Meeting with Kirklees Officers:
On 19th June we finally got our meeting with Kirklees Officers. Our suspicion is that this was helped by The Huddersfield Examiner’s article about the length of time we were waiting for a reply to our request. So thank you to “The Examiner”.
The reason for the request was to present the KCC network maps and to begin to discuss a future strategic plan for cycling in Kirklees. Both Highways and Public Health were represented. We argued that little was currently being done to encourage an increase in numbers of people cycling in Kirklees. It currently has one of the lowest number of commuter cyclists in the UK.
If the situation is to change there needed be more finance and space for cycling. New cyclists need to feel that they can ride safely on local roads.
The officers seemed surprised when we said that we expected finance for projects to be made available from the West Yorkshire Transport Fund. This involves an economic case being made to the DFT to access the fund. Kirklees Highways seemed to consider that the economic case was reserved for motor vehicles and thought that it would be difficult to make an economic case for cycling.
As a result of this discussion KCC committee members are currently engaged in researching material that makes the economic case for cycling, of which there is quite a lot, including material from the DFT itself. When we have gathered it all together we will present it to the council.
It has to be said in passing, however, that we are disappointed that Kirklees has not done this already without our assistance. That said the meeting was a positive one and KCC were asked to identify 3 priority projects from the network plans and a meeting to discuss these was pencilled in for September.
Updated Maps on KCC website
If you’ve got a moment have a look at the updated versions of the two current Network Maps – one Kirklees wide and one detailing Huddersfield town centre. They are in the ‘Update’ section of the website at he moment.
I hope that you’ll agree that they are a lot clearer and easier to read. They are not ‘set in stone’, and from time to time will need further modifications. They do, however, represent a base line for discussion and making plans for the future. We hope that they will be the basis on which the future Local Cycling and Walking Plan (CWIP) will be structured.
Huddersfield Town Centre Bus Gates
After the significant petition against the Bus Gates the local politicians seemed to be feeling vulnerable. Kirklees Officers are currently being exercised by making detailed assessments of the effect of the Huddersfield Town Centre Bus Gates. Amongst the various assessments will be a measure of air quality and the loss of trade – or otherwise – of local retail outlets.
A stop has been made to any development plans involving the town centre and City Connect 2 cycling plans have got caught up in this. This is why City Connect consultation took place for the upgrading of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal but there was no similar consultation on the Huddersfield Town Centre plans, as it is at present ‘under wraps’.
Consultation on the Council’s Cycling and Walking Strategy is also being held up by the Bus Gates monitoring though we have yet to understand why this should be so.
City Connect Huddersfield Town Centre
The time period for City Connect projects are drawing to a close and most of the other regions in West Yorkshire and York have costed their plans and are ready for construction. This is the point when hard decisions have to be made, as enough finance is unlikely to be available for everything, and cuts will have to be made somewhere.
It will come as no surprise that Kirklees proposals for Huddersfield Town Centre are looking extremely vulnerable.
Those who were present at the Friends of City Connect meeting at Kirklees College nearly two years ago will remember WYCA personnel spelling out that the plans were considered not of a sufficient standard to merit CC funding. The response to this from Kirklees was a dogged defence and there was no attempt to revise the plans.
It does not bode well.
Champions in local Clubs – A Request
Local cycling clubs exist principally to socialise on bikes by participating competively or having leisure rides. Many are very strong in numbers and active in participating in a variety of activities involving cycling. Their members are – by and large – not particularly interested in spending time campaigning for more space for cycling.
By contrast, at the Bradford Conference last month Jonny Clay, Director of Cycling at British Cycling was at pains to say that British Cycling was committed to working with other cycling organisations, such as Sustrans and Cycling UK, to pressure the government and local authorities to make our roads more cycle-friendly. Chris Boardman, of course, has been very vocal about this issue on behalf of British Cycling and the Olympic cycling stars have also done their bit.
The Kirklees Cycling campaign is looking to establish links with local clubs in Kirklees. We believe that the campaign will be stronger if it has their support and input, and we would like to find one or more persons in each club to be a Champion for the kind of things that Jonny Clay was talking about. There is no obligation to spend a lot of time and energy away from the normal club activities. All a champion need be is a point of contact with KCC and a receiver of the Monthly Newsletter. If they can disseminate the information and encourage others to go to the website and sign up for the free newsletter then that’s even better.
If you are a club member who supports what KCC is doing or knows someone who might be willing to liaise with us please let us know. Contact details are on the website.
Spread the Word
Finally, another plea to spread the word that we exist. Please tell your friends and acquaintances about Kirklees Cycling Campaign and encourage them to go to the website to sign up for the free monthly newsletter.