New Generation Transport is the trolleybus scheme proposed for Leeds: read the introduction here.
Leeds Cycling Campaign were involved in a series of meetings several months ago, with Sean Hewitt and Andy Norman from the NGT team, along with Tim Parry and Mark Robinson from the council (sustainable transport remit), to discuss the plans. Now the scheme is approaching the point where a public enquiry will be held, so all the objections relating to cycling need to be submitted to the Council by the 31st October and we're holding more meetings with the team to look at the revised plans in detail.
It’s vital that we make the case for any changes to benefit cycling, and we must do this now. The next step is for the scheme to be considered by the public enquiry and that process will decide whether the trolleybus is allowed to go ahead. The inquiry can also recommend changes, so it’s worth mentioning any specific major problems.
We’re highlighting some areas where big changes are proposed for cyclist so that we can take feedback to the NGT team, both now in our informal meetings and as objections to the public enquiry. Please use our facebook group to comment and discuss. You can view the detailed plans on the NGT website http://www.ngtmetro.com/A-06_Combined_Plans_Pack_2/ but beware they are large files!
Lawnswood roundabout (junction of the A660 with the A6120 outer ring road) has a track straight through the middle of it for NGT (the green stripy bit on the diagram below), and the general traffic lanes will be signalised, with Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs - shown here in orange) provided for cyclists. Those not wanting to mix it with the traffic can use a series of toucan crossings (shown here as hatched areas) around the outside of the roundabout. We’ve already asked the designers to line up the crossings as much as possible so you don’t have to do a 90 degree turn every couple of metres. This is a classic example of ‘dual networks’: we can’t provide a good cycling option that suits everyone, so instead you get two slightly inferior options. But it’s almost certainly better than the current situation.
It's worth noting that the cycle lanes north (left) of the roundabout will be mandatory (solid line) - that is, mandatory for vehicles to keep out of them, not for bikes to use them. The cycle lanes on north and southbound approaches now extend all the way to the stop lines. The reason bikes can't shoot straight through the centre like NGT is that the NGT lanes are too narrow to share here (dictated by the size of the roundabout). Plus, the roundabout traffic will only be stopped when the NGT approaches.
There are a couple of areas in the outer reaches of the scheme, near Holt Park Library and the new Park and Ride site, where the road is a single wide lane shared by traffic, NGT and cycles. Traffic calming measures are proposed: we discussed speed tables and cushions (speed bumps). Tim felt that speed cushions are better for cycling; several of us prefer tables but the NGT may derail its overhead lines if it goes over a speed table. Lizzie suggested “sharrows” which are used a lot in the USA:
and show motorists and cyclists that it’s ok for a bike to be in the middle of the lane, especially at a pinch point. We could think of several places in Leeds where these might help! What do you think? The cushions are very faintly in blue on the side road at the bottom of this diagram, between the green bits of pavement:
At the Arndale Centre in Headingley, the NGT route will turn to the East and bypass the busy stretch of road through Headingley centre (the bit where, now, the cycle lane disappears). Cyclists will have a separate two-way cycle route alongside the pedestrian footway and the NGT lanes, and the cycle / pedestrian path would be separated from the NGT by a kerbed verge which would contain a knee rail, planting, and poles to support overhead lines.
But which way round should the walking and cycling areas go? The current plans (below) propose cyclists (orange on the left) at the far side, with pedestrian footway (brown) between the cyclists and the NGT, and cyclists continue past the NGT-stop on their separate lane. Blind and partially sighted campaigners prefer to have the pedestrian footway at the edge, so they have a hard edge to follow to keep away from the road. But this would mean putting cyclists next to NGT, where they’d be in the way at the NGT stop. One suggestion is to turn the NGT-stop area into a large piece of shared use, where cyclists would mix with, and importantly give way to pedestrians at the NGT stop. Would this compromise the arndale bypass as an attractive cycling route?
No Right Turn southbound at Hyde Park Corner
To help the traffic flow, all traffic travelling South along Otley Road (to the right, on this diagram) will be banned from making a right turn at Hyde Park corner, onto Hyde Park Road. Potentially this affects people cycling from Headingley to Leeds University, although cyclists can make a right turn further down into Clarendon Road, assisted by an ASL.
At Hyde Park Corner, the designers have proposed a Danish-style two stage right turn (see the Superhighway blog for an explanation) where cycles would dip left into the mouth of Woodhouse Street, and then be in the right place to go “straight on” into Hyde Park Road. This isn't shown on the diagram below but might need the pedestrian crossing (hatched area) to move to create a cycle waiting area. Is this an acceptable compromise? Will cyclists abide by the new rule and do what the designers intend? The phasing of the lights means it’s unlikely a separate right turn phase for cycles could be provided here.
Safe right turns at Blenheim Walk / Woodhouse Lane
As the route approaches Leeds University, the road branches into Blenheim Walk (leading down to the inner ring road, city centre and the Woodhouse Lane car park), and Woodhouse Lane past the Parkinson Building and the University entrance. Access to Woodhouse Lane will be restricted to University access, public transport and cycles only, so it will probably be the preferred route for cycling into the city centre, but there will still be a fair amount of traffic at this junction. Currently the plans show, passing the first set of traffic lights, a short stretch of cycle lane (orange) on the left to help those heading for Blenheim Walk, and then a cycle lane appears at the mouth of Woodhouse Lane on the right. Cyclists heading for Woodhouse Lane will have to negotiate into the right hand lane to pick up this cycle lane. Alternatively more timid cyclists can use the toucan crossings, but this would involve two separate crossings and cyclists might need to dismount if the area was busy with pedestrians.
The question here is, what is the appropriate place to start the cycle lane for those bearing right? If you approach while the lights are on red, you’ll probably already be in the right hand lane at the ASL – but what if you approach when the lights are green? Would an earlier start to the cycle lane help by reminding drivers you might be trying to cross, or would it lead you into a false sense of security that you can just “hop” from the left to the right cycle lane across the traffic?
More to follow as the meetings progress! Please use our facebook group to comment and discuss.