What are the aims of the scheme?
The existing junction has a poor safety record, no signalised crossing facilities, no facilities for cyclists, and no capacity to prioritise public transport. The scheme looks to tackle all these issues, whilst minimising the impact on greenspace and being sensitive to local concerns raised during public consultation on the previous proposals here in 2018.
When will the scheme be built, how will it be funded, and how much will it cost?
Leeds City Council has secured grant funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Corridor Improvement Programme to undertake public consultation and produce an Outline Business Case. Leeds City Council is actively pursuing further funding opportunities which would allow this scheme to be delivered. Should funding be secured, construction could begin as soon as 2023. The scheme would be expected to cost around £8-10 million, which would come from external sources, rather than from Leeds City Council funds.
Why has the design changed?
In 2018, Leeds City Council consulted on a proposal to replace the existing Lawnswood roundabout with a signalised crossroads. This scheme was paused and reviewed following predominantly negative responses received during the public consultation, which focused on the scheme’s impact on trees and green space. The current proposal considers both the comments received during the previous public consultation, and more recent developments in policy at Leeds City Council, such as the Climate Emergency declaration and Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy. Therefore, this revised proposal is better aligned with the Climate Emergency declaration and Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy and has a greatly reduced impact on trees and green space.
How will the scheme impact trees and green space?
The current proposal would require two to three trees to be removed, and another two trees to be relocated as part of the scheme. The previous proposal (signalised crossroads) would have required at least 17 trees to be removed, with a further 20 trees being at risk during construction. The impact on trees and green space was raised as a key concern during the consultation undertaken in 2018. Development of the current proposal has been driven by meeting the scheme objectives whilst minimising the impact on trees and green spaces.
The impact on grass verges and green space has also been reduced in comparison with the previous proposal. The signalised crossroads scheme would have impacted on grass verges on all approaches to the Lawnswood junction and on Otley Old Road, and would have required the removal of the green space at the centre of the Lawnswood junction. The current proposal will avoid any impact on verges on Otley Old Road, and will retain and reshape the green space at the centre of the Lawnswood roundabout. Verges on the approaches to the Lawnswood junction will still be impacted, but with smaller impacts than for the previous, signalised crossroads proposal.
Will cyclists use the proposed segregated facilities ?
Leeds City Council has ambitious plans to increase cycling, and this will mean attracting new cyclists, who would be likely to consider the existing roundabout as a major barrier. Less confident or less experienced cyclists would be likely to use the segregated cycle facilities proposed for the junction. Some more confident cyclists may still choose to remain within the carriageway under the proposed layout. Experience from the recently completed scheme at the A61N / Outer Ring Road junction suggests that the proposed facilities would be well used by cyclists.
Will there be new parking restrictions?
The proposed design would require waiting and loading restrictions within the proposed bus lane, and on all approaches to the Lawnswood roundabout. 24 hours waiting and loading restrictions are required along the full length of the proposed bus lane. Physical extents and hours of operation of waiting and loading restrictions on the other approaches will be determined during detailed design. 24 hours waiting and loading restrictions would also be required within the proposed segregated cycle tracks.
How will parking on the verges be affected?
Some of the verges on the approaches to the junction would need to be narrowed or removed, to accommodate the proposed segregated cycle tracks and carriageway widening. This will prevent parking in these locations. Access to properties on all arms of the junction will be maintained via existing driveways and access roads.
How will air quality be affected?
The proposed scheme would significantly improve provision for walking, cycling and public transport. This would be expected to encourage modal shift away from private car use, thereby improving air quality in the area.
The impact on air quality in the immediate vicinity of the junction is less clear, because adding traffic signals changes how vehicles move through the junction. At unsignalised roundabouts, queuing vehicles often accelerate and decelerate repeatedly, whereas the introduction of signals could mean that vehicles stop once when confronted with a red light, before setting off at the green light to traverse the junction in one movement. Conversely, during quieter periods, an unsignalised roundabout may allow a vehicle to traverse the junction without stopping at all. To investigate this further, we have commissioned some air quality modelling work, the results of which will help to inform the business case for this scheme.
What benefits will the bus lane have?
