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Woodleigh Road back to 2-way PDF Print E-mail
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Written by A. Cyclist   
Monday, 24 January 2022 22:32

Without warning or consultation, the New Street end of Woodleigh Road is back to 2-way.

According to a nearby resident, contractors turned up at 11pm last Wednesday (19th January - just a few hours after Boris had announced abandonment of ‘Plan B’) with 3 vehicles and floodlighting to burn off the markings installed in September 2020 as part of the Covid-19 Active Travel measures.  The left side of this very narrow section of Woodleigh Road had been delineated as a ‘footpath’ and the ‘Weak Bridge’ notice covered with a ‘No Entry’ sign, with an exception for cyclists (who shared the delineated area with pedestrians).  The white ‘Give Way’ triangle and other markings were repainted at the same time.

This curious arrangement, which had been in place for over 7 years, indicates the road is still one-way: otherwise the correct marking is for the triangle and double dashed line to be on the exit side, with a single dashed line at the entry and a solid line along the middle of the road, as shown (right - courtesy Wikipedia).  Clearly Herefordshire Council considers carrying out this retrograde step (where employees were obviously paid overtime) to be a much higher priority than fixing potholes...

Also gone is the town-wide 20mph speed limit.

These measures were introduced to encourage cycling and walking during the pandemic, using government funding and a dispensation that removed the need for Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs).  Whilst I was initially sceptical, during the time it was in place it has proved popular and useful: I am unaware of any objections.  This period has been long enough to assess its effectiveness and for motorists to find other routes.  Indeed there is little demand for north-west bound traffic to enter from New Street since the east end of that road is inaccessible from the Top Cross owing to the one-way there.  Traffic from Ross and Hereford is using the bypass and Lower Road to get to where they want.  So it’s only lazy motorists who can’t be bothered to walk or cycle to the Co-op from the Victoria Road area who are likely to be affected.  There are over 100 objections to its removal on the so-called ‘Voice of Ledbury’ Facebook page.

Emails sent to county councillors Harvey and Howells, and to the original Balfour Beatty consultation department ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) so far have remained unanswered.

There had been a few violations, but most of those came from the Ross direction, from where the ‘No Entry’ sign couldn’t be seen until the last minute.  So if there was an expiry date, the council should have got its act together: it could have seen for itself by late summer 2021 how effective it was and enacted a TRO, complete with ‘No Left/Right Turn’ signs on New Street that would make it legally permanent.

The photo above was taken at about 3pm on Sunday 23rd January.  Not a particularly busy time, but I had to wait for 8 cars to exit before I could take it.  About 5 more went in the same direction while I was taking the two photos below.  Only one came the other way.

The safety of cyclists and pedestrians has been put back in jeopardy for no good reason.  The exit to New Street has always been narrow (5.3 metres wide at the junction) with very poor visibility - exacerbated by the trend towards even fatter cars (many are now well over 2 metres wide).  The road is only 4.6 metres wide at its narrowest point, where it turns slightly left - as shown by the yellow arrow in the photo.  (This particular point is very dark at night since it is midway between 2 streetlights.)  So there’s a potential for two obese Chelsea tractors to get stuck - woe betide any cyclist or pedestrian who happens to be there at the wrong time...

The Top Cross end of New Street, which has been one-way for over 30 years, is slightly narrower - the carriageway is only 4.3 metres wide (which, before the bypass was built, made the then A449 the narrowest ‘A’ road in England) - but it does have pavements both sides.

The climate emergency and Herefordshire Council’s own green policies go way beyond Covid.  This one-way (with a contra-flow for cyclists) MUST be reinstated immediately: motorists have already realised it has gone and have reverted to their old ways.

The surface was damaged where the markings were burnt off.
How long before we get some more potholes?

I’m not so bothered about abandonment of the town-wide 20mph limit because it was widely ignored and unenforceable.  20mph limits have to be backed up with physical measures such as chicanes and speed humps.  Though one could argue that parked cars on Bridge Street and potholes fulfil both these requirements...


Historical note:  An 1886 map of Ledbury shows the Gloucester railway and the bridge over it from New Street.  At the time, it only connected via a sharp bend into Oatleys Road: what is now the remainder of Woodleigh Road was only a footpath.

Part of this crossed a very large field that extended all the way from Bishopsgate Cottage in Bridge Street to what is now the western boundary of Mayville, near the junction with Victoria Road.  Thus Victoria and Albert roads, with their surrounding area, were completely separated from the rest of Ledbury: a 19th century ‘out-of-town’ development known as Newtown.

The map to the right (courtesy ledburyhistory.uk) shows the original crossing of the canal, on whose route the railway was subsequently built.