Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
Leeds city councillors will be warned next week that plans to allow motorcycles to use bus lanes on the A65 could lead to “conflict” between bikers and cyclists.
Plans to allow motorbikes to the marked lanes in parts of west Leeds were originally brought forward in September 2019, with councillors proposing a trial in an attempt to help alleviate traffic congestion.
After work was done to identify a site, the A65 from Abbey Road, Kirkstall, to the city centre was selected as an idea location.
Having developed proposals for a scheme, council officers say they did not get the support of Kirkstall ward councillors, due to their concerns about the safety of cyclists..
It added that, since the board last discussed the issue, “significant changes” were made to national guidance on cycling, warning allowing motorcyclists into bus lanes used by cyclists “is likely to be a deterrent to cycling and increase conflict”.
The document added:
“This guidance makes clear that if motorcycles are to be mixed with pedal cycles in a bus lane, the bus lane should have sufficient width (four metre minimum, ideally 4.5 metres).
“The A65 is the only bus lane in Leeds meeting this criteria. Following the guidance, thus leaves few other options.”
Kirkstall councillors’ concerns were based on the perceived risk to cyclists caused by allowing motorcyclists to use the A65 bus lanes.
The report added:
“The A65 is the only bus lane in Leeds which conforms to the widths specified. Because of this, Kirkstall members question the utility of a trial which would not be able to inform the other bus lanes in Leeds, a trial could only inform a position on the A65.
“Therefore they see the risk inherent in a trial which could only have limited use in informing future policy as being unsupportable, with any benefits motorcyclists may accrue, not to be worth discomforting and deterring cyclists, nor risking injury to cyclists.”
Members of the panel will be asked to either consider another site in Leeds, or withdraw the scheme altogether.
Richard Manton, a representative of the Leeds and Bradford Motorcycle Action Group said:
“We strongly believe that (Leeds City Council) are trying to swerve this issue as they plough ahead with their cycling and public transport schemes whilst making things more dangerous for another section of Vulnerable Road Users (motorcyclists) by compressing road space throughout the city.
“We’ve contacted many councillors and a few MPs and had positive support.”
The panel will meet to discuss the plans on Thursday, June 24.