The proposed bus lane can be introduced via reallocation of existing road space. It will not impact on trees or green space. It’s not expected to significantly impact journey times for general traffic, as the constraint for southbound traffic flows is at the roundabout itself (or, at sometimes of day, the southbound exit towards Headingley). Analysis of bus journey times prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has found delays of up to 8 minutes for buses traversing the Lawnswood junction. Lack of reliability is a key factor in putting people off using buses. The bus lane will help to protect against this variability, and will act to protect bus journeys in case of growth in traffic associated with proposed new housing in north Leeds.
What will be the hours of operation of the proposed bus lane?
The bus lane is proposed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is the usual approach to bus lanes in Leeds, except where there is a specific reason to the contrary, for example, demand for parking or loading at the kerbside. We are not aware of any demands for parking or loading within the relevant section of carriageway and are therefore proposing that the bus lane always operates.
How will traffic accessing Otley Road from Otley Old Road be affected?
Southbound traffic on Otley Old Road will still be able to turn either right or left onto Otley Road. The proposed southbound bus lane on Otley Road would limit general traffic to one lane on Otley Road, which we would expect to reduce speeding amongst southbound vehicles. This should make it safer for vehicles turning right from Otley Old Road to Otley Road.
Traffic modelling undertaken to date suggests that queuing on the southbound approach to the roundabout will not extend back as far as Otley Old Road. We would therefore expect there to be sufficient gaps in the flow of traffic on Otley Road to allow vehicles to turn right onto Otley Road from Otley Old Road.
What is Leeds City Council doing to tackle congestion in Headingley?
A step-change in highway capacity in Headingley cannot be achieved without a major impact on the local area. With the anticipated economic and population growth in Leeds, additional trips must be accommodated within the city’s transport networks. Continued reliance on car trips at the same rates at present will only generate more congestion. The proposed scheme will improve facilities for buses, walking and cycling, thereby making these modes more attractive for a greater proportion of trips. This will help to ensure that any increase in trips can be met by these more sustainable modes, which make more efficient use of road space. This is consistent with the Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy’s objectives to reduce car use, encourage use of public transport, walking and cycling. In this way, the Lawnswood roundabout scheme, alongside plans currently under development to improve cycle facilities and bus priority elsewhere on the A660 corridor, will help to tackle congestion on the A660.
What is the meaning of ‘wheeling’, as used in consultation materials pertaining to this scheme?
Wheeling incorporates many methods for getting around, including using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walking aids and travelling with a pram or pushchair.
Has a Cyclops junction been considered?
CYCLOPS junctions (Cycle Optimised Protected Signals, also known as Circulating Cycle Stage Junctions) have been implemented in a number of cities in the UK in recent years. CYCLOPS junctions typically provide orbital routes around the junction for cyclists, with parallel, signalised crossings of the carriageway for cyclists and pedestrians. The layout currently proposed for Lawnswood roundabout differs from a CYCLOPS junction in the following ways:
Whilst CYCLOPS junctions can have advantages for cyclists and pedestrians, the proposed layout represents a step change improvement in cycling and walking provision at this junction, and would represent a major improvement in road safety for all modes.
How would cyclists heading north on Otley Road proceed towards Adel?
Cyclists wishing to proceed northwards from the roundabout would initially use the proposed shared space within the footway on the western side of Otley Road, before joining the existing advisory cycle lane northbound on Otley Road, at the Woodlands Court access road.
Will the signalisation of the roundabout cause congestion?
Traffic modelling undertaken to date indicates that, during the peak periods, delays experienced by vehicles traversing the junction during the AM and PM peak periods would be significantly reduced under the proposed layout, in comparison with the existing layout. The results also suggest that queue lengths would be reduced under the proposed layout, during the peak periods.
U-turns at Otley Old Road
We are aware that a significant number of drivers travelling northbound on Otley Road perform u-turns in this location to head south towards Lawnswood roundabout. This allows vehicles exiting Grangewood Gardens and Woodlands Court to access Lawnswood roundabout. It is not clear how the capability to perform this u-turn could be physically restricted whilst continuing to facilitate right turns from Otley Old Road to Otley Road. Whilst the u-turn could in principle be banned, this would be inconvenient for residents of Grangewood Gardens and Woodlands Court, and would lead to u-turns either being undertaken illegally at the same location, further north on Otley Road (e.g. at Lawnswood Gardens), or on Otley Old Road. It is not clear that any of these alternative u-turn locations would be safer than the Otley Old Road location, particularly given that we have no record of any personal-injury road traffic collisions within the past 5 years involving vehicles performing u-turns in this location.