A629 Wakefield Road Cycling & Walking Plans

A629 Wakefield Road is the major route connecting Huddersfield to its environs with the most potential for increased active travel, particularly if better onward links to other destinations are added.

KCC strongly favours investment in this route to boost active travel. Please complete the survey https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/a629
If you have time you may want to write a reasoned case about the options proposed. Deadline is Tuesday 30th November.

To increase adoption of cycling, it is essential to make it easier than driving. Infrastructure that does that will always be used.

Two-way option
Adoption of the 2-way lanes is possible and has some advantages over single dedicated lanes. We are concerned about the design of connections required at both ends of the route (at Shorehead and Waterloo junction).

A regular everyday cyclist who has commuted daily on this route for over a year from beyond Shepley says:
“They (two-way cycle routes) are, in my long experience of cycling around the Netherlands, always more difficult to use in practice, even for seasoned users of infrastructure, and always involve less direct access and crossings of busy roads, which is never a preferred option. There are a lot of these in Den Haag, although they tend to have 2-way lanes on both sides in busier areas like that.” 

The two-way option reduces ease of use compared with one-way routes. Firstly, cyclists travelling the whole route will need to wait to cross the main road to access the two-way lanes at Waterloo from Penistone Road and at Shorehead.

People using the routes will need to be able to start and finish their journey on the bicycle with minimal or no interruption. By reducing the benefits of using the routes will undermine confidence in it and the reduce its perceived viability.

Secondly, people accessing or leaving the route from various intermediate points will need to use a crossing and sometimes will need to double back to a linking route.

There are some advantages of two-way routes. These include creating a continuous route on one side of A629 only with enhanced awareness of local residents and pedestrians who will utilise an adjacent dedicated footway. Cyclists using a two-way route that is busy in one direction will use the contraflow route for overtaking slower moving cyclists. They will avoid the bus lanes on the south side.

One Way Option
The most efficient and quickest option for a cyclist with minimal disruption to progress is the one-way dedicated route. However, the plan does not achieve continuous unbroken lanes.

It is important that the lanes are designed to be continuous across all junctions. By adopting markings and colour that is unbroken from end to end. This emphasises the priority over cars of the cycle lane, and we believe this is highly desirable. By stopping cyclists at all major junctions and side street entrances detracts from the utility of the routes.

Continuous lanes are instrumental, both in improving driver awareness of cyclists and their rights of way at side junctions. It is also important in increasing the confidence of new cyclists using the facility.

Broken lanes cause anxiety among users that they will be abandoned into traffic and are inherently dangerous. It is possible to avoid confusion in the mind of motorists by establishing a protocol of priority for cyclists as we already have on well-designed pedestrian crossings.

End of route
At each end of the route there is currently a lack of detail. At present the one-way routes do not demonstrate connectivity to the university, the town centre at Shorehead. We understand that Kirklees Council has developed separate detailed plans as part of the Southern Corridors project. Both route options (one-way or two-way) need be joined up to the town centre or they will have reduced effectiveness.

Eastbound routes should start along Southgate and link to the town centre. A segregated lane constructed along the southbound portion of the Southgate footway to the entrance to Sainsbury’s car park would avoid disruption to the flow rather than forcing cyclists to wait, for a gap in traffic entering or leaving the retail car park. 

At Waterloo, we understand Kirklees Council is also developing plans for improvements to the junction with Penistone Road to allow the route to continue to Fenay Bridge on the eastern periphery of this scheme. We believe it is important to show a commitment to improved cycling and walking routes that link to Fenay Bridge and to Waterloo.

We are concerned there is a perceived lack of commitment to the Fenay Greenway, given the significant consultancy work undertaken in the past. We believe it is important in the context of this plan to demonstrate its future viability as a route that links residential and employment areas in Kirkburton Parish Council’s area. The proposed Fenay Greenway uses, in part, a former railway route to improve connections to Highburton, Kirkburton and beyond. There is considerable planned housing development close to this proposed greenway.

Unless the option to cycle is demonstrably easier than driving, the car will remain the preferred option. There are a too many micro-obstacles in the form of flow disruptions in the proposals which, when compounded, form a large a disincentive to making cycling the default choice. Similarly, improved air quality and safer footways will improve the attractiveness of walking to amenities and as part of a journeys that uses public transport.

The biggest employment locations in Huddersfield are in the town centre, including the University of Huddersfield which is at one end of the route, which has considerable scope for modal shift for employment journeys. There are a lot of other ‘everyday’ cycling activities that this route would accommodate if improved and made safer. Families need to be able to cycle together – these routes are not just about lone cyclists.

The full submission is here