Leeds cycle lane scheme between Headingley and city centre to go ahead despite criticism

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A scheme to introduce cycle lanes along one of Leeds’ busiest routes will go ahead, despite efforts by local Liberal Democrats to have it binned.

Around £10m of works will be carried out across a 1.7 mile stretch of the A660, between Headingley and the city centre. The scheme will be carried out by the city council but the funding has come from a government Active Travel Fund, which dictated the details of the scheme.

But Lib Dem group leader Stewart Golton claimed it was not value for money and could end up accidentally causing rat running on surrounding roads. The Labour administration insisted it would deliver lasting improvements to the transport network, public safety and air quality.

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Coun Golton called the scheme in for scrutiny at a meeting on Wednesday, which forced a vote on whether or not senior leaders should reconsider pressing ahead with it. Councillors on the authority’s infrastructure scrutiny board effectively backed the scheme, however, voting eight to one in favour of it going ahead.

The A606 at Hyde Park Corner (Photo by Bruce Rollinson/National World)The A606 at Hyde Park Corner (Photo by Bruce Rollinson/National World)
The A606 at Hyde Park Corner (Photo by Bruce Rollinson/National World)

Councillor Golton told the meeting: “Nobody wants to see the A660 left the way it is. Everyone wants to encourage people to use their bikes and everyone wants to see pedestrians using their streets. I’m not saying no action should be taken to achieve any of that.

“But there can be unintended consequences of well-intended schemes. To reduce casualties on a route you may unintentionally deliver a more dangerous environment in others.”

Coun Golton expressed scepticism over the scheme’s ambitions to quadruple the number of cycling journeys on the A660.

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“Unless you are converting car users to bike users on those journeys, the overall safety benefits are not achieved,” he said.

The administration, however, said that the money could not be allocated to any other scheme or spent elsewhere, because of the strings attached to the funding.

Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure, said: “This is a well-used corridor, it’s very busy and it’s narrow.

“This about keeping people safe, not just from collisions, but from air quality problems as well. There are young children going to school along this route.

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“When more people walk and cycle their health improves. I won’t apologise for this administration being ambitious and wanting the best. We’d love to do this all over the city if we had the money.”

The Friends of Woodhouse Moor had been among the scheme’s most vocal critics when the plans came to light earlier this year, with the loss of grass verges among their concerns. But Wednesday’s meeting was told 63 per cent of people had backed it during a public consultation.