I warned you…

… that if I didn’t have anything else to talk about, I’d have a moan about the one-way system in Leeds. I actually have something to talk about, but I’ve got a lot to do today, and it’ll be a big long post, so I’ll save it for next week when (hopefully) I’m not so busy.

So – the Leeds one-way system, or the City Loop as it’s known on the signs. That is, when you can see the signs. Many of them are really awkwardly placed – just behind the glare of some traffic lights, or hidden in a tree’s foliage, or right next to a bus stop, so you can’t actually see it when there’s a bus stopped there, which is frequently. So you either don’t see signs at all, or you see them too late, and you have to go on a detour round sub-bits of the one-way system to get back onto the right route, which can take you even further out of the way. They have big brown signs for tourist-y places (like the playhouse, the royal armouries, and so on) only at junctions, so if you’re using them as landmarks, you’re usually too late to change lanes.

The signs that are easy to see are the ones that are spectacularly uninformative about where you actually want to go. There’s frequently just a diagram and a road number, and usually a confirmation that you’re still on the City Loop. There’s no hint of where on the Loop you are, there’s nothing to indicate what’s ahead of you (except maybe the railway station or the motorways), and you can’t even turn off and pull over to check a map because if it’s not a dual carriageway (no stopping) there are double yellow lines. And if you do turn into a side street, you can’t turn round and go back onto the road you just came off.

The City Loop was supposedly designed to ease congestion in the city centre. Well, it has succeeded – but not because it keeps traffic flowing on major roads away from pedestrians. It’s succeeded because now the only people who come into Leeds centre by car are those who have to. If you don’t know where you’re going, you will get lost. The City Loop was designed when satnavs were a new and emerging technology, not the near-ubiquitous in-car box they are today. It’s almost as if the traffic planners said, “we don’t want anyone but taxi drivers and buses and residents to use these roads, despite the fact that there are so few residential areas affected by these roads, and most of the people coming into the city centre do so to go shopping, usually at shops that sell things that are really difficult to take home on the bus.” So the only people driving into Leeds are those who have memorised the route of the City Loop and everything it connects to and where and how, and those who haven’t yet, and subsequently spend twice as long as they need to driving round in spirals trying to get back on course, which incidentally takes the congestion level back up to what it was before the congestion-easing road-plan was implemented.

Leeds desperately needs several good (and free) park-and-rides. Either that, or an orbital bombing so it can be rebuilt without a fucked-up one-way system.

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