Cycle Routes for Huddersfield Town Centre
Anyone who has ever tried to cycle through Huddersfield Town Centre will be aware that it is not very cycle friendly. Not only does the cyclist have to find a way to cross the Ring Road to enter the town, but once inside, a plethora of one-way or pedestrianised streets with No Entry signs frequently prevents the cyclist from making simple point to point journeys.
This is a great pity because it could be a place where commuting or shopping with a bike could be a better alternative, for many, than using the car or public transport. It could also be the natural route through which one travelled when journeying from locations on either side of the town centre. At present most cyclists use routes by-passing it.
A combination of some astute traffic management and the making it easier to cross the ring road would do much to transform the town centre for cyclists.
Just one example, of something that could be done, is to allow cyclists to contraflow against one-way traffic; A great many European towns allow this; often without the need for special contraflow lanes.
Because of the current difficulties a great many local cyclists don’t realise that it can STILL be advantageous to use a bike to travel through the town centre. It a matter of get-ting to know what is, and is not, possible. This is a major reason for the describing the routes in detail.
The HUDDERSFIELD CYCLE MAP has nine routes that criss-cross the town centre. They don’t include every road that a cyclist can use but they provide a network for indi-viduals to tap into from their own personal routes from further afield.
Each route is colour coded on the map, and there are interchange points along each route which will hopefully enable cyclists to begin to make up their own town centre routes.
There are descriptions of each route, together with any problems that are likely to be en-countered and how they might be overcome (both now and in the longer term).
Practically every route has imperfections but most also have some kind of immediate so-lution. (Albeit that, at times, there is a degree of anarchy in overcoming some of the cur-rent problems).
Not all routes will suit all cyclists, some will prefer to stick to obvious main routes while others will be happy using a ‘snicket’ or a ‘cut-through’.
In general cycling on footways is proposed only when really necessary and always for only very short stretches. When riding on footways it’s important to have the mindset that pedestrians always have priority. In time, and with continual pressure and lobbying, it is hoped that cyclists will have better options, and cycling on footways will be a thing of the past.
FINALLY: It is NOT recommended to try to understand the route descriptions all ‘in one go’. If one makes a print of the Map one can use it in combination with the ‘route de-scriptions’ at anytime when they might be useful.
This route has two ways of getting to Birkby:
1. via John William St and St Johns Rd
2. by climbing up Fitzwilliam St to Besançon Bridge and going off-road through Highfields and past Edgerton Cemetery to Blacker Road.
If you don’t mind crossing the ring road there are also number of alternative routes to Highfelds from the Cambridge Rd car park.
(i) crossing Ring Road at St Johns Road; particularly on inbound where it is sometimes difficult to get in front of the traffic queues without resorting to mounting the footway to do so.
(ii) Accessing the footbridge over ring road slip road to Highfields has to be done by illegally rid-ing on Besançon Bridge footway. Great care is also required in crossing Fitzwilliam St at Brook St to access the footway. Oncoming traffic rarely signal that they are going to enter Fitzwilliam St.
This route uses Northumberland St, crosses the Ring Road to A62 Leeds Rd which heads out to-wards Cooper Bridge. Just past the Northern Retail Park there is an access point to the Broad Ca-nal Towpath if you prefer not to continue along Leeds Road. The Towpath route connects with NCN69 at Red Doles Lane or, if you wish to remain on it, will eventually get you to Cooper Bridge.
Currently the inbound Leeds Rd/Ring Road crossing is very hazardous if one doesn’t use the pe-destrian crossing. The canal towpath is unsurfaced and on the inbound route there is a need to re-solve the issue of how to cross A62 Leeds Rd.
Cycle lanes throughout the length of Leeds Rd disappear from time to time and traffic on can sometimes be heavy on restricted sections.
BUT The current plans for Leeds Road will hopefully eliminate/minimise many of the current dif-ficulties.
Where possible, this uses the Canal Towpaths of the Huddersfield Narrow and the Huddersfield Broad. Where not, Firth St and Colne Rd are used. Some cyclists will prefer to use parts of St An-drews Road and Firth Street which are very close to this route.
There are two major impassable points
1. At Apsley Marina and
2. Where the Huddersfield Narrow Canal goes into a towpathless tunnel under Bates Mill be-tween Queen St South and Chapel Hill.
This means that one has to decide
1. How to cross Wakefield Road: i.e on the carriageway with the other traffic, or using awkward pedestrian crossings, and
2. Where to come off the canal (if one is still on it) and join Firth St.
There is also an unfriendly one-way system to negotiate at the bottom of Queen St South.
