Last week I attended a meeting a Lister Hill Baptist Church in Horsforth to discuss the problem of Scotland Lane. The meeting had been arranged by local resident and equestrian Carrie Emmerson. It was chaired by Cllr Dawn Collins and Nick Hunt from Leeds City Council's Highways Deaprtment was in attendance. The rest of the room was filled with 70+ folk who cared, and cared passionately, about the current sorry state of affairs.
So what's so bad about Scotland Lane? Well it connects the airport with Horsforth, and onwards to Leeds. It you take a look on a map you'll see it, and bed-fellow Bayton Lane which does much the same thing but a little further west. Both roads are two lanes, but those lanes are narrow and bendy. Traffic is fast, and some traffic dangerously so. Few cyclists use either because of this, which effectively cuts off Yeadon/Guiseley from Horsforth. Scotland Lane has a residential area at its southern end when it joins Brownberrie Lane, plus several stables. Herein lies the problem.
You all know how to pass horses when driving a car, right? Same as for cyclists - wide and slow. Taking a blind bend at 50 mph, ending up on the wrong side of the road heading for a horse and rider will not do. Neither will screeching up behind, then speeding past so close you knock the rider's stirrups. These aren't imaginary events, they are happening all the time.
Cllr Collins asked attendees to explain their experiences and the result was depressing. Dozens and dozens of riders complained of near misses, some of actual collisions, and acts of gross selfishness and stupidity from drivers. Others complained of similar fear when trying to walk. And of course there are us cyclists. The problems we face are pretty much exactly the same.
After an hour or so of sharing experiences the talk moved onto possible solutions. Suggestions ranged from blocking off Scotland Lane to create a greenway, making Scotland Lane and Bayton Lane into a one-way system, reducing speed limits, enforcing speed limits, reporting incidents...the list went on.
One common theme was Arrow Taxis who have the contract to service the airport. Whilst there are plenty of problems with private cars, and HGVs - particularly since new signs now discourage these from using Bayton Lane - the primary source of ire was the taxis. Quite simply they seem they use Scotland Lane as a speedway - time is money after all. Several people suggested that one of the conditions of the airport expansion in the late 1970s was that taxis would *not* use Scotland Lane. Mr Hunt said he would follow up on this specifically.
Speeding seemed to be the nub of the problem. The road carries the national speed limit of 60mph, but really, this is not the problem. It would be hard to drive at 60mph through Scotland Lane's tight curves, but 50mph, or even 40mph might still be too fast - and *definitely* too fast to pass a vulnerable road user. Experience tells us that drivers do not adhere to speed limits unless they are enforced, and we also know that enforcement is scarce in Leeds.
What can we do as cyclists? Well for starters if you cycle on Scotland Lane, or just think something should be done, why not join Carrie's Scotland Lane Awareness and Support Facebook group? If you experience a problem on Scotland Lane then report it. The Police can be contacted on 101 and should be interested in acts of dangerous driving, and definitely in actual collisions. Taxis can be reported to Leeds City Council at email@example.com. This is well worth doing - they do act and can discipline drivers or even remove their licence. In fact if Arrow Taxis realy are as bad as they sound the council might even consider revoking their contract.
Carrie has the bit between her teeth now (sorry, couldn't resist!) and is going to provide feedback from Highways on possible solutions, act as a central conduit for incident logging, and also looking at getting a bulk load of head cameras.
The meeting demonstrated the power of people acting together. There was a real sense of anger being channelled into action, championed by a passionate local activist and supportive councillor. It can only be hoped that our city council will see that something must be done, and soon. We should not have to wait for someone to be killed before we act.