Leeds-Bradfield ‘cycle superhighway': a paradigm shift?

Yesterday an event called “Cycling – the Future?” took place, organised jointly by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), hosted at Leed’s MET University.  Below you will find a brief write-up of the event as well as some excellent slides.

It was an inspiring series of talks, showing how far the engineering profession has come in integrating active travel modes. As John Parkin said in his talk, the approach has shifted from changing designs -> changing plans -> changing mindsets. This latter point is often seen as a weak point for engineers but there was strong evidence of new thinking in the area, for example with the new Cycling Working Group of the ICE.  Things really are changing quickly in the field and things are moving faster than you may think. One example of this is the Leeds City Connect project, which is at the cutting edge of new cycling infrastructure funding.

Pete Zanzottera talked about the scheme and the importance of engaging with local people in addition to innovative infrastructure. Hopefully, if the project’s ambitious targets can be met, it will serve as a success story to be emulated across the country and beyond.

Adrian Lord, who also works on the City Connect project talked about the rapid growth in cycling and how this was pressuring changes at the local authority level in Leeds and beyond. He provided a number of excellent photos of best practice in ‘cycle proofing’ as well as sobering examples of what to avoid. Adrian used the example of visions of Leeds city centre to illustrate what could be achieved. The visions from Leeds Cycling Campaign also show that it’s about creating new open spaces, not just new paths.

Leeds Cycling Campaign: vision of the city centre

Last but not least was John Parkin, who talked about how the engineering profession is finally taking cycling seriously and moving towards more integrated thinking around infrastructure design, recommendations and regulation. Some of John’s thoughts on the subject of the future of urban transport can be seen in an open letter to the UK Government’s transport secretary urging for a shift in focus away from the assumption of continued growth in car use.

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