Cycle Track Consultation


For the past few years, the council and Metro have been collaborating under the name “Connecting Leeds.” It’s like New Generation Transport, but with cycle lanes instead of trolleybuses. To fund the cycle lanes, they have money that was originally earmarked for the trolleybus scheme, plus money that the government has made available to local authorities to create cycle lanes.

The latest consultation1 is being carried out by a company called “Commonplace.” It proposes cycle lanes along the A660 from the junction of the A660 with Shaw Lane to Leeds University. The consultation runs from the 30th January to the 5th March.

In 2021, Commonplace won two awards in recognition of the huge number of responses it gets to its consultations in Leeds.2 They’ve said that the secret of their success in Leeds is to keep consulting the same database of 30,000 dedicated people.3

The current consultation can be completed by any of the 30,000 people on their database. They don’t have to be living near the A660.

A similar scheme was put forward in 2018, and it was rejected. It was rejected despite the fact that prior to it, Connecting Leeds held numerous meetings with interested groups from across Leeds, including two meetings with Leeds Civic Trust.

Commonplace consulting the same people over and over again, and Connecting Leeds having meetings with selected groups before Commonplace put their consultations together, risks creating consultations with “selection bias.”

Commonplace state that Connecting Leeds want to make “better use” of the space in front of the Arndale Centre. Who would object to something being made better use of? And when someone uses their initiative to drive down a side road, they describe it as “rat running.” But when Connecting Leeds direct drivers down side roads, Commonplace describe it as “re-routing.” But they’re effectively the same thing. As part of the consultation, Commonplace tell us about proposed infrastructure changes to reduce the number of accidents at points along the route. They tell us the number of accidents, but not their cause. So, it’s impossible to know if their solutions are the best ones. No mention is made of all the establishments located along the A660 which sell alcohol and how this contributes to the number of accidents.4 5 And Commonplace don’t mention that Connecting Leeds want to remove almost a metre of grass verge inbound adjacent to Woodhouse Moor in order to create a two metre wide segregated cycle lane. Instead they expect people to be eagle-eyed enough to spot this on the small scale drawings that are included with the consultation.6 In addition, Connecting Leeds want cycle lanes to run behind bus stops. This would effectively turn bus stops into traffic islands. Whilst the advantage of this is that bikes wouldn’t have to wait behind buses at bus stops, it would also make bus stops dangerous places for pedestrians. But Commonplace don’t mention this. And Connecting Leeds want to turn the outbound tarmac pavement across Woodhouse Moor into a cycle lane shared with pedestrians. Even though shared cycle tracks are considered by some to be dangerous, this is not mentioned by Commonplace. These are just a few examples from many of the use by Commonplace of biased language and the selective presentation of facts. This is known as “response bias.”

Commonplace state that it’s good practice when consulting to include a mixture of open and closed questions.7 But responses to their current consultation can be submitted by responding just to closed questions. In addition, they state that consultation forms should not include biased language. But their consultation questionnaire contains several examples of it.

The proposed changes affect two wards, one of which was former councillor Neil Walshaw’s ward of Headingley and Hyde Park. Neil Walshaw resigned from the council on the 13th January to enable him to join the Commonplace board.8 His resignation occurred just two weeks before the current consultation went live.

There are drop-ins about the proposals as follows:

  • Tuesday 21 February 2023, 3-7pm, HEART Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre, Bennett Road, LS6 3HN.
  • Saturday 25 February 2023, 1.30-4.30pm, St Augustine’s Wrangthorn Church, Hyde Park Terrace, LS6 1BJ.
  • Tuesday 28 February 2023, 10am-3:30pm, Room 6, Leeds University Union, Lipton Place, LS2 9JZ.


