Pilot areas for improving Calderdale’s walking and cycling infrastructure have been identified.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Working Party heard transport planner Tom Jones outline two schemes to push the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Programme forward.
Generally, the project aims to build on the success of the Tour De France legacy which energised Calderdale and with subsequent years – including 2019 – seeing the borough involved in the Tour De Yorkshire, also the recently introduced Calderdale Cycling Strategy and West Yorkshire Combined Authority goals, whether these affected arterial routes or more local journeys.
The council has also adopted policies aimed at improving health, including tackling air quality and developing walking and cycling routes to encourage people out of their cars.
In terms of walking, the initial focus will be on Park ward, chosen because of its proximity to Halifax town centre and its population density, meaning there is likelihood of demand there.
The ward is on the edge of a major investment area – the town centre – but screened off and separated by the A58/Burdock Way major route for vehicles into Halifax.
Mr Jones said in terms of cycling Brighouse had been chosen for its population density, being Calderdale’s second centre after Halifax, and taking into account journets people are currently making.
“There is a lot of potential for development in the Brighouse part of the world.
“It is important from a cycling perspective, that those journeys are protected as we move forward with housing and major transport schemes,” he said.
In terms of the whole Calderdale district, key journeys are being mapped.
Community involvement in developing the schemes is critical, said Mr Jones. Consultants are now starting to produce reports.
Working party chair Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said that speaking about the issue at the last Brighouse Town Board meeting it was said it is an amazing chance to use local knowledge to develop a local cycling scheme.
“The ambition is eventually to move into other areas – the funding didn’t extend as far as that,” he said.
Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) asked if there could be a clarity of who had the right of way when cycling and walking routes converged, for example on canal towpaths.
Mr Jones said it was a difficult thing to police but it was hoped a programme of signage in key locations, for example where a path got particularly narrow, would help.
Coun Collins said contact had been made with the Cycling Forum and discussions were underway, with cyclists feeling it was about walkers too and that segregating the two would be the wrong way to go about it.
“They’ve got the right attitude. We are trying to find a way for everyone to live together,” he said.
Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) said her favourite project would be an underpass from the bottom of Gibbet Street to provide a route to walk straight into town, there was community support for walking routes into town and more generally where the town centre was concerned a connection route from the regeneration areas down to a key employment area like Dean Clough would be welcomed.
“We need to make it easier for people from different parts of town to walk to Dean Clough and for people there to walk to the bus station and rail station,” she said.
Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Anthony Rae said it was commendable some resources had been found to tackle these issues and there were good reasons why this was worthwhile.
He hoped where walking routes were being shaped, the Local Plan could do some of the work to factor paths in, and in terms of cycling a key one would be the A646 corridor which had a choice of three routes, road, river and canal – thought had to be given to “do we want three?” “If we duplicate we feel someone’s not decided.” he said.
Mr Jones said that was not necessarily the case as there were different “markets” in a sense – commuters were a small but growing part of the cyclist community and would still want to use a road route. Conversely, towpaths appealed more to encourage families to take up cycling, he said.
Coun Marilyn Greenwood (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said Greetland to West Vale did not feature in the plans but yet was an area where the council was looking to create a “greenway” which included an escorted walk for local children.
Coun Collins said she was right and the input of ward councillors should be sought. “It is being discussed by the Elland Town Board,” he said.