Urgent changes to Leicester City Centre

Today I was in Leicester City Centre between about 4:30pm and 6:10pm.

It was incredibly obvious that Leicester City Centre needs a transport revolution.

For the whole of that time, traffic in the centre of the City was almost completely stationary.

I walked from the Town Hall to Victoria Park and back, when ever I was on a road with cars they were barely moving.

When leaving I came out of the Bike Park at the Town Hall just after 6pm and the cars, taxis & buses were just not moving anywhere. Yet they were all aggressively edging ever closer to each other, unwilling to let pedestrians and cyclists through.

So the city centre is full of these vehicles going nowhere.

But worse than that. They are spewing out fumes, CO2 and particulates while going nowhere.

But worse than that. They are actively blocking the people who are moving on foot and by bike while they go nowhere.

Why do we let this happen?

My simple solution would be to close every single road inside the Central Ring to all motorised vehicles. I do mean completely closed with very limited exceptions such as:

  • Direct access to car parks within the Central ring. But only one route in and out for each car park with 20mph speed limit.
  • Coaches to have access to St Margaret’s coach station and nowhere else
  • Two bus routes across the city centre (one north/south and one east/west). Buses to be the only motorised vehicles on these routes (apart from taxi’s carrying or collecting a disabled person). They will be limited to a maximum of 10mph on these routes.
  • Taxis to only enter the City Centre if they are carrying or collecting someone with a disabled badge and then only on the two roads open to buses. Whenever they are within the central ring there will be a speed limit of 10mph.

To replace the cars and taxis that are currently in the City the following measures are needed.

  • Taxi ranks to be provided just inside the Central Ring (say 4 in total).
  • The City to support the provision of pedicabs for hire to replace taxis around the city centre (it is not very large and is mostly flat)
  • The City to implement Hire Bikes (like the Boris Bikes in London) all across the City Centre with safe segregated routes between the Car Parks, Shopping Centres, Stations, Universities, Theatres & Hospitals.
  • Massive expansion of secure Bike parking. Nowhere in the city centre to be more than 200 metres from a safe place to store a bike, the majority of these spaces with rain covers (it rains here).

Deliveries will to be sorted.

  • The main shopping  centres (eg Highcross) with specific delivery areas will have one route in and out with 10mph speed limit.
  • Elsewhere a complete ban on any motorised delivery vehicle within the Central Ring between say 8am and 8pm, outside these hours a permit will be needed (and should be paid for and there should be a limited number available)
  • A delivery system to be offered from warehousing around the Central ring by delivery trike (with electric assist). This will use trikes such as the Cycles Maximus with Electric Assist which are euro-crate and euro-pallet system compatible and can carry 250kg. Range is 30 miles and they can climb a 20% hill fully laden. This will be the only way to get deliveries during the day (unless using your own bikes or walking with a trolley).

Disabled access.

  • Mobility scooters to be available at several Car Parks, free to anyone with a disabled badge.
  • Taxis carrying or collecting a disabled passenger to be allowed to use the two bus routes through the centre, but no waiting.

Faster and safer for pedestrian and bikes

  • Much improved crossings for pedestrians and cyclists to be provided at every junction of the Central Ring. This will include bridges or subway (wide, well lit and direct routes with ramps) at key points (Rail Station, routes from Universities and Colleges etc).
  • There need to be Park and Ride car parks well outside the central ring. The car parks should be free with hire bikes available and safe segregated Cycle Routes (with priority at junctions) into the city centre. Buses also to be available (but not free).
  • The whole City Centre to gradually be re-modelled for pedestrians and cyclists by
    • All traffic lights removed.
    • Most  streets that are not bus routes to have a marked cycle lane down the middle (wide enough to be used by emergency vehicles) and the rest be pedestrianised.
    • The pedestrianised areas to have pavement, nice planting, seating areas, art displays, street vendors (non motorised, play equipment, cycle parking, park areas etc
  • The network of cycle routes into the City to be massively expanded in quality (full segregation, good surfaces, lighting, gritting, sweeping, direct routes etc)  and have a high priority at junctions (green wave, subways, bridges, …).

What a wonderful difference this would make to the City. How much more pleasant it would be to visit, shop, to arrive for work, to work in and to move about. Not only that but incredibly less frustrating for car drivers and much better for their health as well.

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