Council decision to close 'cycling utopia' Snake Pass branded 'ludicrous'

The A57 between Sheffield and Glossop was closed to motor traffic due to a landslide, but that has now been extended to cyclists and walkers

Snake Pass
Author Simon Warren on the Snake Pass
(Image credit: Instagram/Simon Warren)

The decision to close Snake Pass to cyclists and walkers has been called "ludicrous" by the author Simon Warren (opens in new tab), describing the road without cars as "cycling utopia".

The road, the A57 between Sheffield and Glossop, was shut by Derbyshire County Council for at least four weeks to motor traffic on February 21 after heavy rain caused a number of landslips.

As a result, the famous road was inundated by cyclists who wanted to try it out free of the dangers of vehicles on it.

However, after a week of car-free cycling, the council has moved further to restrict all users of the road on Tuesday, allowing only local traffic to have access.

Warren said that the council were "being spoilsports" and that they had "shot themselves in the foot" by making the decision.

He explained how he came to discover the empty road: "A week or so ago there was a rumour that there had been a landslide and it was shut, so me and one of the dads from school went out and lo and behold, there were road closed signs.

"On the Sheffield side, there's been a landslide which has taken away a bit under the road, but it was perfectly good for cycling. So we went all the way over the top and back and it was awesome. 

"We found a bit of cycling utopia, because it's a scary road, but it's a beautiful road. Fantastic, twisty and turning, into Glossop. It would have made it into my first book but it didn't because it was so busy. All of a sudden it's empty of cars and it's just brilliant."

However, despite the fact that it is "safer than it has ever been", according to the author, the council has decided to close the road due to concerns that there may be an accident.

A spokesman for the authority said: "There is still traffic on the road, as people live there and we have vehicles going up to monitor the landslip and carry out other work on other parts of the road.

"We are very concerned that there will be an accident involving a vehicle and a cyclist because of the large numbers of cyclists that have taken the opportunity to go out and ride the road."

"The car lobby got a bit upset, that cyclists were getting all the fun when they couldn't use it," Warren said. "Someone in the council said it was too dangerous for cyclists to use, because there could be an accident. It's safer than it has ever been! Then there was a sign put up saying it was closed to cyclists. They have not been actively stopping people during the week, and people were still going up at the weekend. 

"Yesterday Derbyshire County Council put their message up saying it was closed 24 hours a day until they fix it. It is ludicrous. It does seem like they're just being spoilsports. We're all grownups here, let people take the chance."

The extra footfall from those using Snake Pass could have been a boon for the local area, Warren argued, who lives close by.

"It has become a tourist attraction... people were dropping everything just to ride this one road," he said. "Glossop should capitalise on this, get some money in, not just shut it off. They've shot themselves in the foot there."

As a result of the decision, a group has decided to organise (opens in new tab) a mass trespass on the road by cyclists and walkers. They will be meeting at Square West in Glossop on Saturday at 2pm.

One of those involved, Harry Gray, said that the decision to close the road is "laughable".

"Snake Pass has been closed because of a landslip, we agree that this section should remain closed to cyclists and walkers for safety reasons," he said in a statement. "However, closing the entire road is unfair and potentially not legal. The claim that it is dangerous because of works vehicles is laughable, since the road is one of the most dangerous when open to motor vehicles. 

"All that is needed is a sign to let people know there is still traffic using the road. Derbyshire Council have taken no previous steps to make the road safer for cyclists, like an average speed check, in the past - so why do they care so much now?"

A local councillor, Damien Greenhalgh, echoed these comments. He tweeted: "Agree it's OVERKILL to close it entirely to walkers and cyclists given the dangerous section is a relatively small section. And as a bare minimal [sic]it could be used from either end even if closed to through traffic."

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Hello, I'm Cycling Weekly's digital staff writer. I like pretending to be part of the great history of cycling writing, and acting like a pseudo-intellectual in general. 


Before joining the team here I wrote for Procycling for almost two years, interviewing riders and writing about racing. My favourite event is Strade Bianche, but I haven't quite made it to the Piazza del Campo just yet.


Prior to covering the sport of cycling, I wrote about ecclesiastical matters for the Church Times and politics for Business Insider. I have degrees in history and journalism.