Cyclist claims Burley chicane is dangerous

A CYCLIST is accusing Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council of failing to consult properly over the creation of a new road chicane.

A safety audit carried out by Bradford Council highlighted two areas of concern over the design of the traffic-calming feature now in place under the railway bridge at Station Road.

The audit concluded that there was no provision for cyclists in the scheme, and asked for a different solution to be considered due to accessibility concerns over the single lane the chicane would create.

The audit’s findings were published last April, but Burley Parish Council (BPC) confirmed at its annual meeting that it had not seen them until March 25, 2010 – after the chicane had already been installed.

Resident and cyclist Riaz Meer says that meant neither local councillors nor the public had a chance to scrutinise the audit’s conclusions or act upon them.

He said: “It is of course one thing for the parish council to have looked at the audit and then decided on balance that the scheme should go ahead, but not to have even read it or made its findings known to the local community is an affront to local consultation.

“Cycling through the chicane feels very dangerous now and has, I’m sure, deterred people from cycling between Burley and Burley Woodhead. The engineers’ concerns about any blocking of the single lane are very real for Burley residents.

“We all know that a beck coming off Ilkley Moor goes under the road at this point and the risk of flooding, despite measures taken to clear the culvert, must remain a strong possibility in the future.”

Mr Meer also believes the scheme has altered drivers’ behaviour for the worse, encouraging them to speed on the approach to the chicane to “get through first”.

BPC, however, is adamant it behaved correctly and insists it was right for the chicane to go ahead.

A spokesman said: “A copy of the audit was only made available to the parish council in March and discussed at the annual meeting of the Parish. We accepted the recommendations of traffic and highways officers that the scheme is acceptable in its current form and that the safety audit is a guidance document for the engineers.

“We were consulted on the scheme and given the opportunity to comment, but the final decision to go ahead rested with Bradford Council. Given the brief for the scheme and the impossibility of providing suitable cycle facilities, a decision needed to be made on abandoning the scheme or progress it with an acceptance that cyclists have to give way at this location like other traffic, not unlike other facilities around the district. The latter decision was taken.

“Furthermore, we are aware that Mr Meer was offered opportunities to meet with senior traffic and highways engineers to discuss his concerns directly, but did not take up this opportunity.”

He added that BPC hoped a proposed traffic- calming scheme for Moor Lane, currently being drawn up by Bradford Council, would tackle the issue of motorists approaching the chicane too quickly.

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