Senior councillors will convene to discuss the impact of the Connecting Leeds transport strategy on travel in the region. The upcoming Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, 22 November, will provide insights into the substantial progress made within the framework of the Connecting Leeds transport strategy and plan.

The overarching goal of Connecting Leeds is to instigate a revolutionary transformation in the transport network and connectivity throughout Leeds and its broader region. The aim is to bring people, places, jobs, learning, and leisure closer together. This transformation involves enhancements to road, rail, bus, park and ride, cycling, and walking services and infrastructure. The ultimate objectives include reducing congestion, improving air quality, and enhancing accessibility.

A pivotal element of the transport strategy is to promote walking, cycling, and public transport usage, thereby contributing to carbon reduction by encouraging a shift away from private cars. This approach also supports inclusive growth by facilitating easier access to education, employment, and public services.

Since 2018, Connecting Leeds has attracted an unprecedented £750 million investment in the city’s transport network, in collaboration with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, bus operators, and other transport stakeholders. Notable projects include the Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme, East Leeds Orbital Route, City Square and associated works, Armley Gyratory, Regent Street flyover, and the recent introduction of Leeds City Bikes.

The closure of City Square to general traffic signifies a significant step towards transforming the city centre. This initiative aims to improve the main gateway from the railway station, prioritise public transport, and create enjoyable spaces for the people of Leeds. Monitoring of city centre travel habits between 2022 and 2023 reveals a 10% reduction in private car usage, with increased usage of bus, rail, walking, and cycling, with walking experiencing a notable 45% increase.

The successful launch of the Leeds City e-Bikes scheme in September, the largest of its kind in the UK, is expected to encourage more people to cycle. In the first month, 1,200 users covered 7,938km over 2,649 journeys, showcasing the popularity of the scheme.

The graphic below illustrates various performance indicators, including electric vehicle uptake, Starship delivery robots, SMART traffic signals, uptake at local rail stations, and road safety education through Bikeability cycle training.

To achieve the carbon targets outlined in the 2030 transport strategy, significant funding is required. Funding is essential for ongoing maintenance and the implementation of new key infrastructure programs aimed at promoting a substantial shift towards active travel and public transport.

Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and sustainable development, said:

“With so much work taking place across Leeds, I am delighted and proud to have experienced the completion of many schemes and especially the launch of Leeds City Bikes. Now with the fantastic new urban realm spaces around the city centre encouraging more walking and cycling, which now includes City Square, we can host one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets. And the removal of general traffic from City Square and reducing traffic in the area is helping to reduce emissions and improve overall air quality in the city centre.

“Combined with the ongoing works at Leeds City Station as part of the Sustainable Travel Gateway, the scheme will offer a much-improved gateway to the city centre and a safer environment for people entering and exiting the station.

“Everyone who has worked on these transport programmes should be very proud of what has been achieved and continues to be developed.

“But there’s still much more work to do, as seen by our works to complete Armley Gyratory by next summer, along with the works to Leeds Station Gateway Scheme and linking up new city centre cycling schemes. And not withstanding the great strides we are making to move towards making Leeds a city where you don’t need to use a car, by helping travel modal shift away from private vehicles. Our focus for many years to come will increasingly be on how we realise our Leeds Vision Zero ambition that by 2040 no one will be killed or suffer serious injuries on Leeds roads.

”To make these difficult and transformative changes, which have caused some disruption, we thank everyone for their patience as we continue to work really hard towards transforming transport in our city.”