'We are victims of rat running and speeding': Leeds Council scraps traffic blocking planters after complaints in Hyde Park

A trial using planters to block “rat run" traffic and improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians in Leeds has been scrapped following complaints.
Coun Neil Walshaw, pictured with one of the traffic-blocking planters in Hyde Park, Leeds.Coun Neil Walshaw, pictured with one of the traffic-blocking planters in Hyde Park, Leeds.
Coun Neil Walshaw, pictured with one of the traffic-blocking planters in Hyde Park, Leeds.

The planters were set up in Hyde Park as part of the Active Travel Neighbourhood (ATN) project by Leeds City Council, which began in November 2020, but are now being removed from Brudenell Road and the Thornvilles.

A spokesperson for the council said they were being scrapped because they were not successful in preventing traffic or improving conditions for walkers and cyclists.

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Coun Neil Walshaw, chairman of the council’s Climate Change Advisory Committee, said: “Some elements of the barriers have worked and some haven’t.

“I would accept that the [Brudenell Road and Thornvilles] ones were too much.

“But the science remains. We are victims of commuter traffic, rat running and speeding.”

The Hyde Park scheme is one of three in Leeds that aims to reduce speeding and air pollution, as well as encouraging people to walk or cycle instead of drive.

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Adam O’Malley, founder of the Green Streets for Hyde Park group, said: “The ATN in Hyde Park was never given a chance, despite the benefits it could have had.

“The council completely failed to engage or consult with residents and then, surprised by the backlash, they watered down the scheme so none of the benefits were realised.”

It comes after planters were allegedly targeted by vandals.

Yacob Ahmed, who started a petition against the planters which currently has over 1,300 signatures, said that the other planters in Hyde Park and Headingley must now also be removed.

Ahmed added: “The council are still intent on peddling this scheme in some form or manner.

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“They’re not listening to residents, transients and businesses owners' pleas to abolish the scheme.”

The council spokesperson said: “We will continue to work with local communities across Hyde Park and the rest of Leeds to ensure that the city's transport vision works for them.”

They added that the council was now working on the next phase of the area’s travel improvements.

Coun Walshaw said: “It’s all about how we learn from any public policy intervention, whether it succeeds or fails or is somewhere in between.

“This is somewhere in between.”

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The council is now exploring other measures to cut speeding in Hyde Park, such as speed bumps and chicanes.

They have also recently entered a bid into government for more segregated cycleways, and are planning to introduce resident parking permits.

Coun Walshaw added: “We've got to drive less, we’ve got to generate less carbon.

“If it can’t be a physical barrier then it’s got to be parking restrictions.”

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The permit will be free, but Coun Walshaw said: “If you’ve not got one you will start racking up £75 fines quite quickly.

“We’ve got to do this because we can’t be a car park for everybody.”

A date for the removal of the planters has yet to be confirmed but the council spokesperson said that they will be removed once resources become available.