UPDATE: our appearance at the NGT Public Inquiry was on Tuesday 23rd September. You can read our statement to the public inquiry, and audio recordings including cross-examination are available from Cosmic Claire's blog.
'New Generation Transport' conjures up images of Maglev monorails, personal jet-packs, and teleportation... Leeds NGT is a trolleybus. You can read all the official blurb and see plans of the route here. It's electric, which means quiet and non-polluting (locally anyway - we still need Drax to power it), but also means it needs lots of overhead cables and masts.
NGT, according to the current set of plans, will have significant benefits for cycling in some places. But it is planned to pass along the most-cycled route in Leeds: some areas will be more difficult for cycling, and the business case projects a decrease in cycling, which doesn't seem compatible with Leeds' attempt to project a cycle-friendly image. The standard of cycle facilities along the NGT route isn't designed so that everyone can cycle - young and old, experienced and nervous - and we think that's a problem.
The project is now in Public Inquiry which started on 29th April. We appeared at the inquiry on Tuesday 23rd September to put the case for cycling on the NGT route and clarify to the Inspector our objections. There is an inquiry website with all the documentation, timetables and written representations from the promoters of the scheme and objectors to it. If you want to keep up to date, reports and audio recordings of previous sessions are available from Cosmic Claire's blog.
Before and during the inquiry we have met with Sean and Andy from the NGT team to go through the most recent set of plans to see whether any of the points in the original Objection to the scheme were satisfactorily resolved. Some of our minor objections have been resolved, namely 7, 11, 12, a, b, c, f, g, h, k, n, o, p, q and s - some of these subject to a satisfactory agreement with the promoters about detailed designs. You can download the updated version with comments, below or at the bottom of this page.
Please feel free to contact us by email contact <at> leedscyclingcampaign.co.uk or on facebook, or respond to our newsletter or emails, and let us know what you think.
Link to our updated Objection, with comments on the latest set of plans.
We are now approaching the Public Inquiry for NGT, where all the objectors (including Leeds Cycling Campaign) will have a chance to make their case, and be cross-examined by representatives of NGT. You can see all the inquiry paperwork here though beware, there's an awful lot of it! We've submitted our documents to the Inquiry and they are:
- Proof of Evidence Summary - an introduction to our objection (had to be under 1500 words)
- Proof of Evidence Detail - more detail on some of the points in our objection
- our Original Objection in full
- 'Transport in Leeds - a Sustainable Future' - a suggestion for an alternative - what should Leeds be doing instead?
Again we welcome members' comments on how we're doing!
Leeds Cycling Campaign got involved in trying to ensure plans for the NGT considered cyclists. Initially, there was serious doubt that we'd be able to use the new dedicated NGT lanes, meaning a significant reduction in cycle facilities on the route. After some serious campaigning though, we managed to improve things somewhat. We're now taking part in another series of meetings with the NGT team and you can read more about them in NGT: the Detail, Part 1. You can also read our policy statement on NGT.
New Generation Transport (NGT) is the trolleybus scheme proposed for Leeds as the first step in a trolleybus network. The proposed route starts on the North side of Leeds, with a park and ride site at the old Bodington Hall site with space for 850 vehicles, and runs South along the A660 Otley Road / Headingley Lane, through the city centre and along Hunslet Road to Stourton where a second park and ride with 1500 spaces will be sited.
The impact on cycling
The trolleybus route uses the A660 Otley Road / Headingley Lane, probably the route with the highest demand for cycling in the city. The plans include a dedicated NGT lane where the width allows, and lots of changes to the road layout are proposed.
It’s standard practice where there is a bus lane in Leeds not to provide a separate cycle lane. And NGT is built on existing assumptions so where there is a lane for NGT, cyclists can share this lane but there isn’t a separate cycle lane provided, except where NGT is sharing with general traffic or the NGT lane is too narrow or fast to allow space for safe overtaking.
Not all cyclists will be happy sharing their space with NGT, which will be a very quiet articulated vehicle, a bit like the ‘hyperlink’ bendy buses on the Leeds-Bradford route. Of course, having got all excited about the Cycle Superhighway we would prefer a high quality Dutch-style cycle route on the A660, but this is not on the menu at the moment. NGT vehicles will appear only once every 4-6 minutes, so for a lot of the time cyclists will have an NGT-only lane to themselves. We might just have to get wing mirrors.
The scheme is planned on the basis of existing levels of vehicle traffic and no expectation of a substantial growth in cycling or walking. Ithas to go through a cost-benefit analysis and this has the effect of valuing vehicle waiting time more than that of active travellers, so the scheme would become financially unviable if it planned for an increase in walking and cycling at the expense of private cars and taxis.
It’s also worth noting that it’s been specifically pointed out to us that NGT is not a cycling scheme. That means unlike the Superhighway there’s no emphasis on getting new people onto bikes, so the planners have assumed that cyclists will have reasonable competence in traffic, or will be happy to pootle around the busier junctions using toucan crossings.