Road closure planter boxes popping up across Leeds to reduce rat running and boost cycling and walking
Planter boxes in the road around Hyde Park have been put in place to reduce rat running and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
The trial area is the first active travel neighbourhood to take shape in the city, with similar schemes in Beeston, Chapeltown, Holbeck, Lincoln Green and Otley either planned or under consideration.
Leeds City Council asked the public earlier this year for their ideas on how to improve walking and cycling in the city as part of its response to Covid-19.
The boxes - which are designed to show that streets are still open to anyone not on motorised vehicles - can be used to close roads or make them one way.
There are 17 streets earmarked for changes in Hyde Park, with boxes already in place including Thornville Road, Pearson Avenue, Howden Place, Thornville Street, Alexandra Grove and the Norwoods.
Headingley and Hyde Park councillor Al Garthwaite said: "It will reduce rat-running in Hyde Park, which is endemic, and make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists."
Pre-Covid-19, the area was also a hotspot for commuter parking, with drivers clogging up local roads before walking into Leeds.
"That's not acceptable or fair on the residents. Making it more difficult to get in the street will reduce this sort of parking."
The planters will also reduce opportunities for speeding and boost air quality.
Cllr Garthwaite said it was "really not acceptable in this day and age" that school children had to put up with poor air quality on their way to and from school.
She also emphasised that the scheme was a trial and subject to change.
"If residents feel it's not the right thing and we are overwhelmed with protests, we will look again - but like any scheme it will take a while to bed down.
"For some it will disrupt the routes they used to take and that will take a bit of time to get used to."
Feedback on the scheme so far has been "balanced", Cllr Garthwaite added.
Fellow ward councillor Jonathan Pryor posted pictures boxes on Twitter.
He said in a post: "Our new boxes through Hyde Park are starting to be put in! All part of making the area safer and greener!
"Everything still accessible by car but by preventing rat running we can lower air pollution and encourage cycling and walking."
All residents affected have been written to and the emergency services have been consulted as part of the process in terms of access.
At the time the schemes were announced, Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said: “The council’s aspiration is to make cycling and walking for shorter journeys a natural everyday travel choice.
"This starts by giving people the space they need over motorised vehicles to keep safe on our streets, whether on their bike, wheel chair, push chair or on their own two feet.
"Only when people feel safe, will they enjoy the convenience of active travel, which will support their own health and wellbeing."