So in the previous instalment we headed west, from the Ring Road towards the city centre.
This time we’ll cross the road, turn around and head back eastwards to our starting point, but on the other side of the road.
The Superhighway begins here as a Superfootway, i.e. it used to be illegal to cycle here but the council have put up a sign so now it’s perfectly safe and OK.
The shared footway soon splits into a spearate cycleway and footway, and we then arrive at our first bus stop bypass:
So if you’re on foot, you’re expected to look over your shoulder and cross the cycleway twice simply to walk straight on.
I assume the bin isn’t fixed, but the lamp-post and overhanging shrubbery – plus the sharp angles – make the cycleway feel uncomfortably narrow. There’s also little differentiation between the two, I imagine people getting off the bus will have no idea what all this means.
After the bus stop above, people walking are meant to leave the road (there’s a footpath on the left) and the old footway along York Road becomes a cycleway, though of course people will continue to walk here.
The next bus stop is a real doozy…
I mean, come on, seriously? The photo above shows Leeds Cycle Superhighway in all its crapness. Imagine when there’s a few people waiting for a bus, perhaps someone with a pram or pushchair, or children playing around.
Utterly unacceptably poor. There’s no defence for this.
Here’s another bus stop further along, with added blind corner for extra thrills:
So people going to the bus stop will be coming from just behind that concrete wall, directly opposite the tactile paving you can see. A recipe for collisions (or it would be if more than a handful of people actually cycled in Leeds).
Later on, after more shared footway, we reach a junction which serves only a pet shop (and fire engine access):
The kerbing here is a mess, it doesn’t scream “give way to cycles” to me. I certainly wouldn’t trust cars coming off the main road to stop here, as the kerb line guides them smoothly around the corner.
I’m nothing if not fair, so here’s a photo of a bit that isn’t too bad:
It’s (fairly) clear, it’s free from obstructions, it’s a decent width, the drain covers are wheel-friendly. If it was all this good, I wouldn’t complain. But then, the straight bits should be simple to do!
Note how the right-hand side undulates, rising and falling where the drains are. Now I’m no drainage engineer, but shouldn’t this have been achieved with camber? I can’t say I’ve noticed cycleways elsewhere doing this, but perhaps there is a good reason for it (and this isn’t the case elsewhere). As least they’ve thought about drainage, a concept which seems to have escaped engineers elsewhere!
Another bus stop bypass now, which is ridiculously narrow given the width of the road here (almost 40 metres wide!):
This is followed by a whole bunch of driveways to private business properties, each of which has been designed like to:
Does it look to you like the cycleway (or the footway) has priority over motor vehicles here?
Note also that, due to the smooth ride which King Motorist must receive, the cycleway undulates at each driveway (look at the kerb and you’ll see it). That’s not how to do it.
Nor is this:
Again, a cycleway junction this close to a 40mph road will never be safe. What’s odd is that elsewhere along the route, the space occupied by the old painted cycle lane has been taken, whereas here the entire new cycleway is within the old footway. Combine the old painted cycle lane with the space available on the left, and this junction could have easily been designed to be much safer and comfortable.
Instead yet again the protecting island ends too far back, the kerb line cuts across the cycleway and guides drivers smoothly around the corner at speed. No amount of paint will fix this. It needs redoing from scratch.
A little further on, the cycleway and footway are once more squeezed together at a bus stop, so that motor vehicles may pass unhindered:
And the driveway – for an electricity substation, so hardly a busy driveway – has visual priority over people walking and cycling.
Here’s a view from a footbridge, showing the narrow medieval route ahead:
For a look back towards where we’ve just come from, click here.
Moving on, we’ll see how the old painted cycle lane is being taken away to provide more space for a cycleway:
I really don’t like the look of that junction though, and the plans show a mere painted cycle lane here (so not much different from what we see today).
The residents of this part of the road park their vehicles all over the footway, but formal parking spaces are being provided as part of the scheme, so I hope the cycleway and footway are kept clear of parked vehicles.
Further on – past more poor junctions and squeezed-in bus stops – we arrive at… shared-use footway and toucan crossings!
Yes, this is how the Leeds Cycle Superhighway is treated at busy junctions. Legalised footway cycling and toucan bloody crossings. The very crap which has failed to do anything for cycling in the UK, but this time it’s Super.
Nothing says Cycle Superhighway quite like having to mix in a narrow space with people on foot, and wait at THREE separate signals just to go straight on across one side-road (it’s the access road to Asda, if you’re familiar with the area).
Further up the hill at the next junction, the same treatment has been used:
Once more, I ask: is there really enough space here? What if a family is waiting to cross the road to the right? This clearly is a bodge job, and not even nearly the best solution.
Moving on, we find that at an access driveway the cycleway disappears altogether:
This is the access to the parking for a fire station (not the emergency fire engine exit). Given all the space available here, this is an awful design.
Next we come to what is probably my favourite section:
The design team were surely on some very strong drugs when this was drawn. It’s all a bizarre attempt to give access to the existing traffic island and toucan crossing on the left, without making any changes to the existing road layout.
From where I’m stood, the cycleway is on the left (coming towards the camera). I’ll let you trace the various paths yourself.
Turning around, we see that we’re back at the section where the cycleway is raised above the footway. This means that you’re now cycling on a long podium right next to fast-moving motor traffic. Don’t wobble!
Would it really have been so difficult to move the whole thing left by a couple of metres? That would have made all the difference. It’s just grass!
Another junction now, does it look like priorities are clear?
That’s a minor side road sweeping across both the footway and cycleway there. People will be cycling towards the camera (in theory, anyway) and will have to watch for cars approaching from three directions.
We’ve almost finished our safari now, just a few more things to see…
Here we have another side road with wide, sweeping junction, which is dangerously designed despite the amount of space available. (This is where the old York Road heads left, and is a popular rat-run.)
Followed by the entrance/exit to a supermarket car park:
And finally, a shrug of the shoulders at a toucan crossing. I’m becoming numbed to this rubbish now.
And that ends our walk along the eastern section of Leeds’ so-called “Cycle Superhighway”. I hope you’ve all enjoyed yourselves, and please – don’t have nightmares.
If anyone would like to see the whole 130-odd photographs I took, get in touch and I’ll make them available somehow.
Coming soon! The Superhighway in the West (of Leeds).