists it "remains committed" to completing the proposals which were meant to be finished next month...

With one month until active travel projects in Sheffield were due to be completed and no sign of work even beginning until November 2023, some campaigners are concerned projects are being delayed for political reasons, with one Labour Party source saying the council leader does not like cycling because he thinks it is "middle-class".

However, speaking to road.cc council leader Terry Fox rubbished the claim, saying he has "always thought cycling is for everyone" and pointed to his voting record as proof of his belief in active travel schemes.

Despite the funding already being in place, five major 'Connecting Sheffield' projects have now been delayed by years and will not begin construction until the autumn at the earliest, raising concerns and prompting the council to insist it "remains committed" to the scheme.

However, one Labour source told Now Then that the leader of the council, currently a coalition of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green representatives, Cllr Fox "doesn't like cycling because he thinks it is middle-class".

The council leader responded to the comment, telling road.cc being "accused by someone anonymous of something I cannot recall saying is upsetting" and "does sometimes get through this thick skin of mine".

"I have to say that I do have feelings and to be accused by someone anonymous of something I cant recall saying is upsetting and then to get all the correspondence of not very nice comments does sometimes get through this thick skin of mine," he said.

"As a miner for over 30 years who sometimes rode a bicycle to work and saw lots of my fellow comrades doing that with snap bag over one arm and towel under the other, riding to the pit for the start of their shift is a memory I will hold and cherish. My best mucker still rides avidly along with my son, they did a charity bike ride for the Lord Mayor's charity few years back.

"I also taught my children and grandchildren to ride and even bought their bikes, just last week buying my youngest grandchild his bike.

"I'm now disabled from my time in the mines, with my knees and respiratory condition but have always thought cycling is for everyone, as can be seen by my voting record on a number of schemes across the city."

The 'Connecting Sheffield' schemes will see active travel infrastructure built, including some temporary cycle lanes being made permanent and should have been completed by March 2023.

It had been feared the government could have withheld the funding, awarded to Sheffield City Council under its Transforming Cities Fund, due to the delay but the Department for Transport confirmed to Now Then that funding has been delivered and the deadline possibly abandoned due to nationwide supply shortages.

However, concerns about the promptness of the work remain, and nearby Leeds already started construction on similar projects, also to be funded by TCF money, back in August last year.

Sheffield received its funding at the same time as its Yorkshire counterparts but work will begin 15 months later at the earliest.

A spokesperson for CycleSheffield told road.cc: "We believe the planned schemes will be delivered, however, the long delays to these schemes during a period of high inflation means that what will be delivered will need to be scaled back or other cost-cutting measures applied. We will therefore not receive the same benefit and less active travel trips will be enabled as we would if the council had prioritised delivery of these schemes.

"We accept that Brexit, Covid and 12 years of austerity have reduced the council's ability to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects and increased costs, however, it is clear that Sheffield has been slower than other cities — for example Leeds — in delivering these kind of schemes. It is felt that this is due to a lack of enthusiasm for active travel amongst some senior politicians in Sheffield Council.

"I would also like to point out that about 50 per cent of the undelivered Transforming Cities Fund schemes are for public transport improvements and these delays are impacting upon bus and tram users as well as people who would like to walk and cycle."

Is cycling middle-class?

Commenting on the Labour source's comments about the council leader, Now Then highlighted 2021 statistics from the Department for Transport which showed more workers in routine and manual occupations travel by bike (2.7%) than those in managerial or professional positions (2%). Likewise, those in the middle income brackets, the results suggested, are also much more likely than those on lower incomes to travel by car.

In 2018, London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman said that the English capital needed to shed its white, male, middle-class cyclist image and encourage women and people from ethnic minorities onto bikes.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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61 comments

Avatar
Mungecrundle | 12 months ago
2 likes

I have visited Sheffield several times over the last couple of years, including this last week. It's actually a great city; generally clean, vibrant, feels safe and once you ditch the car the public transport is easy to use and cheap. The city centre is heavily engineered towards being pedestrian friendly with a lot of investment and refurbishment in evidence.

Not so sure about the city cycle hire scheme though.

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eburtthebike | 12 months ago
4 likes

Terry Fox rubbished the claim, saying he has "always thought cycling is for everyone"........

and:

......five major 'Connecting Sheffield' projects have now been delayed by years and will not begin construction until the autumn at the earliest....

Believe what people do, not what they say.

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jaymack replied to eburtthebike | 12 months ago
3 likes

Deeds not words as the Sufferagettes would have put it.

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wtjs replied to jaymack | 12 months ago
0 likes

Deeds not words as the Suffragettes would have put it

That was just a way to get this irrelevant shot in! Who could it be?

Sorry- had to delete this- it was a screenshot from BBC iPlayer, but it doesn't come out- have they disabled screenshots?

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srchar | 12 months ago
13 likes

I only took up cycling to do my bit in the class war. Fuck the plebs in their cars that cost ten times more to fuel than my bike does. Let me eat cake.

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bob zmyuncle | 1 year ago
1 like

Quite prepared to believe Terry Fox is a complete cockwomble. However there's also council elections coming up so I might want to question the veracity of the 'Labour source'.

That's before I notice that the auther of this piece used to write for the Daily Express - I'm not a conspiracy theorist.

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Kendalred | 1 year ago
4 likes

Given the current lurch away from the Left by the Labour Party, I would have thought said Council Leader might be falling over himself to pander to the Middle classes.