Kirklees Highways have got signs along Colne Road indicating shared-use cycling along the foot-way. It has been pointed out (though fallen on deaf ears) that to use this ‘facility’ could be danger-ous when riding at a speed greater than 5mph. because there are many HGV exiting points that are ‘blind’ along this stretch.
Therefore, It is usually safer and more convenient to use the existing carriageway.
There is also some very peculiar and confusing “cycling infrastructure” at the southern end of Queen St South. Although intended to be helpful, it was installed without any consultation.
Much of the problem in this area arises from Kirklees wanting to spend only minimum finance on the cycling infrastructure as well as not wanting to seem to inconvenience motor traffic.
There is also a need to devise some helpful cyclists’ routes in this area around the zebra crossings and footbridge.
This is a direct east-west route through the town and uses the ‘heritage’ Turnbrige to access St Andrews Road.
Wakefield Road can be easily reached directly on the outward route by using the Ring Road near Sainsburys, but on the inbound ,the Turnbridge route allows one to avoid negotiating the Shore-head roundabout.
Generally speaking the Kirkgate Eastbound is straightforward until Beastgate where there is no obvious direct access to the Ring Road. Here (currently) a little bit of anarchy is required by rid-ing onto the triangular traffic island and then continuing down Kirkgate to the Ring Road and turning right.
The Westbound route from Wakefield Rd is ok via St Andrews Rd or the canal towpath as far as Turnbridge. Beyond this there are a number of points to negotiate:
1. Coming onto to Ring Road footway from Old Leeds Rd there are “cyclist dismount” signs.
2. The controlled Ring Road crossing is not a toucan and the footway nearby is not signed as shared-use (why not? given that it’s a signed cycle route)
3. The Beast Market traffic lights have to be ignored and the traffic island at the top of Beast Mar-ket has to be mounted to reach Kirkgate.
4. Kirkgate is the main route for most of the buses arriving or going through the town. At busy times this causes problems for cyclists at traffic lights – particularly at the junction of Henry St where one or two buses wait for some time to regulate timetables and many others are aiming to turn left to access the bus station. There is often no obvious place for a cyclist to safely position themselves at the lights, and they are subject to breathing into their lungs copious amounts of die-sel fumes.
This is the one for destinations to the south of the town. It also makes a good link to the university campus.
At the moment it only works as a one-way route inbound because Cross Church St is northbound only. It is possible to ride with caution southbound but usually not without some ‘helpful’ person telling you that you’re riding in the wrong direction on a one-way street. At present the only other alternatives for the southbound route are to:
(a) Ride along Oldgate and the Ring Road pavement from the bottom of Kirkgate
(b) Use Route 6 past the Bus Station and then follow Route 7 eastbound.
(c) Illegally use one of the pedestrianised routes such as New St to link to Route 7.
2. Byram St, for the most part, is one-way northbound so this is fine on the inbound if one rides to Northumberland St and then ignore the no left sign to reach the station.
Coming from the station it’s more convenient to go via John William St, turn left at St Peter’s St (past Cafe Evolution) and then right into Byram St to Kirkgate.
3. Ring Road Crossings: There’s a lot of work to be done on the crossing points be-fore they can be said to be satisfactory. Here are the main options:
(a) Use the signed route out of Queen St (making sure to turn early before the dodgy right turn box with cycle markings) to the cycle lane leading to the Toucan crossing. This is a very frustrating and laborious one for cyclists – a crossing in two phases and with a very tight space on the centre refuge.
(b) Use the Market St car park (there’s an pedestrian entrance near the toucan crossing) and use the car route under the ring road to Queen St South.
(c) Use the crossing point outside of the university main entrance from Zetland St. Traffic is signed to go right or left but if you position yourself sensibly you can safely reach the University and continue your journey from there.
The crossing from the university take a little more thought. It’s best if you head straight for Zetland St rather than use the pedestrian crossing which get very crowded with staff and students. One has to use the signal when the pedestrians have the green but ride a line parallel to the actual crossing so as not to get tangled up with the students. One cannot ride across without a pause at the moment because the crossing is in two phases. One has to wait for two or three seconds in the middle of the ring road (pro-tected by the refuge) before getting the green to continue to Zetland St.
This route makes a fairly direct beeline from the canal towpath at Longroyd Bridge and up Out-cote Bank to the Ring Road where – at the moment – it crosses at the underpass near the leisure centre. There is, however, potential to improve this. It then takes a direct line down Market St to the station.
The route is part of an important spine running through the town centre that links up with Route 2 and thus connects the two Greenways to the north and south of the town.
PROBLEMS: at present there are a great many.
The major one. Currently this route can only be cycled northbound!
