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Leeds-Bradford cycle superhighway row continues as campaigners say designs changed without their knowledge

CityConnect says designs may have been misinterpreted and has begun a review of the plans

A row has erupted over designs for a junction on the Leeds-Bradford cycle superhighway that campaigners are calling a "serious failure". While CTC, Sustrans and the Leeds Cycling Campaign say plans have been downgraded without their knowledge to offer cyclists no protection from traffic turning from a three lane gyratory, CityConnect, the group responsible, say they may have been misinterpreted.

Pictures emerged on social media this week of the segregated cycle track, paid for by a £18.1m cycle city ambition fund from government, which forces cyclists to give way at the Grange Avenue junction of Dick Lane, in Bradford.

Following concerns the design puts cyclists at risk from collision with turning traffic City Connect has acknowledged its plans may have been misinterpreted, and has promised to review the work and set up a meeting for those plans to be discussed.

Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns and Policy Director, said though the superhighway designs are generally good, work done at this junction does not conform to original designs, which he called a "serious failure".

He said: "We would reiterate the comments made by the Leeds Cycling Campaign that they are generally happy with the design and consultation processes. Even though everything has not turned out as the campaigners would have wanted, the CityConnect authorities have generally aimed for a decent level of cycle priority at junctions. This particular junction however appears to be a serious failure and, contrary to CityConnect's claims, does not accord with the published design drawings."

He added this situation provides a clear example of why high national design standards for cycle infrastructure are needed in the UK, and added CTC will be looking to make sure the Prime Minister and his cycling minister, Robert Goodwill, make good on promises to improve those standards.

A post on The Alternative Department for Transport blog says designs were never clear, with drawings offering little detail on how the cycle route would cross the side roads. Later plans appear to have dealt with this detail but priority differs from junction to junction.

CityConnect released a statement on its Facebook page saying: "The design for this junction has not differed from the design consulted on although we acknowledge that the design drawings for this junction may have been misinterpreted. Safety concerns from the safety Audit Team were one of the factors for the design of this junction."

It said although plans have gone through the correct sign-off process, including Sustrans, CTC and Leeds Cycling Campaign as well as "all other interested parties" and public consultation, a review will now be undertaken.

It said: "In light of the considerable interest on social media and sections of the press, the design team have been asked to produce a position statement to be reviewed by the Advisory Group to ensure that the final design is the best possible outcome in this location."

Sustrans said it supported the ambition of a "Dutch style" cycle route between Leeds and Bradford, and though the development of designs was "genuinely open and consultative" the charity can't remember this junction being discussed.

On its Facebook page the group said: "We think this has been a positive experience and one that has demonstrably raised the standard of the designs and taken us closer towards realising that [Dutch-style design] ambition. However in respect of a few key locations, we feel that the final design still feels significantly short."

"I can't recall the specific example of Dick Lane / Grange Ave ever being discussed in advisory group meetings. We certainly spent a lot of time and effort, over the course of a year, arguing for the principles of priority, safety and convenience. None of which this achieves," Sustrans added.

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17 comments

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brokenorange | 3 months ago
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This, surely, goes in opposition to the recently updated (and universally ignored) Highway Code? Oh, wait. Did I just answer my own question?

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Hirsute replied to brokenorange | 3 months ago
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What has an 8 year old article to do with recent HC changes?

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Tony | 9 years ago
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Can we please stop perpetuating the clever bit of marketing spin that calls them "superhighways" They are not. They are very ordinary cycle lanes at or about the absolute minimum width for an ordinary cycle lane in British guidance and half the width that the Dutch cycling guidelines would call for. Worse still our cycling campaigners are falling for the superhighway spin.

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Malaconotus replied to Tony | 9 years ago
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Tony wrote:

Worse still our cycling campaigners are falling for the superhighway spin.

No, we are not. Leeds Cycling Campaign statement is here... http://www.leedscyclingcampaign.co.uk/?q=node/967 No-one here is falling for the spin. High-quality provision is what we were promised and anything less is worse than useless, and there will be no hesitation in embarassing those responsible. See discussion on Leeds Cyling Campaign and City Connect Facebook and see if we are falling for the spin.

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Matt eaton | 9 years ago
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Way too much of this nonsense happening all over.

