Leeds: Ambitions to be a Cycling City

So Leeds has submitted a bid for some of the Cycle Cities Ambition Fund.


Here's our letter of support (under our previous name):

Support for the “Highways to Health” bid

Leeds Cycling Action Group warmly supports Leeds City Region’s bid to the Cycle Cities Ambition Fund.  We welcome the long term plan of making cycling a natural and popular choice for short journeys in Leeds, and the aims and plans set out in the bid documentation.

Leeds Cycling Action Group is the main member-led local cycling organisation in Leeds, with approximately 250 members throughout the Leeds area. Our activities include engagement and consultation with Leeds City Council, support for utility cycling, recreational weekend bike rides, and organising and participating in events such as Bike week and promotion of new cycle routes.

The stated ambition of 10% of all journeys in 2025 and 25% by 2050 is an ambition we fully support, in line with the recent All Party Parliamentary Group report, and the Vision document and long term Strategy for Cycling that have been developed alongside this bid will be instrumental in achieving a sustained, durable shift in transport patterns. It is heartening to see the Council so committed to supporting what we regard as the best form of transport, and the plans laid out in this bid will create a firm foundation to build a true cycling city in the North of England.

As stated in the bid, Leeds and Bradford are in need of further investment in cycling infrastructure. The opportunity presented by the Tour de France is a once-in-a-generation chance to capitalise on a wave of enthusiasm for leisure cycling and convert this into a legacy of cycle transport as a real and natural choice.

We welcome the commitment to a high quality, continental style East-West cycle superhighway, with junction redesign to allow cycle priority. Provision of a cycle route to link future housing and commercial developments with areas of existing employment need, limited transport mobility and vulnerable groups, directly and conveniently to the city centre represents a step change in planning for cycling in West Yorkshire.

Plans to extend this excellent infrastructure throughout the city centre will propagate experience of safe, convenient cycling to a massive audience. All those who cycle in and around Leeds will benefit from new high quality cycle parking and the planned Cycle City Loop; and novice and less confident cyclists will particularly benefit from the development of the canal towpath linking central Leeds to the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales. Widespread 20mph residential zones are welcome, and will help not only to promote cycling but improve road safety and create more liveable communities and assist in Leeds’ aim to be the best city for children.

The project includes a comprehensive behavioural change programme, to be overseen by a new multi-sector engagement team. We applaud the good work done by the LSTF-funded West Yorkshire go:cycling project on training and engagement, and look forward to seeing these behavioural change initiatives continued and strengthened in this project.

It is encouraging to see this bid addressing the current perception of cycling as a niche activity, and appreciating how important it will be to address the concerns of those who feel they are not stakeholders in this scheme, by allowing every citizen of Leeds to picture themselves enjoying cycling. This bid will enable the city to recognise the strong latent demand for cycling, in time to benefit from the excitement around the Tour de France. Technological developments such as electric-assisted bicycles will help overcome the geographical challenges.

Establishment of a novel active travel organisation to manage the fund will ensure that delivery is of a high standard and the necessary partners are engaged throughout the lifetime of the project and beyond. It is vital to subsequent phases of the plan that continued capital and revenue funding have been identified as part of Leeds City Council’s ongoing funding commitments, and the Council have demonstrated their strong track record in effectively delivering substantial projects.

The bid is supported by a strong group of stakeholders, including representatives from Health, Metro and the Tour de France legacy team, alongside our national cycling friends Sustrans and the CTC. The Council have committed to take forward the strategy and vision sparked by this opportunity, as the aims so clearly support the Council’s and the City Region’s aims in areas including transport, health, wellbeing, road safety, and carbon emissions. The Council’s recent intensive engagement with cyclists to mitigate impacts of the New Generation Transport trolleybus scheme has shown how successful relationships between user groups, scheme designers, and council officers can be built. We look forward to maintaining and developing these relationships when contributing to the detailed design stages of these proposals.

The Council clearly recognise that “transport is not just how you get around. ... Cycling shapes a city – for all its people, cyclists or not – in ways that are almost always good.” As this project develops, the Council will be able to demonstrate to citizens that a cycling Leeds is a cleaner, healthier, happier and more liveable Leeds.

We thank the Council and partners for their work in putting the application together, and look forward to taking part in putting these plans into practice and enjoying the benefits of a cycling city.