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Grand Depart Route

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I realise this might sound completely naive and hopelessly ambitious, but I’ve emailed a couple of the organisers asking them to re-route a tiny section of the Grand Depart…

As it stands, Le Tour de France Grand Depart runs out of Leeds City centre along Regent Street, before making it’s way over Sheepscar Junction to Scott Hall Road and off to Harewood….

Regent Street is a miserable industrial development lacking any of the character that is so indicative of Leeds and Yorkshire, the peloton is basically just rolling past Maplins, Pratt’s furniture store, and a tyre centre.  I believe it should turning left off The Headrow onto New Briggate and heading out past St John the Evangelist’s Church (the oldest church in the centre of Leeds), Leeds Grand Theatre and home of Opera North, across the northern perimeter of the historic city of Leeds (at the top of New Briggate), past the spectacular Crispin Lofts and the beautiful parade of shops and apartments on North Street as well as the leafy Lovell Park.  This would be a far more picturesque and memorable route to Sheepscar Junction for the world’s television cameras for the opening minutes of one of the most watched sporting events in the world.

Admittedly, I’d be absolutely over the moon to see the peloton ride past North Bar, and I’m sure Sela, Wax, The Wrens, Sandinista, Belgrave, The Reliance plus Mojo, Reform, Verve and The Social would all feel quite chuffed with a ride by….  But joking apart and in all honestly this is not a sly ambition to get a few extra punters through the door, as I’m pretty certain we’re all going to be quite busy that weekend anyway….  I just genuinely believe it’s a more attractive and noteworthy route out of the city centre.

I can’t see that shifting the route to this suggested path would affect the flow of traffic or security issues any more or less than the current Regents Street route, it is potentially less disruptive as it could have a lesser effect on the flow of traffic to Leeds bus station. It’s a minor alteration in the opening mile that would have no bearing on the race result as it is still within the rolling start section.  Granted, Regent Street is much broader than North Street (over the inner ring road), potentially accommodating more spectators for a sizeable section but again Lovell Park offers a great vantage point and the council could even hold a mini festival there in the build up to the race.  North Street has plenty of exit routes and is very well connected to the city centre for foot traffic and is attractive.

I imagine there’s not even the remotest possibility of having any success with this, but I thought it would be negligent of me not to try…

Incidentally, they’ve already started building a cycle path along Regent Street, clearly just a decoration for Le Tour as I know of no cyclist who rides down there! Everyone heading North out of Leeds does so along North Street! I’m all for local government spending money to improve the safety of cyclists and promote more cycling but a lane on Regent Street seems like a complete waste of money to me.  Such a faux cycling lane has potential to stir bitterness about council investment, at least it would have some benefit if it was spent on a route that is heavily used by cyclists like North Street or even Headingley Lane…

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