In response to the blog published yesterday, the Chief Executive of the Council has responded questioning my “assertion that the road is 25m wide,”, continuing, “This is not the case, the width of the carriageway is the key constraint in providing a scheme which meets the needs of all users. There is not space to provide all of: general traffic lanes; a northbound cycle lane; a southbound bus lane; and the current levels of parking. This is the reason the options presented in the consultation showed the potential compromises required within the scheme.”
He’s right about the width being less than 25 metres. My bad. I have corrected the original blog and noted the mistake. The width was an estimate based on Google images and Google satellite view and did not allow for the ownership of the frontage to the shops. I have this evening braved the traffic, cheap 5m tape measure in hand, and measured the carriageway. At the point shown in the image on the blog, the widest part of the road, the carriageway is 22 metres wide, plus 9 metres shop frontage. At the narrowest point of the proposed scheme, the carriageway is 18.2m wide. A one-man job with a tape too short will not be precise, but I would be very surprised if the actual width were more than half a metre less at any point.
However, even if I’m out by a couple of feet, I’ve calculated that the carriageway is plenty wide enough to accommodate what the Highways Department have declared impossible without compromise. Below is a detailed breakdown, citing the relevant design standards, of how the total width can be used to accommodate a proper width cycle lane (wider than any in Leeds), a shared bus and cycle lane, parking, and a buffer zone to protect cyclists from ‘dooring’. It also preserves the existing wide footways in order to keep cost down and provide for pedestrians.
I am not a highways engineer, of course, but I would be interested to understand where I have gone so far wrong in my calculations, and would be grateful for any comment in the box below.
Incidentally, the argument that “there is not space” is a very familiar one. David Hembrow, a transport expert now resident in the Netherlands compares side-by-side UK facilities where “our roads are too narrow” with Dutch provision of high quality cycle infrastructure on similar streets. David Hembrow runs study tours for transport professionals. I hope Leeds’ Highways Department staff will attend one.