  1. The latest consultation.
  2. Interview with Mike Saunders, CEO and co-founder of Commonplace.
  3. Interview with Commonplace where they state that they receive large numbers of responses in Leeds through repeatedly consulting the same database of 30,000 people.
  4. Paragraphs 7.35 and 7.36 of Appendix F of Leeds City Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy 2014-2018 (amended). This document no longer exists in this form. The current document doesn’t even mention the A660.
  5. The Road Safety Unit of the council used to publish a list of “Sites for Concern”; about 150 sites across Leeds where the number of accidents and injuries merited further work. Every major junction on the A660 was on it, and most minor junctions. Unusually there was an addendum to the figures noting that most of the accidents involved young people under the influence of alcohol.
  6. Drawing showing the intention to remove almost a metre of grass verge. Bear in mind that the A660 is at its widest here between the city centre and West Park, and that two metre wide cycle lanes are intended for Headingley Hill, without any encroachment on adjacent pavements or property.
  7. Commonplace statement of good practice.
  8. The Commonplace board.

Cycle Track Proposals

Headingley Hill (image courtesy of LCC).

Leeds City Council wants to establish a cycle track from the suburbs to the university. They intend consulting on their proposals for the section from Shaw Lane to the university from the 30th January to the 5th March. You can see their proposals and comment on them here.

Where the A660 crosses Woodhouse Moor, the council proposes:

  • Having cyclists and pedestrians together using the tarmac pavement outbound
  • Removing 80cm of grass verge to create a segregated cycle lane inbound.
  • Having the cycle tracks running behind bus stops. What this means is that there would be motorised vehicles in front of the bus stops on the road, and cycles on the cycle tracks that would run behind the bus stops.

The proposed cycle tracks would be 2 metres wide, which is the minimum width required for a cycle lane. It’s hard to understand why the space required for the proposed cycle tracks across Woodhouse Moor would be at the expense of the existing park, when there would also be a 2 metres wide segregated cycle lane across Headingley Hill, with no loss of pavement or moving of wall to achieve this.

There will be four drop-in sessions as follows:

  • Thursday 16 February 2023, 3-7pm, St Chad’s Parish Centre, Otley Road, LS16 5JT.
  • Tuesday 21 February 2023, 3-7pm, HEART Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre, Bennett Road, LS6 3HN.
  • Saturday 25 February 2023, 1.30-4.30pm, St Augustine’s Wrangthorn Church, Hyde Park Terrace, LS6 1BJ.
  • Tuesday 28 February 2023, 10am-3:30pm, Room 6, Leeds University Union, Lifton Place, LS2 9JZ.

I’ve summarised the council’s proposals below. Any language describing the proposals as “better” is the council’s.

Section 1: A660 Otley Road from Alma Road to Shire Oak Road

Grid A

  • Re-configure and make better use of the space and paving outside the front of Headingley Central
  • Provide a segregated cycle path between the road and a path for people walking and wheeling
  • Replace bus shelter with a flag stop, and use sheltered walkway of Headingley Central as a place to wait for buses
  • Real-time information screens for bus times, placed under sheltered walkway
  • Narrow the carriageway and reduce speed limit from 30mph to 20mph between Shaw Lane/St Anne’s Road junction and St Michael’s Road

Grid B

  • North Lane junction to remain signalised but with the addition of a diagonal-crossing
  • Responsive crossing times for people that need longer to cross
  • Priority green signal release at junction for people cycling
  • Metal guard rails and concrete bollards removed

Section 2: A660 Otley Road/Headingley Lane, St Michael’s Road junction

Grid C

  • Close St Michael’s Road/A660 junction to motorised traffic preventing rat-running
  • Create a space surrounding the War Memorial for benches, planting and possibly a rain garden
  • Provide cycle parking
  • Move existing bus stop from outside St. Michael and All Angels’ Church to the new pedestrianised area on St. Michael’s Road
  • Upgraded, bus-responsive traffic signals
  • Eight standard parking bays replaced with four blue badge parking bays and public space.

