By Leonie Stanton
A CONTROVERSIAL new cycling superhighway linking Leeds to Bradford is to be completed within the next week, following months of delays.
The project was developed to encourage inexperienced cyclists to take to the road, and involved Bradford City Council, Leeds City Council, and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
But the scheme has been criticised by West Yorkshire residents who have expressed concerns over the cost to the public purse and questioned the highway’s popularity with cyclists.
Alistair Cameron, a semi-retired IT specialist from Leeds, created ‘Leeds £29m Cycle Super Highway’, a public group on Facebook to campaign against the scheme’s expenditure and delays.
He said: “When I heard about a ‘superhighway’ I was the first to shout. I want cyclists to be safe, a cycle lane was my ideal. I thought it would make cycling safe, and thought it was a brilliant idea.”
But Mr Cameron, who travels the route by car every weekday, changed his opinion when he and his wife, Anne, became concerned about the highway’s appearance and infrequency of use.
“It is not being used, it will never be used enough, and then it will be taken away. People do not like confusion and the A64 towards Seacroft looks like a skateboard park with raised kerbs every 6 feet, it’s an absolute joke.”
The project fell behind schedule as its initial spring 2016 launch date was set back to late June, and some sections of the 23 km route attracted criticism from cycling groups and travel consultants who said it was badly designed.
A spokesperson for City Connect said: “We’re really pleased with the work so far. It is the first time the city has had something of this scale.
“Some of the delays were caused because we had to make design changes in order to get it right. There will be no more major disruption, only small tweaks when needed. Continuing road works are in no way connected to the superhighway project.
“The highway is not aimed at people who already cycle. We aim to offer an alternate route to travel.”
The route runs from Church Banks in Bradford, to Seacroft in East Leeds, via Barkerend Road, Stanningley, Bramley, Armley and Leeds City Centre.
Leeds City Council was one of eight cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle, to be awarded part of a £156 million Government investment in cycling.
The Cycle Superhighway was also funded by the Department of Transport and the Department for Health.
City Connect said it aimed to make cycling a natural and popular choice, and to improve local air quality by reducing CO2 levels.
Chris Bell, policy officer for Leeds Green Party said: “We welcome the investments in cycling infrastructure and the message this sends about promoting healthy sustainable transport methods.
“We think this will have long term benefits and help reduce carbon emissions and increase the safety of cycling in west Yorkshire.
“However, we acknowledge that the implementation of the superhighway is not without its design flaws and that we accept there was significant disruption during its building phase.”
A spokesperson for The Bike Shop, an independent cycle store near the cycle highway route in Leeds, said: “We have got some good feedback about the highway from customers. But some others have complained about bollards, which are in places you wouldn’t expect.”