Readers might recall how Leeds once hailed itself ‘Motorway City of the 70s’, proudly brandishing its pristine dual carriageways, promoting private car driving above all else, as its unique selling point.
Presumably this was at a time when you could drive from one side to the city of the other in 10 minutes as opposed to 10 hours it can take today (OK, we exaggerate a little).
‘Motorway City’ isn’t a moniker likely to draw much enthusiasm today. Leeds people are fed up of traffic; let’s face it the traffic is fed up of traffic! No-one in their right mind attempts to navigate its streets and expect an easy, stress-free ride. And anyway, it’s just not 21st century, is it? An age where an attractive, modern, ‘go-to’ city should have space to breathe;, wide and broad pedestrian areas – dare we say it, places of peace?
So it’s good to see the city council thinking clever about new and innovative ways to improve things.
We may be a city of many ‘quarters’ but they don’t join up. Busy roads intersect, dice and slice the city and even the side roads become blocked as drivers to find a rat run.
We all know that it only takes one failed or malfunctioning traffic signal to reduce the entire road network to a standstill.
City Square was surely never meant to thrum with three lanes of cars and buses; areas like Greek Street and lower Eastgate can and should be transformed. Imagine – Leeds a city of boulevards? Is it possible? Only time will tell. But what’s required is bold, confident thinking, an intelligent transport management system and a realisation that people – and by that we mean pedestrians – must come first.
Only then can we ditch our ‘Motorway City’ moniker. That’s long overdue.