Photo: Neil Hudson

Council plans to scrap 2+ lane ‘may turn Armley Town Street into rat run’, warn traders

25 March 2020

ARMLEY traders fear plans to scrap the 2+ lane on nearby Stanningley Road could lead to traffic chaos on Town Street, writes Neil Hudson.

Plans to scrap the high occupancy lane on Stanningley Road and turn it into a dedicated bus lane are due to be implemented later this year.

Butcher David Skelton, 70, who has worked in the town for the past 40 years, said:

“There are fears it will lead to traffic nose-to-tail on Town Street.
“The volume of cars [on Stanningley Road] is tremendous. The council say they don’t anticipate any extra traffic on Town Street but many think there will be, including using the Tesco/Wilko car park as a cut-through. If that happens, it will be a disaster.”

The works will last until June/July 2021 and will also involve significant changes to the traffic lights at the bottom of Branch Road, meaning cars heading out of Armley will no longer be able to turn left or go straight ahead.

Instead, drivers will initially have to turn right (towards Leeds and Armley Gyratory), before turning left down Pickering Street (currently one-way) and left again onto Canal Road, before heading back up to the lights to turn right.

Some fear the planned changes will lead to rat running on Armley Town Street and through Tesco/Wilko’s car park.

In a statement, Leeds City Council said it was aware of concerns about possible ‘rat-running’ but did not think they would pose a significant problem.

A spokeswoman told West Leeds Dispatch:

“As well as converting the High Occupancy Vehicle lane to a bus lane, the A647 Bus Priority Corridor project includes a major reconfiguration of the Armley Road/Ledgard Way junction.
“This reconfiguration will significantly increase the capacity of the junction for east and westbound traffic on the A647 (Stanningley Road/Armley Road), helping to reduce journey times for all vehicles passing through this junction on the A647.
“Traffic modelling undertaken in support of this project suggests that journey times for general traffic travelling eastbound on the A647 during the morning peak will fall by around three minutes.
“Similarly, journey times for general traffic travelling westbound on the A647 during the afternoon peak are expected to fall by around six minutes.
“It is not always possible to predict exactly how a scheme will influence driver behaviour.
“However, since these proposals will improve journey times on the main A647 corridor, the expectation is that this will encourage drivers to stick to the main road, rather than rat running.”

Plans for the A647 include new bus lanes and cycle lanes, improved footways, better pedestrian crossings and junction upgrades which the council says will benefit all traffic.

The council hopes the designs are capable of reducing bus journey times by up to 15 minutes at peak times, making bus journeys more reliable and attractive for the 12,000 people who travel along the route by bus each day. 

The council have said they have delayed start on the main works along the entirety of the A647.

A spokesperson said the council was “making some changes to our plans to try and address the concerns of the public.” They added:

“In advance of highway works, some vegetation clearance has begun in the Armley Road area, which will include some tree felling. This is necessary to accommodate the widening of Armley Road to introduce a new outbound bus lane. In order to compensate for the loss of existing trees, around three new trees will be planted for each tree removed.”

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Martin says:

I think this will happen too. My guess is that a third of drivers down the A647 ignore the 2+lane rule. Its slightly different right now, due to hardly any traffic on the roads due to the Corona Virus, but I would regularly count the number of cars passing me on my left that had one person in the car, while I was moving slowly in the right hand lane. Some days from the start at the end of the By-pass I would count 50 cars with one person until the 2+lane ended and that’s the ones I can see. That would be in a period of say 20mins at peak time. There will have been more, but could not see in to vans. So these people wont go on a bus, just because it moved quicker in small section of the whole journey. They will drive around it and Armley will be a first choice. The ring road may be a 2nd choice and driving down to Kirkstall maybe another, but Kirkstall is a bottleneck with so many traffic lights near the Bridge retail park. In my own circumstance, I drive to Wakefield from Bramley. Buses are not an option for me. The key point is that I don’t think it will improve the traffic flow, it just moves it elsewhere. Idle traffic causes more pollution, whereas flowing traffic will be less. Make the 2 lanes open to all traffic and make the cycle lane smaller so buses can have their own lane and polluting engines flow quicker.

Dianne Craven says:

Please rethink this change. It will make an already bad situation very dangerous for everyone. The shopkeepers are having a bad enough time as it is without nose to tail traffic!

Janet Coupland says:

This sounds horrendous. Put the buses in the cycle lane. I travel regularly down Stanningley Road and the most cycles I’ve seen on one journey is THREE!!!

John Radford says:

good old Leeds City Council who seem hell bent on creating mor congestion on our roads and seem to be going out of their way to increase pollution caused by standing traffic lets have some commonsense applied please