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LeadenSkies | 1 year ago
7 likes

There is nothing as middle class as needing to save a few quid on parking / petrol / bus fares by cycling to work or to the shops. Me thinks he needs to distinguish between hobby cycling which can be fairly middle class and cycling because it saves time /money.

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Capt Sisko | 1 year ago
3 likes

When racism, sexism, agism and just about every other ism is either legislated or peer pressured against, how come the Labour party, or any other party for that matter allowed to play that card. Shame on them.

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ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago
15 likes

Call me crazy, but I suspect the council leader is just a regular MGIF arsehole motorist who is dressing up his selfishness and impatience as class warfare.

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brooksby replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago
3 likes
ubercurmudgeon wrote:

Call me crazy, but I suspect the council leader is just a regular MGIF arsehole motorist who is dressing up his selfishness and impatience impotence as class warfare.

Fixed it for you.

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Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
7 likes

Maybe Councillor Terry Fox just doesn't really see himself on a bicycle.

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headingley replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
11 likes

"Brexit" "Covid" "cost of living crisis" all excuses. Look 35 miles north to Leeds (and West Yorkshire in general) and you will see a massive expansion of cycle infrastructure. Not quite Netherlands yet but trying hard ! Leeds got funds during Covid and built schems it had already got plans for, it has re-modelled a large part of the city centre over the last 3 years - all with pretty extensive cycle provision. Currently, it  is consulting on plans to upgrade the A660 (busiest cycle route in the city)  corridor with very impressive cycle (and pedestrian) provision - and its not an add-on to a new road scheme !

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birzzles | 1 year ago
3 likes

Demonstrating the basic bigotry common to the left wing.  

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fukawitribe replied to birzzles | 1 year ago
12 likes

Hmmm, bigotry you say ? Interesting...

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OldRidgeback replied to birzzles | 1 year ago
4 likes

Funny that, I always thought bigotry was the largely the preserve of the right.

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hawkinspeter replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
15 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

Funny that, I always thought bigotry was the largely the preserve of the right.

I'd say it's more the preserve of the stupid, but there's certainly some right wing groups that thrive on bigotry.

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marmotte27 replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
5 likes

So you're saying the right are stupid? You're onto something there I guess...

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hawkinspeter replied to marmotte27 | 12 months ago
4 likes
marmotte27 wrote:

So you're saying the right are stupid? You're onto something there I guess...

My first reaction on hearing about right wing politics is the evilness, but then Capitalism is all about exploitation anyway. Often people just go along with what society tells them, so maybe it's more about conforming than being stupid.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
1 like

Whereas left wing politics is all sweetness and light?

Pick up a history book when you get a chance.

You might be in for a surprise.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 12 months ago
3 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

Whereas left wing politics is all sweetness and light? Pick up a history book when you get a chance. You might be in for a surprise.

Well yeah, the big problem is that the people who want power are usually the very worst people to be given power.

Maybe a more useful categorisation is whether to concentrate or distribute power, but obviously the extremes of both are problematic. I think currently the world has concentrated too much power into the hands of the wealthy, but that's inevitable under Capitalism.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
1 like

Generally speaking the worst atrocities in human history have been committed when the state/government has the most power.

That holds true for left and right.

Disempower the state and the chances of evil diminish.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 12 months ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

Generally speaking the worst atrocities in human history have been committed when the state/government has the most power.

That holds true for left and right.

Disempower the state and the chances of evil diminish.

However the state/law is the main way that powerful people/businesses can be reigned in. It needs to be a balancing act.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
2 likes

A properly regulated free market reigns in business power.

It doesn't require a big state to do that, just well written regulations to curb monopolies.

If you look at where privatisation has failed most spectacularly it's where monopolies have been allowed to persist.

Railways, water companies etc.

If you look at where competition is ferocious the customer benefits from improved service and/or reduced prices.

Mobile phone services, broadband, budget airlines.

Monopolies are always bad for the customer.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 12 months ago
7 likes

"Properly regulated" is doing some heavy lifting there.

I agree about monopolies.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
0 likes

Glad you're on board with dismantling the NHS.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 12 months ago
6 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

Glad you're on board with dismantling the NHS.

Huh? Where do you get that from?

If you mean that the NHS is a monopoly, then I'd disagree.

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Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
6 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
Rich_cb wrote:

Glad you're on board with dismantling the NHS.

Huh? Where do you get that from? If you mean that the NHS is a monopoly, then I'd disagree.

It's one of the right's favourite tropes, particularly over the last few years where they really have been pushing hard to dismantle the NHS and flog it piecemeal to the Americans, that the NHS has a monopoly on healthcare in the UK. Of course it's nonsense, there's nothing stopping suitably licenced companies offering healthcare provision in the UK and competing with the NHS but none of them have ever been able to offer anything remotely like the value the average person gets in return for their taxes. So, as the private sector is incapable of competing, they want the NHS demolished so they're only competing with similar companies in a nice little cartel.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 12 months ago
3 likes

There's plenty of private clinics available and personally I use a private dentist as it's tricky finding an NHS one that takes on new clients.

Everyone should have access to healthcare services even if they have no income stream, but too many people see it as purely a cost rather than an essential part of civilisation.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 12 months ago
0 likes

It is for the majority of the population.

How much does it cost to have a baby in a non NHS hospital?

That gives the NHS a monopoly for 95%+ of births.

It's the same for almost all healthcare, most people simply cannot afford an alternative so the NHS has an effective monopoly for almost all health interventions for the majority of the population.

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