Proposals to relocate the South Parade road closure: our response

Leeds Cycling Campaign recently wrote to the Council to object to a proposal to change a road closure on South Parade in Headingley.

We argued that the proposal to relocate the closure will re-provide a rat run along Derwentwater Terrace and Ash Road – very similar to the situation prior to installation of the current temporary closure, when the rat run was up Ash Gardens to Ash Road.

We outlined the following issues on behalf of our members:

  1. It seems likely that presence of the new barrier will simply relocate the issue caused by outbound vehicles to Derwentwater Terrace and Ash Road, not necessarily resolving the problem of inbound vehicles approaching the southern end of South Parade from either Derwentwater Terrace or Derwentwater Grove.
  2. The reinstatement of through traffic will lead to conflict between inbound cycles on the designated Leeds Core Cycle Network West Park cycle route, and vehicles travelling North. Cyclists travelling downhill along Ash Gardens and Ash Crescent will be in conflict with vehicles crossing their path as the vehicles turn into Derwentwater Terrace. Collision information from Headingley suggests that a vehicle turning right across a cyclist’s path, where the cyclist is proceeding straight on and has priority, is one of the most common causes of car-cycle collisions which can be very serious for the cyclist.
  3. The proposal will cause issues for the outbound cycle journey, as the increase in vehicle traffic will create additional risks for cyclists navigating the right-left turn from Cardigan Road into South Parade.
  4. The installation of a permanent build-out will make it even more difficult for cyclists travelling along South Parade to negotiate the junction with Derwentwater Grove.
  5. The increase in traffic will make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross South Parade on the busy pedestrian route Kirkstall Lane to North Lane.
  6. Vehicle traffic at the junction of Ash Road with Headingley Mount will increase, and Headingley Mount which is already difficult for pedestrians to cross, will become even more of a barrier to pedestrians.
  7. The cycle permeability channels through the proposed new barrier, as shown on the plans appear to be very narrow. A width of at least 1.5m should be provided here to enable cyclists with modified bicycles, tricycles or trailers (for example carrying children) to safely negotiate the barrier.

We objected on the basis that there is insufficient justification to relocate the barrier and create a permanent barrier at a cost of almost £24k. Traffic volumes along Derwentwater Grove are very low and if residential streets are blighted by rat-running vehicles the solution is concerted action over several streets to relocate the traffic onto main roads where effective provision for pedestrians and cyclists can be provided, preventing conflicts.

Temporary barriers, while open to complaints from residents and suggestions they be moved, are a flexible way of identifying effective solutions to traffic problems. This should be carried out hand in hand with encouragement for drivers undertaking short journeys under 3 miles or journeys effectively served by public transport to change to more efficient and sustainable forms of transport, in line with the City’s stated strategies on carbon emissions, air quality, health and economic development.

This scheme seeks to implement a permanent solution but there is no evidence that this solution will be effective, therefore making it permanent, at a very substantial cost, seems a poor course of action. Surely it would be more appropriate to undertake analysis of traffic volumes, collisions and conflicts before and after relocating the temporary barriers? The only benefit to the council of a permanent barrier appears to be that it cannot be relocated and therefore the council will be able to justify a refusal to bow to any future complaints or evidence showing the wrong decision had been taken.