A vision of how Leeds’ Headrow - the startline for the 2014 Tour de France - could be transformed with the help of the Government has been unveiled by Olympic legend Chris Boardman.
The former professional cyclist, who won gold at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, has revealed a £4m scheme that would include introducing a 20mph speed limit and open plan ‘boulevard’ design as well as closing it off to private cars.
Working as a British Cycling policy advisor, Boardman is calling on national Government to commit £10 per head per year from existing transport funds to every local authority in Britain to help kickstart a cycling revolution.
He has described the £4m vision for The Headrow, put forward by British Cycling and Leeds City Council, as a “possible lasting legacy” from Yorkshire’s hosting of the Tour de France Grand Depart if backed by Government.
Boardman, who is attending the Leeds Schools Cycle Challenge at Temple Newsam Park today, said: “Millions of people in Britain say they would like to cycle but they are put off due to safety fears.
“We cannot pretend that this is going to miraculously change. National government need to face up to some hard truths and commit adequate investment.
“It’s important to clarify, we are not asking for more money but for a tiny fraction of the existing provision to be targeted as part of a long term plan to remodel our urban landscapes.”
He added: “This isn’t just about cycling, it’s about creating accessible, pleasant, healthier places to live and work. It isn’t even a cycling project, it’s a logical, people-first, evidence-based vision with no down sides.”
The plan for the The Headrow would include the introduction of a 20mph speed limit; a “boulevard” design with wide open spaces; closing the road to private cars; the widening of footways and low kerbs for easy wheelchair and cycle access; the removal of all guard rails and most street furniture; a cycle-bypass; and remodelled junctions with separate signal phase for cycles.
British Cycling claims the scheme would reduce motor traffic by 40 per cent, encourage more walking and cycling – trebling cycling levels and reducing injuries by a quarter.
Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We are firmly committed to maximising every possible benefit from the city hosting the Tour de France.
“As we outlined in our legacy vision, we want to put cycling at the heart of the future of Leeds, building on our existing relationships with fantastic partners like British Cycling to bring about significant benefits in a range of areas such as health and wellbeing, transport, leisure, the environment and the economy.
“That is our long-term aim to do everything we can to encourage and help as many people as possible to get cycling.”
Stage one of the Tour de France is on Saturday and runs from Leeds to Harrogate via the Yorkshire Dales, while stage two, on Sunday, takes the riders from York to Sheffield.
The Tour then moves south for a stage from Cambridge to London before returning across the Channel.