Leeds Cycling Consultation Forum, Wednesday 18th April 2013

Cycle Cities Ambition Bid

* It’s really good to see a commitment to high quality infrastructure for A64 and A647 in the Bid (they have said including priority at junctions though we haven't seen the detailed plans yet) and an innovative shared space solution for Stanningley centre.

* the soft measures in the bid (training, parking, cycle hubs, etc) sound good but need to be backed up with big changes to the highway network.

* We are still concerned about the lack of clear plans for the City Centre, and disappointed that this wasn't addressed earlier in drawing up the bid, though I realise the plans have changed a lot during the process.   Mark Robinson reported that the bid, at quite a late stage, had come up with improvements for the city centre, but he did not disclose these because the required approval / agreement had not been obtained.

* Providing high quality segregated cycling facilities without altering the road environment is expensive. Taking space from general traffic lanes achieves the dual aims of improving facilities for cyclists while making driving relatively less attractive. It is sad to see that Leeds’ continued policy of maintaining highway capacity means the provision of cycle facilities is much more expensive than it needs to be.



* The cycling strategy's first section reads as very aspirational ("cycling will become the natural choice for short journeys")

* The revised draft Tim Parry presented made a much stronger commitment to design new cycle infrastructure to recommended, not minimum standards.  Rather depressingly, he expected this to be watered down or removed at subsequent stages.

* There still needs to be a commitment to true integration of design for pedestrians and cyclists in the development process of the highway environment, rather than the current system where schemes are designed to optimise vehicle flow and safety, and pedestrian and cycle provision is made at a later stage if it can be included without inconveniencing the vehicle flows. 

* The argument of lack of specific funding is always given, but a lot could be done within existing road renewal schemes if Highways had the commitment and understanding.

* We feel the Strategy would benefit from more specific actions on the cycling environment - not to the level of individual streets and areas, which of course cannot be planned in detail at this stage, but the London Mayor's strategy contains some nice specifics like Mini-Hollands, Cross rail for cycles, and Cycle Greenways. The implementation arm for highways is primarily based around the Core Cycle Network which has had mixed feedback and, when compared to the network already optimised for vehicles, is limited to a few specific routes.

* There is a huge problem with perception of danger associated with cycling, generally in the UK but particularly in Leeds. Most people won’t consider trying it as a transport measure. If this strategy is to achieve anywhere near its stated aspirations, more widespread measures to address the general highways environment are needed.  The revised draft strategy now acknowledges this barrier and talks loosely of ‘rebalancing highway provisions’ which is a small forward step.

* In order to make cycling “the natural choice for short journeys”, driving must not be the natural choice for short journeys. (UCL’s report for the DfT, “Transport, Physical Activity and Health” states “The key relationship is between car use and physical activity. In order to increase levels of physical activity, it is necessary to reduce car use.” This, in our view, will require some active measures to make driving less attractive. For example, changes to road capacity; priority for walking and cycling at junctions and side roads; car parking charges; congestion charge; and use of a technique called ‘filtered permeability’, often using bollards or road closures to vehicles: thus a vehicle journey from A to B is made relatively longer and more inconvenient, while the corresponding journey on foot or bicycle is made quicker and more pleasant.

* The West Yorkshire LTP contains a commitment to aim to hold private vehicle use at 2012 levels despite planned growth in the city’s population. “Demand management” for vehicles is therefore part of the strategy. Especially given the commitment to new road building spelled out in the City Deals transport announcement, this would allow for specific treatments in some areas to reduce vehicle traffic and encourage walking and cycling.


Harrogate Road Improvements

The client for the council, Paul Foster, presented some revised drawings which appeared to show that the consultation feedback in favour of a northbound cycle lane had been acknowledged and that the revised proposals would provide improvements for cyclists.  Whether the serious concerns addressed in the ‘Motorway City of the 70s’ blog post have been properly addressed will only be clear when the plans can be looked at in more detail.


A few more minor points raised in the meeting:

* As far as we can tell there is no new cycle parking associated with Trinity Leeds, though it was promised in the planning stages.

* The announcement of the new Victoria Gate development included provision of 800 car parking spaces and said nothing about cycle parking or facilities.

* The press release on City Deals (http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/glimp...) talks mainly about roads and trains, and there's no mention of walking and cycling - though Ali Pilling of Metro assured us that improvements to the city centre for walking and cycling are planned as part of this change. Given the amount of ongoing publicity for Leeds hosting the 2014 Tour de France, it's sad that the Council saw no reason to use this announcement as an opportunity to be seen to promote and encourage active travel.

* New Generation Transport (NGT): a further meeting of the NGT subgroup is planned for mid June to review final plans in advance of submission to Highways Board, and then public consultation


David Hall (sustrans) said something which really sums up what we should be aiming for: "every road and street in Leeds should be pleasant to walk and cycle".