'Tour du Danger'

The following article refers to Leeds Cycling Action group (LCAG), the predecessor of Leeds Cycling Campaign - you may see some familar faces in these photos!

Following the success of London’s Tour du Danger in November 2011, Leeds Cycling Action Group decided to use one of our Action Evenings to tackle some of Leeds’ most difficult areas. On 5th July a group of intrepid riders assembled at Cyclepoint by Leeds railway station, and departed into the evening traffic in dull, rainy conditions, to cycle Leeds’ first Tour du Danger. We negotiated the potholed surface of Wellington Street down to the junction of Kirkstall Road with the A58(M). Once we’d worked out where to leave the road, a separated, shared use path allows cyclists to use the North side of Wellington Road Westbound towards the infamous Armley Gyratory.

Alan 'takes the lane'

This large and very busy roundabout is always a trouble spot of congestion in Leeds and is often mentioned on the radio traffic news! In order to try it out, we rode up Armley Road, a quiet industrial road parallel to the A647 (Canal St). We regrouped at the junction and then pulled out from the sliproad into the drizzle. Navigating the Gyratory in a bunch was very different to attempting it alone! We were taking a difficult option, not following the main flow of traffic left into town, but holding the middle lane through the traffic lights and down towards the motorway, turning left after Dunelm Mills back onto quieter roads. The group was separated by the traffic lights but we were all reunited safely on the other side. Although this was the first time on the Gyratory for some of us, even the most experienced riders felt more confident navigating the roundabout in a group.

Lizzie being cut-up approaching the gyratory

Next, we had a chance to enjoy some almost traffic-free roads just outside the city centre, following Holbeck Lane and Sweet Street through the industrial area of Holbeck, under the railway lines. Of course in Leeds the next complicated multi-lane junction isn’t far away and the next task was the junction at the top of Dewsbury Road. Taking the middle lane once again, we followed the road around to the right onto Great Wilson Street and then left onto Crown Point Road. Once again we needed to take the middle lane through the junction and up through the railway viaduct arches, past the bus station and the West Yorkshire Playhouse towards Sheepscar junction.

The group negotiated Regent Street, location of some planned changes by the Council, and then briefly struggled with the infrastructure. A network of red tarmac links the various routes that run through Sheepscar, and we agreed that once we’ve learned how to use them, they feel much less threatening than trying to change lanes on the wide expanse of bare tarmac occupied by several columns of vehicles. The only difficulty approaching from Regent Street is how to get onto the red tarmac! There’s a small dropped kerb on the left, just before the pedestrian crossing at the end of Sheepscar St South, but travelling at a reasonable speed it’s easy to miss – especially in a bunch.

Sheepscar chaos

We eventually regrouped on the opposite side of the road and navigated the various crossings over to Chapeltown Road. The infrastructure also gives easy access to Roundhay Road and Scott Hall Road. As we travelled up Chapeltown Road we passed a skip parked across a cycle path, the subject of numerous comments on LCAG’s facebook page.

Avoiding the skip

And just a little further along the road, a licensed hackney carriage across the cycle path! Enough said.

Selfish parking

The route then took a short and slightly hilly tour of the inner part of North Leeds, crossing Scott Hall Road and Meanwood Road and testing the riders’ confidence in right turns across both. One rider shared an experience of a near miss on Buslingthorpe Lane: it’s a narrow road, used as a cut-through between Scott Hall and Meanwood roads, and at the hill crest the road isn’t really wide enough for two vehicles. It’s an exciting descent though!

Descent from the 'col'

After skirting the back of the Eastern part of Woodhouse Moor, it was a straightforward swoop down the hill to the pub for a well deserved glass of pop.

Is there a difficult junction or road that you’d like to tackle on a future Tour of Leeds? Please contact us and let us know!