Cookridge Street is a short stretch of road in the city centre - have a look at the Google map on the main Campaigns page. If you have ever tried to cycle from the University area down to the railway station, you'll know why Cookridge Street is important - and why the current situation is not good. Try it. You can wiggle your way across Millennium Square, down the norther portion of Cookridge Street and then you have to cross The Loop. There's only one pedestrian crossing (right had side looking south) and it's very often crowded - in fact sometime people spill into the road. The left hand side has no crossing, although people still use it. Assuming you make it across, what next? The southern portion of Cookridge Street is one way, and the wrong way for those station-bound. It's not at all busy though. There are usually a few parked cars, and occasional traffic leaving The Light car park via St Anne's street. This means most cyclists ignore the one-way and cycle carefully down to the Headrow junction. Pushing on the pavement here is not really an option as it too is often crowded.
Given the very light traffic use the obvious people-friendly option seems to be to pedestrianise the street. Pedestrians and cyclists could then wander at will. Perhaps some car parking would still be needed but by pedestrianising the street the priority would be made very clear. Blocking off the Headrow and St Anne's Road entrances to vehicles would finish the job nicely.
Leeds cyclists have been lobbying the council for a scheme like this for years, literally more than 10. So far, nothing - cars take priority in this city. Just recently however, either due to campaigning pressure (we managed to get the Head of Highways to a meeting and made the case very strongly) or because NGT will be using Cookridge Street too (if it goes ahead), the council have produced a plan. They are proposing an advisory (dashed line) contra flow cycle lane on the southern section. There would be no change to vehicle use.
On the face of it this is *something* but not really anything more than a token gesture - an acknowledgement of what already happens. Why asked why the St Anne's Road junction needs to remain open and why the cycle lane could not be mandatory etc we were told, in effect, it wasn't possible. Really. Well this isn't good enough. So, we have asked for more details and a meeting with the council's highways officer Tim Parry has been arranged.
Situations like Cookridge Street exist all over Leeds and are examples of how the city needs to change to prioritise walking and cycling over vehicles. Leeds has long been a car-loving "Motorways city of the 70s". Trouble is, it's now the 21st century and cities that fail to change will start to fail.
As always, we'll post updates as and when they occur. Why not post your Cookridge Street experiences, and ideas, on our Facebook page?