2020 saw the publication from the Department for Transport (DFT) of “Gear Change” and Local Transport Notes 1/20. Both of these documents give specific guidance to Local Authorities on the minimum standards required for Cycling and Walking infrastructure. This will mean that councils that propose projects that do not meet the required standards will not receive Dft funding.
Cycling activists have long been complaining that schemes involving low standards are unacceptable. Now, at last, low standard infrastructure such as proposing the footways for cycling will not be funded by the Dft.
Despite the Covid restrictions of this past year KCC committee members have been very active making small steps towards a future whereby everyone can use a bike safely and easily as an everyday means of transport.
Early in 2020 Kirklees Council made the decision to raise the profile of Cycling and Walking and to make it a more fundamental part of its Transport planning and delivery.
It appointed a small specialist team of officers to focus solely on cycling and walking.
Approximately a year ago I was invited, from the head of this team, to discuss how stakeholders, such as KCC, might participate in the future planning and delivery of Cycling projects for Kirklees.
A proposal seemed to be agreed at our meetings that a broad range of local stakeholders be part of an Active Travel Forum that met regularly to discuss the progress of Active Travel in Kirklees. In addition to this group I stressed the need for a smaller group of stakeholders, elected from the Forum, to be part of a Kirklees Strategic Planning and Delivery group for Cycling and Walking. This would be complement the advisory panel structure at WYCA formally giving Kirklees stakeholders a role to participate with Kirklees Council in planning and presenting projects to WYCA for funding approval.
I regret to say, that one year on, the optimistic promises given out at these meetings have yet to be fulfilled. Whilst we have some occasional contact with officers, there has been no explanation from Kirklees officers as to why they have not even set up an Active Travel Forum.
We do have our suspicions that the team engaged in Active Travel is too small for the work-load that it is expected to do. If this is the case then we would urge our politicians to quickly address this issue.
I believe that regular dialogue between Kirklees Council and its stakeholders is essential if poor decisions are to be avoided early on in the planning stage. The example of Active Travel projects, such as the one at Waltham Forest, show that high quality Cycling and Walking projects cannot successfully be delivered without the input of stakeholders and using professional methods of consultation.
The KCC Committee:
The KCC committee is elected at each AGM and is usually made up of between five to ten people. The work of the committee, however, has not been for everyone, and our experience has been that, despite good intentions, the active numbers drop off to a small core who try to keep up with all the demands made upon them.
This has resulted in this small core of people being unable to effectively encompass the range of work that we feel KCC ought to be engaged in doing.
I do not pretend to have solutions to this problem, but until we have a few more active committee members we will struggle to be as effective as we could be.
Despite the situation above, the following is a selection of some of the activities performed by the KCC committee members:
- Participated regularly on the City Connect Advisory Group
- Made a public submission to Kirklees Scrutiny Committee
- Made detailed responses to Colne Valley and Bradley2Brighouse consultations
- Made detailed planning response to cycling and walking to Southern Gateways Project
- Made presentation to Kirkburton Parish Council promoting the Fenay Greenway project
- Produced various maps and proposals related to a proposed Kirklees Cycling Network
- Made a presentation to Greenpeace Transport event
- Responded to WYCA’s West Yorkshire Transport Connections document.
- Made a presentation of solutions to ‘missing link’ between Longroyd Bridge and Huddersfield Town Centre
- Presented a list of ‘Quick Wins’ (low-cost cycle infrastructure improvements) to Kirklees Council
- Regular liaison with Sustrans
- Liaising with other groups in Kirklees with whom we share interests.
- Maintaining a presence on Twitter and Facebook and publishing a regular newsletter giving information to supporters.
KCC committee has also continued to make contributions towards getting the following projects successfully realised:
- Fenay Greenway
- Meltham Greenway
- Bradley 2 Brighouse
- Huddersfield 2 Halifax Phase 4 Quietways
- Colne Valley Greenway – Milnsbridge 2 Slaithwaite
Kirklees Cycling Infrastructure:
What there is now and what is ‘in the pipeline’ with funding secured:
______Existing Cycle Infrastructure:
Huddersfield Narrow Canal: Chapel Hill to Milnsbridge
Bradley to Birkby Greenway
Calder Valley Greenway
Spen Valley Greenway
Dewsbury to Ossett
_______ Cycle Infrastructure ‘in the pipeline’:
Huddersfield Narrow Canal: Milnsbridge to Slaithwaite
Huddersfield Town Centre to Waterloo via A629 Wakefield Road
Huddersfield to Halifax Phase 4 (2 Quietways)
Calder Valley upgrade of route at Mirfield
Bradley to Brighouse
Huddersfield Town Centre and Dewsbury Town Centre: A variety of individual pieces of cycling infrastructure improving permeability for cycling.
