Kirklees Cycling Campaign
Newsletter Number 21 – August 2018
Hello and welcome to Kirklees Cycling Campaign Newsletter No.21.
This edition is devoted to plans for cycling in the area around the A629.
John Lewis – KCC chair
Back in the early 1970’s – around the time when the Huddersfield Ring Road was being constructed – something significant was happening in The Netherlands. The politicians across the North Sea were being persuaded to begin to make special provision for cycling in their road plans. Since that time more than 40% of the Dutch population have regularly ridden bikes because there are designated places for them to ride. Year on year the Dutch invest a significant proportion of their transport budget on infrastructure for cyclists, which is why they have such a comprehensive network. This has not stopped them investing in roads for motor transport and it has not prevented the population being owners of cars. It has meant, however, that the car is used much less because, for a lot of the time, a journey on a bike is more practical. The bike has become a very useful and positive part of their culture.
In the decades since the 1970’s, until very recently in the UK, there has been little or no investment in cycling infrastructure, but there has been an ever increasing use and dependence on the motor vehicle. There has been significant financial investment in road building in this period, but it never seems to cope with the continual increase in vehicles on the roads.
More recently we have become more aware of the health implications of a car dependent culture as well as the detrimental effect it can have on our communities, whether they be villages or towns.
Some KCC committee members have recently been looking in detail at the possibility of designing ‘Quiet’ cycle routes that run through residential streets on either side of the A629. These streets currently experience considerable amounts of through traffic from vehicles avoiding the main roads in an effort to shorten their journey time. There is further concern that the current Kirklees Council plans to improve the A629 will only increase this pressure on the surrounding residential streets unless traffic management is put in place. There are calls from various quarters to have a plan that prioritises these streets as places to walk and cycle, rather than being ‘through routes’ for motor traffic.
KCC are among those who are proposing that motor traffic is managed carefully in these residential streets and that:
- A restricted number of roads and streets should be designated as link roads between the A629 and the A640, while all the others should be designed to be used as access for residents and their visitors. Modal filtering measures could help in achieving this.
- The area of the streets on either side of the A629 should become a designated 20mph zone.
When looking at cycle routes within this context it becomes apparent that we are in a small way proposing a change in our culture. A slight shift away from the decades since the 1970’s. A slight shift towards the thinking in The Netherlands. We know that there are a number of Kirklees councillors that would support measures to encourage more cycling but we suspect that there are a number of cabinet members and other councillors that have yet to be persuaded, so there is probably work to do.
We are proposing that the ‘Quiet Cycle routes should be:
- Suitable for a 12 year old who has been trained and has
successfully passed Bikeability level 2.
- That they should be continuous routes where the cyclist doesn’t have to resort to riding on the pavement or have to dismount in order to cross busy roads.
We do not pretend that our proposals will appeal to all existing cyclists, but we are hopeful that it will appeal to the majority.
We know that cyclists come in all levels of ability and tolerance. There will be some who will prefer to continue to ride along the A629 because they want the most direct route, even if they have to put up with heavy traffic and the occasional near miss. By contrast there will be others who will only ever ride their bike on Greenways and pedestrian pavements. Many of us are in somewhere in between these two states.
Our proposals would make for quieter residential streets that will encourage more cycling and walking and make the streets better places in which to live. Whilst the routes are not always in a perfectly straight line, they broadly follow the main trunk routes. Journey times might be a minute or two slower for a cyclist, but not much more than that. Many cyclists will ‘pick and mix’ – using some parts of a route and choosing their own route for the rest of the journey. To encourage more people to ride a bike, however, it is important for them to know that their route is free of hazards if they have the skills to ride on quiet roads.
These routes – if they were to materialise – would give even hardened cyclists the opportunity to use a less stressful route, and it would give those with less experience the opportunity to use a bike more often.
We are in a relatively early stage of talks with Kirklees Council but we hope that our proposals will be met with a positive response.
This is just a last minute reminder about our rescheduled AGM.
Please try to come if you can:
7pm Wednesday 5th September
‘The Sportsman’ St Johns Road Huddersfield