Apology issued as Leeds to Bradford cycle superhighway falls two months behind schedule

The City Connect scheme has been beset with delays. Picture by James Hardisty.

The City Connect scheme has been beset with delays. Picture by James Hardisty.

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Setbacks in the construction of the Seacroft to Leeds section of a multimillion pound cycleway have led transport bosses to apologise for delays.

The 23km Leeds to Bradford cycle superhighway, known as City Connect, is the major part of a £29million investment in cycling that has also yielded canal towpath improvements between Kirkstall and Shipley.

The first 14km section of the flagship route, from Church Bank in Bradford to Leeds city centre, opened in June.

But problems during the construction of the remaining scheme from the Asda near Seacroft Hospital to the city centre via the A64 have led to the project falling more than two months behind schedule.

“Firstly, let us apologise for the delays on the scheme,” A City Connect spokeswoman said. “The City Connect project is the most ambitious cycling project in the country, and the first scheme of its kind outside London.

“With a scheme of this ambition, there will inevitably be some issues encountered during construction, which has regrettably led to delays.”

Damage done to Leeds’ road network during the Boxing Day floods, issues with gas mains, drainage and considerations relating to future developments en route have been cited as affecting progress.

City Connect has said the cycleway should be up and running by the end of September – more than two months later than planned.

The spokeswoman added: “We understand the frustrations experienced with the ongoing works but this is necessary as we want to get the best value for taxpayer money, and to avoid disruption from future closures in the area.”

Despite much fanfare at the first part of the Government-funded cycle superhighway opening, the project has received criticism from cycling charities and planners over its design.

Dom Jacques, of Leeds, rides the route in Thornbury with his two children Frankie and Byron. Picture by James Hardisty.

Dom Jacques, of Leeds, rides the route in Thornbury with his two children Frankie and Byron. Picture by James Hardisty.

Roger Geffen MBE, policy director at the Cycling UK charity, has been quoted as saying City Connect “is a compelling case for national design standards to ensure that funds earmarked for cycling are not wasted”.

But bullish officials in both Bradford and Leeds have urged cyclists to give the route a chance.

At the launch of the Leeds city centre to Bradford section, Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s transport lead, said: “We are actually trying to encourage cycling long term.

“The one thing people say is, ‘I would love to cycle but I don’t like being in the flow of traffic and we don’t have segregated facilities,’ and we have responded.”

Meanwhile consultation is ongoing on phase two of City Connect, which would incorporate Elland Road, Beeston, and the emerging education quarter around Black Bull Street, Hunslet, to the south of the city centre.

For details visit cyclecityconnect.co.uk

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