Cycle trails around Leeds are being blocked by barriers too narrow to get a bike through, according to those who travel by bike in the area.
Several cycle routes – including parts of the National Cycle Route (NCN) – were fitted with “A-frames” from 2005, presumably to prevent motorised traffic accessing greenways, but these are so narrow many standard bicycle handlebars cannot fit through.
Ollie Clark, who cycles around Leeds, posted photos on Twitter of him unsuccessfully trying to get through one A-frame with his young daughter on the pannier rack. Sustrans, the charity that manages the NCN, says they will consult with Leeds City Council on the removal of the barriers, after road.cc highlighted the issue.
Clark tweeted a picture of one of the barriers to a cycle path in Black Moor, near Headingly, to Leeds City Council saying: “How are you supposed to get a bike onto this cycle path? Should I take an angle grinder?”
— Ollie Clark (@ollieclark) September 23, 2016
Clark told road.cc: "The blocked cycle path means I have to use quite a busy, narrow road when I take my daughter to ballet every Saturday. I've had quite a few 'close passes'."
The Twitter account, Leeds Council Help, told Clark the A-frames were the responsibility of the local Highways department, however, and pointed him to an online form to lodge a complaint.
A Spokesperson for Sustrans in the North of England told road.cc a better solution to prevent motorised traffic using cycle routes would be bollards “to ensure equal and inclusive access”, referring to the difficulty adapted bicycles may have getting through the barriers.
The spokesperson said: “We recognise and support Leeds CC's efforts to get more people out on bikes through their CityConnect development and vision.
“There are obvious issues with the construction of many 'A-frame' style barriers, and this is another example of such.”
“We appreciate the difficulty of stopping motorising traffic access to NCN and other areas, however this particular example can be easily bypassed by motorised traffic anyway slightly further along the road anyway."
“Therefore we would recommend removing this barrier and we will look to take this issue up with Leeds CC.”
The same A-frames are used elsewhere in Leeds, according to local cyclists, including a cycle route in Buck Stone road, on the National Cycle Network. One cyclist said you can get through them on a road bike, but risk grazing your knuckles as you do.
Maff Mace, called the A-frames “stupid”. He tweeted: “There’s one at the new Kirkstall Forge train station that goes to the national cycle way.”
Graham Lake said: “The greenway between Yeadon and Guiseley has these, ridiculous design.”
If you’re thinking Leeds and narrow cycle infrastructure sounds familiar, you may be remembering the 75cm wide “cycle superhighway”, built by transport partnership CityConnect, with cycle city ambition fund money from central Government.