Required northbound improvements:
To make it a route that ALL cyclists can use. A big improvement would be to have a small bridge over the canal. This would ideally be sited at the bottom of Outcote Bank by the new student hous-ing. It would then by-pass the road route at Longroyd Bridge and Manchester Rd.
Other improvements required would be protected cycle lanes on Outcote Bank and an improved ring road crossing.
The current traffic management on either side of the ring road make it totally unrealistic for a cy-clist to retrace the northbound route in the opposite direction. An entirely unsatisfactory situation. The route map shows a suggested southbound route that gives access to the canal towpath at Chapel Hill. This involves using the outward route via Station St, Half Moon St and past the bus station. It finishes up using the ring road traffic lights to turn right into Chapel Hill; something that not all cyclists will be happy to do. There are other alternatives but none of them satisfactory. Until this problem is tackled seriously it’s a case of individuals trying different routes and choos-ing the one that best suits.
In the next few years it is imperative that Kirklees Council can be convinced that it is important enough to finance and construct a viable southbound route. Without this, the developing off-road canal route up the Colne Valley to Marsden is isolated and without a connection from Hudders-field Town Centre.
Starting at the University Campus the route uses the car park underpass at Queensgate.
At the present time one has to choose as to whether to use the steps, used by pedestrians, to carry the bike up to Alfred St or to use the route cars take to exit further along Alfred St. The one-way system around the town hall is then taken, and after that, a left turn takes one along the contraflow cycle lane up High St to the Leisure Centre underpass.
On the west side of the underpass one needs to head across the Springwood car park for Back Cec-il Street. A left turn from here into Park Avenue leads one to Greenhead Park.
On the inbound route many cyclists will prefer to avoid the underpass by using Merton St and crossing the ring road ‘at grade’. This is not a difficult crossing – it is downhill – but some Ad-vanced Stop Lines would be helpful.
1. A decent entrance to and an exit from the Queensgate car park are required. We are being told that the car park will shortly be coming to the end of it’s life and the site will be due for redevelopment. It is imperative that the route under the ring road is maintained and de-veloped as a cycle route.
2. The underpass at the Leisure Centre has a number of blind turnings and is not ideal as a shared route. It works at the moment because it is not heavily used. Were cycling numbers to increase significantly there could be a need to make a better route.
3. After exiting the underpass and entering Springwood car park a clear direct route with dropped curbs needs to be constructed. There is a need for further dropped curbs between Water St and Rifle Fields. These inexpensive measures would transform this route.
4. A few dropped curbs are necessary to make for easier cycling on the University Campus.
This important entry to and exit from the town is fraught with difficulty for the cyclist.
On turning right when exiting the station one initially contraflows past the Head of Steam and then up St Georges St. Arriving at Kirkgate a decision has to be made. Ideally one would go straight across through the gap in the middle of the road, and position oneself at the traffic lights ready to cross into Trinity St. However, there are frequently difficulties for the cyclist who choos-es to do this. (See notes on Route 4)
There are often one or two buses parked here for some time which makes space difficult for traffic that needs to negotiate the lights. This is a main route for buses coming though the town and en-tering the bus station, and the cyclist has no clear place in which to wait to avoid the left turning traffic and traffic heading straight for the ring road.
Given given these difficulties some cyclists dismount and cross on one the pedestrian crossings to reach Trinity St, whilst others turn right at the top of St Georges St onto the footway and ride to the traffic lights on New North Parade. These lights give the cyclist just about enough time to safely get up to the ring road before the Kirkgate traffic gets their ‘green’. The only safe place to wait at the ring road traffic lights is to be on the inside lane in front of all traffic.
Once over the lights at the ring road there is the option to turn left into Greenhead Rd. Those pre-ferring to carry straight on on this uphill section are
(a) vulnerable to ‘right hooks’ from traffic turning into Greenhead Rd and
(b) lulled into a sense of false security by the cycle lane that goes past the restaurants and take-aways. Most of the cycle lane is usually occupied by parked vehicles which can come and go unexpectedly.
The inbound route is much easier but the cycle lane leading to the ASL is minimum width, and sometimes wide vehicles make it dangerous for cyclists to attempt to reach the front of the queue.
There has long been a need to have a safe and efficient crossing of the ring road for cyclists using Trinity Street.
This is essentially a short direct link route for cyclists who prefer to use the pedestrian crossing at Shorehead roundabout rather than using route 4. It uses the wide Ring Road footway and the quiet Oldgate.
The 2 phase crossing which is a pedestrian and not a toucan. If coming from Oldgate there are further frustrating crossings to get on to the left hand side of Wakefield Rd.