Section 3: A660 Headingley Lane from Spring Road to Grosvenor Road

  • New bus stop with real-time information screens placed outside The Golden Beam (J D Wetherspoon). This will replace infrequently used bus stops on A660 Headingley Lane at North Grange Road, North Hill Road and Richmond Avenue junctions
  • Remove pedestrian guard rails, islands and hatchings from centre of the A660 Headingley Lane to create more space for improvements, including wider footpaths

Section 4: A660 Headingley Lane/Woodhouse Lane, Victoria Road junction

Grid D

  • Close Regent Park Avenue junction to motorised traffic
  • All arms of Victoria Road and A660 Headingley Lane junction signalised with crossings for people walking, wheeling, and cycling
  • Create a dedicated lane for motorised vehicles turning left from A660 into Victoria Road
  • People cycling outbound, across the arm of Victoria Road junction, to be given priority, whilst left-turning vehicles are held by signals to prevent collisions
  • Create a public space and remove advertising billboards to create a more pleasant environment
  • Ban the right turn into Victoria Road
  • Remove overgrown shrubs

Section 5: A660 Woodhouse Lane, Hyde Park Road junction (Hyde Park Corner) to Cliff Road

Grid E

  • Build-out existing footway on corner of Woodhouse Street/A660, directly outside The Hyde Park pub, so it’s clearer to motorists this is an existing banned left turn
  • Ban straight-ahead movement from Hyde Park Road to Woodhouse Street
  • Cliff Road made one-way, with direction of travel from Woodhouse Street to Woodhouse Lane
  • Ban right turn out of Cliff Road onto A660 Woodhouse Lane
  • New signalised crossing between the bus shelter and Cliff Road
  • Traffic signals placed on outbound bus lane of A660 Woodhouse Lane, giving buses priority
  • Re-surface existing path (Avenue Walk) so people cycling can either use the bus lane or this path.
  • Eleven trees removed to make space for improvements*

*A qualified arborist has carried out a complete arboricultural tree survey of the 73 trees along this section of the A660. The council state that where possible they have sought to avoid impacting any trees however, these plans would impact 11 semi-mature trees. Varieties impacted include Oak, Lime and Sycamore – two are rated good quality with the remaining nine rated low quality.

All these trees were found to have a mixture of issues, including squirrel damage, soil compaction, root disturbance, close proximity to a bus shelter, girdling roots, or in a general poor condition.

The council state that in order to improve the design of our streets and make them wider and safer, they need to put people first. To achieve this along the A660, and particularly at this section of road where there is a high footfall of school students, they state that they need to remove these trees. Relocating the trees would not be possible due to the issues listed above. However, the council’s policy is to replace every tree removed with a 3:1 semi-mature ratio.

Section 6: A660 Woodhouse Lane, Rampart Road to Clarendon Road

Grid F

  • New signalised crossing on A660 Woodhouse Lane between Woodhouse Moor and Rampart Road
  • Responsive crossing times for people that need longer to cross
  • Ban right turn out of Rampart Road
  • Resurface existing path (Avenue Walk). People cycling can either use the bus lane or this path

Grid G

  • New signalised crossing on A660 Woodhouse Lane east of Clarendon Road junction
  • Ban left turn out of Clarendon Road
  • New signalised crossing for people cycling between Raglan Road and Clarendon Road
  • Existing bus stop relocated to other side of the junction (west)
  • Improved landscaping to replace concrete planters
  • Responsive crossing times for people that need longer to cross

Section 7: A660 Woodhouse Lane from St Mark’s Street to St Mark’s Road

Grid H

  • Make St Mark’s Street one-way from A660 Woodhouse Lane
  • New loading bay on St Mark’s Street for local businesses
  • Widen footpaths

Grid I

  • Relocate bus stop closer towards traffic signals, by Handsome Brewhouse, where footpath is wider
  • People cycling inbound, across the arm of St Mark’s Road junction, given priority, whilst left-turning vehicles are held by signals to prevent collisions
  • Segregated cycle paths help people cycling turn right at the junction, towards the Parkinson Building
  • Increase the size of pedestrian waiting islands
  • All movements retained but existing three lanes become two lanes:
    • left turn only
    • straight ahead with right turn