On road protected cycle lanes crossing Huddersfield Ring Road into A62 Leeds Road.
Kirklees Cycling Infrastructure
The Next 5-10 years. Some of my suggestions:
_____ Existing Cycle Infrastructure _____ Cycle Infrastructure ‘in the pipeline’
________ Some suggestions for the next 5 to 10 years
to begin to build a Kirklees Cycling Network:
- Extending Meltham Greenway towards Lockwood
- Fenay Greenway: Waterloo to Kirkburton
- Fenay Greenway: Waterloo to Deighton
- Spen Valley Ringway
- Huddersfield: Trinity Street/Ring Road Crossing
- Huddersfield: Ring Road crossing via underpass to Queen Street South
- Missing Link: Longroyd Bridge to Huddersfield Town Centre
- Missing Link: Fitzwilliam Street to Red Doles Lane using upgraded canal towpath
- Birstall to Batley
- Heckmondwyke to Batley
- Heckmondwyke to Dewsbury
- Batley to Dewsbury
- Bradley to Liversedge
We have also identified a large number of individual sites throughout the borough where a small sum of money could radically improve the conditions for cycling. These have been called “Easy Wins” and, after being invited to do so, they were submitted to Kirklees Council. We are currently discussing them with officers. Hopefully they will be able to be implemented and be the subject of a future newsletter.
The West Yorkshire Connectivity Plan
Further possibilities on proposals for the Kirklees Cycling Network can also be found on the West Yorkshire Connectivity Plan. Many of these would involve significant re-allocation of road space. I have seen no hard evidence that Kirklees Council has the political will to re-allocate sufficient road space to allow uninterrupted protected cycling lanes along many of the listed arterial routes. I can only hope that, at some point, Kirklees Cabinet members will prove me wrong.
The Future of Active Travel in Kirklees:
A new structure within WYCA will soon be responsible for funding and administering Active Travel projects in West Yorkshire. It will take the place of City Connect and also embrace the other various transport projects that involve Cycling and Walking. Part of this structure will be an advisory and planning panel that will administer the projects submitted by the five regional authorities (Kirklees being one of these). Kirklees Cycling Campaign will have a representative on this new planning and advisory panel.
We have yet to see how the new mayor’s priorities for transport will impact on all of this.
In order for Kirklees Cycling Campaign to be truly successful in its objectives, it needs to increase the number of its registered supporters. This is area where I, personally, have not given enough time and attention. I would suggest that perhaps our organisation needs a committee member who can prioritise this important issue.
I know that there is a lot of support throughout Kirklees for the work that KCC is doing, but we need everyone to realise that many more people need to give us their email address and become registered supporters.
There is, at present, no subscription involved, but registered supporters receive the newsletter and be able to vote at meetings. Many of our supporters will, of course, be active cyclists. But I believe that they could also come from a wider range of people.
For example, I would like to see supporters from:
- those that would like to be able to ride a bike, but present road conditions prevent them from doing so.
- Those parents who would like to feel that their child was safe riding a bike to school.
- Local people who would like their residential street to be a quiet one with more cycling and walking rather than it being used by fast through traffic.
- Individuals and members of groups where we have a common interest. e.g. people concerned about climate change, green groups and local community groups.
There is no obligation for supporters to have to devote time working for KCC, but we do need them to indicate that they support what we are doing by being a registered supporter. All this means is giving us permission to send them emails.
Building up our supporter numbers will make us stronger. It would be good to think that over the next year we might be able to make a start at increasing our supporter numbers, and that it will not be too long before we have 1,000 or more registered supporters.
A Final Word
As indicated in last year’s Chair’s Report, I will be stepping down after some years as chair of KCC and I want to thank the many people who have given me their support in all kinds of ways. Most deserving of my thanks are the other active members of the committee, both past and present. This year, in particular, a small core has worked particularly well as a team. We do not all have equal ability, but each active committee member has used their strengths to support the weaknesses of others such as myself. Thank you for this.
KCC Chair 06052021