Increasing the number of people cycling, as part of a sustainable transport strategy, is good for the health, economy, and environment of any city. Cycle-friendly planning is good for property values, retail vitality, local businesses, and has wider economic benefits due to reduced health-care costs and absenteeism. It reduces CO2 emissions and improves air quality, has a low impact on the built environment, and alleviates noise pollution. Cycling reduces levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cyclists live, on average, two years longer with fitness levels of people ten years younger.
Leeds City Council claims to recognise this, and to have strategies to encourage active lifestyles, to increase sustainable transport, and to promote walking and cycling. Improvements to a busy road running through the centre of one of Leeds' most vibrant communities should have presented an opportunity to put this into practice. An opportunity to re-design Harrogate Road through Chapel Allerton is a chance to make it more pleasant to walk or cycle to local shops, restaurants and businesses.
Why, then, does it appear that the council have manipulated the consultation process at every stage to justify not making much-need improvements to one of the city’s most cycled routes? At the design stage, at the consultation stage, and now at the report stage, the council have sought to justify a scheme which does little or nothing to improve cycle safety in one of the most dangerous cities for cycling. Is it to appease local businesses, to meet outdated and inappropriate targets, or just because the council doesn’t see Harrogate Road as a place for a people to live, shop, eat, walk, and cycle, but as a way of getting somewhere else? Is Leeds still the Motorway City of the 70s?
Read the analysis at http://leedscyclepeople.wordpress.com/