Plans to allow taxis to use bus lanes in Leeds have sparked safety concerns among cyclists and councillors.
The city has over 30 sections of bus lane covering about 20km, restricted to buses, cyclists and emergency vehicles.
Following a review of their operation, the council is proposing to spend £20,000 on new traffic orders that would permit the city’s black and white taxis – but not private hire vehicles – to use the lanes.
But councillors and cyclists want a review of the decision.
In a letter to the council, Leeds Cycling Action Group member Elizabeth Reather, said: “Leeds falls behind other major UK cities for levels of cycling.
“Fear of vehicles is a key deterrent preventing cycling and allowing more vehicles into bus-cycle lanes will only make this worse, particularly for those new or returning to cycling.”
She said the council had a duty to encourage cycling to improve the health of people.
Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) argued that the concerns raised by Leeds Cycling Action Group had not been properly addressed.
He said: “It is not clear why this decision is desirable for the council. The only beneficiaries appear to be hackney carriage drivers, while there are disadvantages to bus users, cyclists and private hire drivers.”
Coun John Illingworth (Lab, Kirkstall) said the council had a duty to promote public health and added: “There will be two separate effects on public health – the proposal may directly increase the number of road accidents and it is likely to discourage cycling.”
Metro, West Yorkshire public transport authority, has argued that extending the use of bus lanes to other vehicles could cause delays to bus services.
There are currently 537 taxis in Leeds and a council report outlining the bus lane plan says they are an important part of a sustainable public transport system.
It points out other major cities already allow taxis to use bus lanes.
The council’s economy scrutiny committee will discuss the issue on Thursday. (July 12)