Section 8: Continuous crossings at side roads

  • Add continuous crossings to the following side roads along the A660:
    • Alma Road
    • Dennistead Crescent
    • Chapel Street
    • Shire Oak Street
    • Bennett Road
    • Shire Oak Road
    • Bainbrigge Road
    • Spring Road
    • Springbank Crescent
    • Richmond Avenue
    • Oakfield
    • Richmond Road
    • The Poplars
    • Orville Gardens
    • Buckingham Road
    • North Grange Road
    • North Hill Road
    • Ashwood Villas
    • Cumberland Road
    • Grosvenor Road
    • St Mark’s Street
    • St. Mark’s Avenue

Section 9: Proposed segregated cycle path

  • Two-metre segregated cycle path inbound and outbound along most of the route

Bendybuses form part of WYCA’s proposed mass transit system

Proposed mass transit system (image courtesy of WYCA)

A Yorkshire Evening Post article was published today revealing more details of the proposed mass transit system. The article is based on a new report by West Yorkshire Combined Authority which states that the East Leeds, Bradford to Leeds and South Leeds to Dewsbury routes will be among the first to be built. Page 16 of the report states that the system will comprise a mixture of bendybuses and trams. It states that the bendybuses will carry 120 people and have seats for between 30 to 50 of these people. Page 16 also states that these technologies are “new” to West Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Evening Post article and (so far as I can see), no other media article mentions that bendybuses form part of the plan. Has WYCA forgotten one of the reasons the trolleybus inspector gave for rejecting the trolleybus? On page 634 of his report, he stated, “. . . it is likely that a significant number of passengers would have to stand on the trolley vehicles, particularly during the peak times, and this would act as a deterrent to their use and a potential safety risk on the articulated vehicles.” The proposed new system is supported by West Yorkshire’s mayor, Tracy Brabin, as well as the leaders of the five councils which make up West Yorkshire, including our own Councillor James Lewis.

Leeds Safer Roads Vision Zero 2040

Image courtesy of kecko.

The draft Leeds Safer Roads Vision Zero 2040 strategy is the council’s plan to improve road safety and eliminate road deaths and serious injuries in Leeds by 2040. They want to know what you think about Vision Zero and its objectives. To this end, they’re holding an online consultation exercise, a drop-in event and on online webinar. The drop-in event and webinar will take place as follows:

Drop-in event: Tuesday 22 March, 12pm – 5:30pm at Leeds Kirkgate Market, Vicar Lane LS2 7HY
Online webinar: Friday 25 March, 12pm – 1pm

The consultation exercise ends on Sunday 24th April.

Pavement Parking

A vehicle parked on the pavement.

From the 31st May onwards, local authorities will be able to issue £70 fixed penalty notices to anyone (a) parking on the pavement, (b) opening their car door in the path of an oncoming cyclist, (c) stopping in yellow box junctions, and (d) driving in a cycle lane.

You can read more about the forthcoming changes in this article by the online magazine Heart.

Leeds to get £200m tram funding

A tram in Manchester.

The government announced today that it is to scrap the leg of HS2 between Birmingham and Leeds. The government stated that what is to replace HS2 will be faster and deliverable ten years sooner than HS2. If replacing HS2 has such huge benefits, one can only guess as to why the leg of HS2 between Birmingham and Manchester hasn’t been scrapped too.

As a consolation to Leeds, the prime minister announced that the city will be given £200 million to start planning its own tram system – money which is presumably intended for consultants. You can read more on this here.

Leeds to get its own tram network

An artist’s impression of how Supertram might have looked.

According to an article published in today’s Mail on Sunday, ministers are expected to scrap the eastern leg of HS2, with the high-speed track no longer being laid from Birmingham to Leeds. As a consolation, Leeds is to get its own tram network.