It seems that for a lot of road planners, improving safety translates to removing any opportunity for collisions to be the fault of drivers. In other words, making sure that motorists have priority at every interaction with cyclists and that cyclists alone are responsible for their own safety.

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kippy | 9 years ago
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It's a shame really. The sections I've seen so far are ok, but nothing special. I understand that the aim is to get people cycling and to make people feel safe, but what they've done in most places is take a chunk of the road (the chunk that I used to cycle in) and make it weave around a bit and stop and start a few times. The problem for me is do I now cycle on the narrower road and feel even less safe or do I cycle slower and more cautiously on the cycle path?

And the towpath is a joke, it was supposed to be 'cycle friendly' but it's just loose gravel that's so deep and loose in places that my mountain bike slides around, I wouldn't dream of riding it on my road bike. And it makes a racket (perhaps this is done on purpose so that walkers can hear cycles approaching?). How hard is it to just tarmac the towpath!?

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harrybav replied to kippy | 9 years ago
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Good point kippy - I had same thought cycling through some small towns in France last year - they have new safe-to-school type cycle infra, bollards etc, bunging up the bit of road I used to cycle on. Sometimes the road being narrowed stops overtaking and so is safer but often not. You're left thinking to get bigger tyres for navigating all the new kerbs etc, which is pretty rubbish really.

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shay cycles replied to kippy | 9 years ago
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With regards to the towpath there are often very good reasons not to use asphalt. The type of surface used is a self binding gravel and as such it settles and stabilises over a period of time. In terms of benefit it is better for drainage, generally better for canal-side flora and fauna and it is better for walkers than a hard surface. For cycling in the winter with ground frost these surfaces are far less hazardous for cycling than asphalt and they form fewer puddles than ice over.

After a while the surface settles well enough to ride a road bike and I've ridden similar surfaces in various parts of Greater Manchester with 23mm tyres on a road bike without any trouble.

With regard to the design of the junction in question I don't know enough about the location to comment - so I won't.

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the little onion | 9 years ago
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There have been loads of complaints to City Connect prior to this incident, particularly over the towpath, but they have been pretty silent on why they have changed plans since the consultation phase, to the detriment of cyclists, and why they effectively have no oversight over what the Canal and Rivers Trust (for the towpath sections) and the local councils (for the highway sections) are doing. The cycle city ambition project was a decent idea, but it is becoming farcical.

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P3t3 | 9 years ago
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Nice that they have tried but looking at the plans its still a bit "dual network" in places. I guess they really didn't have the money to make it really decent.

I'm massively in favour of segregation but I'd probably still ride down the road rather than be a second class citizen negotiating all the side roads.

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mrmo replied to P3t3 | 9 years ago
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P3t3 wrote:

Nice that they have tried but looking at the plans its still a bit "dual network" in places. I guess they really didn't have the money to make it really decent.

I'm massively in favour of segregation but I'd probably still ride down the road rather than be a second class citizen negotiating all the side roads.

If the route is properly segregated and priority is clear I would be happy with the cycle path, however as is???? even if they change the paint on the junctions I would still rather use the main carriageway because priority at junctions is far clearer.

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Malaconotus replied to P3t3 | 9 years ago
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P3t3 wrote:

I guess they really didn't have the money to make it really decent.

They have the money. £30M in total. That's a vast sum for cycle infrastructure, rather more than the Dutch would spend on top-quality provision over a similar distance. This isn't a resource issue but a competency issue.

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Leodis | 9 years ago
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I fail to see how anyone can misinterpreted the below, its pretty clear Cityconnect are full of BS or someone has dropped a bollock.

//i57.tinypic.com/r72kxc.jpg)

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RedfishUK | 9 years ago
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So is this a one off junction or every single side road junction that City Connect have marked as "Side Road - Table" on their consultation maps (which is the majority of side roads)?

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cat1commuter | 9 years ago
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I love how cycling infrastructure allows frustrated highway engineers to give full reign to their creativity, where every junction offers an opportunity for freedom of expression oppressively restricted when designing the mundane motor vehicle network.

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the little onion | 9 years ago
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You know it is bad if Sustrans are withdrawing their endorsement

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clayfit | 9 years ago
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The key point of a Dutch cycle path is that it keeps the priority of the road that it runs alongside, wherever possible. The picture shows the cycle path giving way to side road traffic, making bikes third-class road users on this road. Not Dutch-style at all.

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