Highway Code changes prioritise pedestrians and cyclists

Photo by Jeremy Kwok on Unsplash

A new version of The Highway Code will be published in the autumn, with updates including:

  • Road users who can do the greatest harm will have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others.
  • Strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  • Guidance on safe passing distances and speeds and ensuring that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

More details can be found here.

Climate change – Local Plan consultation

Kirkstall Road, Boxing Day 2015. Photo courtesy of LCC.

Leeds City Council is updating its Local Plan so as to be better able to deal with climate change. They’re focusing on 5 different topics to help them achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The topics are carbon reduction, flood risk, green infrastructure, placemaking and sustainable infrastructure.

According to Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s Executive member for Infrastructure and Climate:

“The Local Plan plays a key role in setting out our city’s planning policies for the long-term future, and we believe that the climate emergency should be at the forefront of our thinking. That’s why we are updating those parts of the Plan as a priority.”

You can find out more about each topic and have your say by completing an online survey. The consultation closes on the 13th September 2021.

E-cargo bikes come to Leeds

Photo courtesy of Leeds City Council.

E-cargo bikes are electric powered cycles with a large storage area, usually placed at the front of the bike, which it’s claimed makes them easy to manoeuvre. The electric motor provides pedal assistance allowing you to travel further with less effort. They make it easier to get through congested areas and cover up to 50 miles on a single charge. They are fully tax deductible for businesses, have no parking costs, minimal running costs and do not require a licence or road tax. Their maximum speed is 15.5mph and they have a range of up to 75km. Organisations based in Leeds can borrow one free for up to 3 months. The council isn’t saying publicly what the cost will be once the 3 months are up. For more information, please email: ecargobiketrials@leeds.gov.uk

Global Road Safety Week

Image courtesy of the World Health Organisation.

From today, the 17th May, until the 23rd May, is the sixth United Nations Global Road Safety Week when we are urged to lobby our elected representatives into pressing for a 20mph speed limit. We are told:

“Low speed streets save lives and are the heart of any community. 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits where people and traffic mix make for streets that are healthy, green and liveable, in other words, streets for life.

We’re calling on policymakers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to 30 km/h (20 mph) where people walk, live and play.

Join the #Love30 campaign to call for 30 km/h speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.”

You can sign the open letter here.

Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy

Artist’s impression courtesy of Connecting Leeds.

The Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy web page contains links to the various parts of the proposed Strategy. These allow you to make comments. The introduction to the Strategy states that it has “Six Big Moves.” These are:

  • Thinking about transport differently
  • Transforming the city centre
  • Opportunities for mass transport
  • Enhancing public transport
  • De-carbonising transport
  • Creating healthier streets, spaces and communities.

You can read more about the proposed mass transit system in this Yorkshire Evening Post article. The council intends that work on the mass transit system should take place between 2030 and 2035.

Sunday the 11th April will be the last opportunity to “have your say” on the Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy.

Planning approval frozen

LCC’s permission for a new terminal has been frozen.

This evening’s 6pm news on Radio 4 reported as follows:

A bid to expand Leeds Bradford Airport has been put on hold by the government. The plan, which has been approved by Leeds City Council, was referred to the Communities Secretary for a final decision. There’s been huge opposition from environment campaigners. This afternoon, Robert Jenrick said he needed more time to decide if another terminal was justified. The decision has implications for other airports, as our environment analyst Roger Harrabin explains: “Leeds council aspires to be one of the greenest in the UK. But when faced with a planning application to build a new airport terminal, it concluded that carbon emissions from aviation are the government’s concern, not the council’s. So it approved the scheme. Environmental protesters urged the government to overturn the decision. And today, an email has informed protestors that the application has now been frozen, until the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has had time to consider it further. No final date was given. No reasoning was given either. But it’s probable that the decision will wait until after the government publishes its decarbonisation strategy for all transport, which is due in coming months. Seven other airports want to expand. And ministers have been told by their advisory Climate Change Committee that there should be no overall increase in flying. By in effect kicking the Leeds decision into the long grass, Mr Jenrick has spared himself the sort of bruising he received recently when he decided not to block an application for a coal mine in Cumbria. After an international outcry, he was forced into a u-turn.”

Highway Code consultation

Image courtesy of Living Streets.

The government is consulting on proposals to change the Highway Code to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. The main alterations being proposed are:

  1. Introduction of a hierarchy of road users.
  2. Clarification of existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements.
  3. Making it clear that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.
  4. Establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when cars are overtaking cyclists and horse riders.

Further details and how to make a consultation response are given on this web page.

The consultation closes on the 27th October 2020.

Living Streets is making its own consultation response. You can read about how you can contribute to this response on this web page.

Driverless cars (autonomous vehicles)

Image courtesy of Automobile Italia

From page 91 onwards of volume 24.1 of the World Transport Policy and Practice (March 2018), Professor John Whitelegg reviews Christian Wolmar’s book, “Driverless Cars: On a road to no-where.” Whitelegg is the visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute. Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster specialising in transport.

In his book, Wolmar claims that our streets, roads and cities would have to be re-organised to make them friendly for driverless cars and to stop pedestrians and cyclists getting in their way. He quotes former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn who in 2017 said, “One of the biggest problems (for driverless cars) is people with bicycles. The car is confused by [cyclists] because from time to time they behave like pedestrians and from time to time they behave like cars.” Wolmar also claims that whereas the case for driverless cars is strengthened by the untested, evidence-free assumption that they would produce safer roads, they still take up space and move at speeds that kill children.

In his review of Wolmar’s book, Whitelegg concludes: “It is very clear indeed that the new technology on offer is a very simple extension of a very old technology and a deepening of a very old ideology. It is all about making us all even more car dependent, transforming cities so that they give top priority to cars and eliminate any obstacles to that prioritisation which will include making absolutely sure that pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to get in the way. It is a rejection of several decades of intelligent and ethical thinking that has been going on to make our cities and regions safe, secure, clean, green, healthy, child-friendly places. It is a rejection of Copenhagen’s success in getting 50% of all trips every day for work and education accomplished by bike, a rejection of Freiburg’s achievements on modal split (<30% of all trips every day by car), a rejection of Oslo’s car free strategy, a rejection of wide-area congestion charging."

Covid-19 leads to increased home working

During a speech given today by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries stated that 41% of the workforce are now working from home, compared with 12% a year ago. Dr Harries showed a slide to support this statement (see above). And in a recently published survey commissioned by O2, respondents predicted that the increased level of home working is likely to become permanent. Leeds City Council and Metro need to consider the impact of home working on the A660’s traffic levels and on their plans to alter the A660 to deal with a traffic problem which may no longer exist.

Large parts of central London to become car-free

Shaftesbury Avenue in London. Image courtesy of Kaustav Bhattacharya

Today’s Guardian reports on London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement that large parts of central London are to be permanently closed to cars. The measure is designed to facilitate social distancing by walkers and cyclists. All the main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn will become accessible solely by buses, pedestrians and cyclists. Work on the road closures will begin immediately and should be complete within six weeks.

Many other cities around the world have already announced plans to improve walking and cycling in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, but none of these plans are as ambitious as London’s. The measures announced by the mayor have had an enthusiastic response from environmental groups. Doug Parr from Greenpeace commented, “Not only will transforming our streets in a way that prioritises pedestrians and cyclists, and makes it safer for people to move about as lockdown restrictions are eased, but by permanently restricting car use we can keep toxic pollution from filling our air once again.”