Residents in West Leeds are “extremely unhappy” at plans to convert the Stanningley Road two-plus lane into a bus lane, a meeting has heard, writes Richard Beecham.
Leeds City Council’s executive board met today to give the green light to £10 million plans to transform the A647 Leeds to Bradford corridor, giving buses priority.
The meeting heard how the authority wished to scrap the road’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane, which can only be used by cars containing two or more people, as the rule was “impossible to enforce”.
But opposition councillors said the changes could displace vehicles and cause even more congestion on the route.
So what do the plans involve?
- A new bus lane in Pudsey between Sunnybank Lane and Woodhall Park Drive (inbound) and restriction of on-street parking.
- A new bus lane between Thornbury Barracks and Grange Avenue (outbound). These would both be in operation at peak times only.
- New bus priority signals at the Stanningley Road/Swinnow Lane junction. – A new bus lane (inbound) from Bramley Town End to Wyther Park Mount which would be in operation for 24 hours.
- The Stanningley Road car share lane for cars with more than one occupant would be converted into a bus-only lane to the Outer Ring Road. It is currently one of the worst bus delay points in the city and the council have estimated that around 33 per cent of cars are using it inappropriately. New bus priority signals would be installed at merger points.
- The Mike’s Carpets junction in Armley would be reconfigured. The right turn from east to north, straight ahead from south to north, left turn from south to west, and the left turn from north to east would all be removed to improve traffic movements. 200m of new segregated cycle lane would be built.
Why are the changes being made?
Leeds City Council’s portfolio holder for transport Coun Richard Lewis (Lab, Pudsey) told today’s executive board meeting:
“It’s a £10m scheme which will deliver significant time savings for bus travellers coming into the city. It will also deliver time-savings for other road users.
“The biggest item is the removal of the HOV lanes which have proved a mixed blessing in some ways – one of the main problems being that it is impossible to enforce, with very significant misuse by single travellers.”
Why do some people think it would be a problem?
Some fear that Stanningley Road could become even more congested as a result of making one of its lanes “bus-only”.
The leader of the authority’s opposition Conservative group, Coun Andrew Carter, said he did not believe the measures would make things easier for commuters between Leeds and Bradford. He told the meeting:
“I am very concerned some of the proposals will not have all beneficial effects Coun Lewis has spelled out.
“Some of my worries have been addressed, but the history of the Council’s changes on the A647 is not a happy one. Residents are extremely unhappy about a number of the measures implemented.
“I want clarification on the proposed bus lanes on the A647, but also with the conversion of the high occupancy vehicle lane. There is talk about consideration of this bus lane being operative in rush hours, and not in others. Has a decision been taken on that?
“The displacement of other vehicles, particularly on the route between the Bradford boundary and Dawson’s corner will be substantial.”
He added that he believed traffic congestion along the route could actually worsen air pollution once the council’s proposed clean air zone is implemented next January.
He said: “The clean air zone will, in this area, be on the outer ring road, therefore from Dawson’s Corner to the Bradford boundary will be subject to more air pollution than is currently the case.”
Responding to Coun Carter, a council officer said:
“We are talking about principles here, but there are certain elements that need to be followed up in due course.
“There will be notices posted on site and in the local papers for people to comment on.
“In terms of the 24-hour bus lane or peak hour bus lane, we need to discuss this further. We do have a view at the moment, but we need to discuss that prior to advertising the traffic regulation order.”