Wild West: Leeds traffic congestion is at crisis point

1 December 2015

Have you noticed how much worse traffic congestion seems to be in Leeds these days?

Each morning and evening commute seems to be getting worse. And it’s not just peak times either. I was in the city centre on Saturday afternoon and there were warnings flashing on bus stop information panels that buses were delayed due to congestion.

Every major city has problems with traffic congestion, but issues in Leeds have become more pronounced during the past six months.

Here in West Leeds we always seem to have it worse than most in the city. The A65 through Burley and Kirkstall suffers incredible congestion and delays even at so-called quiet times. Millions of pounds worth of investment hasn’t managed to solve the problem. And Armley Gyratry is always busy.

Two massive traffic pinchpoints, often struggling to cope under the sheer volume of traffic. And lets not forget the issues facing Kirkstall – and its traffic light nightmare – itself.

The announcement that Leeds Station is due to get a HS2 makeover (if it ever happens) was counterbalanced by these pithy Tweets via an Armley resident fed up by her daily traffic nightmare:

You can see her point. My journey into work involves travelling down Tong Road using the bus. Most days it’s not too bad. But increasingly it’s snarled up.

One little accident somewhere near the city centre seems to have a knock on effect that leads to the entire city grinding to a peak-time halt. Some of you may well have been stuck in waiting for a bus for over an hour last Thursday, waiting for buses home that never came due to traffic congestion caused by a couple of accidents.

Leeds is genuinely facing a traffic crisis that is desperately in need of solving. But what is the answer? We asked on Twitter – here’s a selection of views from the Twitterati:

So how can we give traffic in Leeds a massive overhaul?

There are a lot of solid ideas above. The need for better public transport comes to mind and at least giving people the option of alternative methods of transport.

We’ve covered the issues surrounding the building of the cycle superhighway in a lot of depth, and the impact of the building work on residents and businesses.

In the long term, initiatives like this are a good start in getting people out of cars as long as they’re backed up by a concerted campaign to encourage cycle use. The battle for this one starts with winning people’s minds and encouraging them to change the way they travel, which is easier said than done.

One thing is for certain, it’s time we had a proper conversation – perhaps a city summit? – about this issue. Lets involve residents, politicians, highways people and city planners – and other thoughts?

It’s time for this conversation to be ratcheted up a level or two – no matter how difficult the answers may be to find. Leeds simply can’t go on as it is now.

The Wild West is a regular opinion and comment column. Views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Leeds Dispatch.




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Paul M says:

When it rains like it did this morning you really see the difference that people driving to work instead of walking and cycling makes to the evening traffic. I cycled home from work today (Boar Lane to Armley) and the amount of traffic was ridiculous. Complete gridlock all down Wellington Street and Kirkstall Road, then all the way up Canal Road into Armley! I’ve nothing against people driving if it necessary, I own a car as well, but Leeds needs to reduce it’s dependance on cars as a way to get around. That’s why it’s so important that schemes like CityConnect have backing from motorists as well as cyclists. Every cyclist/pedestrian you see is one less car sharing that traffic jam with you!

Cycling or walking isn’t an option for everyone though. I read the other day that the Leeds region is the second largest economy in the UK, yet we have no mass transit system. Instead of getting all excited about HS2/3 our council should be pushing for something bigger and better. London is getting a new underground line in the form of Crossrail, why can’t Leeds. Our councillors should be lobbying the government to build new infrastructure projects in their ‘Northern Powerhouse’ instead of a vanity project that will knock 20 minutes of the time to get to London.

Dave says:

Congestion all week culminating in Kirkstall Rd traffic southbound traffic turning right halfway down Wellington Street. Holding traffic up mornings and evenings. Is this caused by the left turn down Water Lane being closed and causing all the car park traffic to use the route via Wellington Street? If so, the council should try to direct people in via the turn off at Dunelm Mills as the tailbacks are clogging up all the box junctions and having an impact on the A64 underpass and loop roads.

I think general congestion is back to 2008 levels presumably due to more people back working in Leeds!