The plans which are expected to appear in the government’s soon to be published integrated rail plan, have drawn criticism that the Prime Minister is abandoning a key part of his ‘levelling up’ agenda.

As well as the eastern leg change, there has been speculation that the Government may downgrade plans for a high-speed east-west line across the Pennines amid concerns over mounting costs.

£830m to improve transport infrastructure

Image courtesy of Metro.

In his October 2021 budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that West Yorkshire is to receive £830m to improve transport infrastructure.

West Yorkshire’s mayor, Tracy Brabin welcomed the announcement and said there was now the possibility that preparatory work could begin on a mass transit system for Leeds.

You can read more of what the mayor said in this Yorkshire Evening Post article.

And you can read the mayor’s reaction to the budget here.

The Today programme on airport expansion

Image courtesy of the BBC.

The planned Leeds Bradford Airport extension was discussed on this morning’s Today programme. Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for Infrastructure and Climate took part:

Nick Robinson: More than a third of councils in England are advocating policies that could increase carbon emissions, whilst at the same time having declared what they call a “climate emergency.” That’s the finding of BBC research, done with the assistance as ever, of our energy and environment analyst Roger Harrabin. Tell us more Roger.

Roger Harrabin: Well, it was a really good result to the survey. 90% as you say, have declared a climate emergency. And others told us that actually, they were taking climate change really seriously as well. But they weren’t quite comfortable necessarily with the “emergency” word. It’s taken a long time. Obviously, councillors normally pre-occupied with what they’re elected for: local services, housing, transport and waste. But now we’re seeing a different sort of priorities coming in. There’s widespread priority for walking and cycling. Newcastle for instance says it wants to become a 15 minute city where you can do everything within 15 minutes on foot or by bike that you would want to do. Coventry has an ultra light rail system they’re looking at. Kensington and Chelsea, quite interesting here. They’re thinking of charges per gram of CO2 for parking, and widespread home insulation. But as you say, one in three of those councils who’s declared an emergency, is still backing projects that are pushing in the opposite direction. Road building or airports for instance. Leeds aims to be one of the top green cities in the UK. It’s record is really impressive in many ways, but it’s still backing airport expansion. And their climate leader, Helen Hayden, explains their dilemma:

Councillor Helen Hayden: It’s extremely difficult to get that balance right, and there are always going to be competing factors. If we don’t expand, the fear is that somebody else will and that economic growth will go elsewhere.

Nick Robinson: Roger, isn’t that where we are just now? Which is almost all politicians of all colours declare that they think there is a crisis. But when it comes to the question of, “Who pays for us to rip out our gas boiler, to drive an electric car, or indeed to stop flying?” – no one’s quite clear what the answers are.

Roger Harrabin: That’s exactly right Nick, and not just in the UK. I mean, wherever you look round the world, the urgency of the situation is now upon us. You know, the IPCC report earlier on in the week. I mean a lot of people found frankly frightening. But how you translate that into policy, to nudge business as usual, that’s a different matter. If you ask climate experts, they’ll say with an issue like Leeds and the airport for instance. We have now to install a policy where at national or local or international level, there should be no spending on policies that increase emissions. They see that as very simple. They’re looking for the UK government and local councils to impose a policy like that. And you mentioned money. The National Audit Office back the local councils actually, when they say they’re not getting enough money. And they’re urging the government to prioritise spending through local governments because they say it’s the most efficient way of doing it.

Nick Robinson: Roger Harrabin, thank you.

You can listen to the above extract from the Today programme here.

Helen Hayden Look North Interview

Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for Infrastructure and Climate, Councillor Helen Hayden, was interviewed earlier this evening by BBC Look North presenter Phil Bodmer. Councillor Hayden spoke about the council’s decision to approve the airport’s planning application to expand, the need for the government to have a policy on airport expansion in the UK, and the need for funding. You can watch the interview here.