What is going on with the new road layout at Otley Road Shaw Lane junction? - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Elizabeth Nicholson, Leeds.

I have lived in Weetwood, in North Leeds for 34 years. Leeds City Council have recently carried out works to the Otley Road Shaw Lane junction, lasting for many months. Moving at the pace of a snail, the project made Headingley become the area to avoid, fraught with significant traffic jams and long tailbacks stretching either side of the Shaw Lane junction.

I haven't seen what this major work has cost the ratepayers, but I don't think they have had value for money.

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It would appear that the intention was to improve the traffic flow as it eased past the Arndale Centre, and to increase safety for cyclists. The original road layout had two lanes running from the Lawnswood Roundabout through to the traffic lights at the North Lane junction.

A general view of traffic on Otley Road. PIC: Jonathan GawthorpeA general view of traffic on Otley Road. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
A general view of traffic on Otley Road. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The inside lane functioned as a part-time bus lane, but also allowed other vehicles to use it during quieter times. Non-public transport was also permitted to filter in from the outside lane before the Shaw Lane lights. This inside lane provided access for straight on traffic and also for vehicles turning left.

The outside lane allowed traffic to go straight on or turn right at this junction. The number of vehicles turning right was relatively few, but drivers wishing to go straight had to edge around them or wait until there was room. This was not ideal, but it was not an accident black spot.

Since the improvements, the inside lane has become left turn only at Shaw Lane. Buses now have to pull out into the outside lane to go through the lights. They are assisted to do this by a set of lights situated on a small island in the middle of the inside lane a short distance from Shaw Lane. There is also now a dedicated lane for cyclists, which must be a bonus for them.

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The main difficulty for car drivers is that the same volume of traffic is now compressed into one lane as it approaches Shaw Lane. They can't all use buses and bicycles to get to work or schools, so numbers are unlikely to change.

The negative effects include longer stationary tailbacks towards the Lawnswood Roundabout, increased levels of air pollution and intensifying driver frustration. Meanwhile, the new improved inside left turn only lane is almost traffic free.

As a long-time resident and frequent user of this road, I cannot help but feel that the improvements have not improved the situation.

On Friday morning, driving down into Headingley at around 7.30 am, there was the sad sight of a car lying on its roof, surrounded by police cars and an ambulance. The car appeared to have collided with the bus lane traffic light. In all the years of the previous road layout, I have never seen such a severe accident on this stretch of road.

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My son commented that he had previously noticed pieces of car bumper debris lying around these new bus lane lights sometime before this latest collision.

It is sometimes difficult to understand the thinking behind some of Leeds City Council's traffic decisions. I refer to the strange proliferation of giant planters full of dead shrubs that they have dumped across residential streets in order to close them off to drivers. These unsightly grotesques only serve to re-route traffic to other streets, whilst serving a secondary unintentional purpose as rubbish bins.

One can only hope that the council are prevented from getting their hands on the Lawnswood Roundabout.