Kirklees Council has recently launched the 2nd stage of consultations on the Dewsbury-Batley-Chidswell corridor. This corridor aims to enable more cycling and walking from Dewsbury ring road to Batley Railway Station along Bradford Road and then up to Chidswell via Challenge Way and Grange Road.
It also includes improvements for walking and buses on Soothill Lane. The first round of consultations was done around 12 months ago and this is open for comments up until 20th October 2022 at https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/dbctravel2.
There has been a consolidation of options in the revised plans (with some disappointments but some positive changes) and Chris Knight will try to explain them here.
Dewsbury to Batley
The previous designs show no direct link from Dewsbury Ring Road to the main stretch of Bradford Road. Instead they proposed using Commercial Road to link into the Bus Lane and cycle lanes from the Halifax Road plans. We opposed this idea as it would require people on bicycles to go extra distance and include more effort with the steep gradient on Commercial Road.
The new design instead uses the widened footways past Lidl as shared use to feed into the Dewsbury Town Centre improvements at the Ring Road and into separated cycle tracks that start near the Commercial Road junction. This is an improvement on the previous designs as it provides cycle access to Lidl and the main college entrance. The shared use path is still less than ideal at a location that we hope would see a lot of walking and wheeling traffic, especially around college start and finish times, with pedestrian refuge islands used instead of formal crossings as to maintain protection for the right turn box into Lidl.
Further along Bradford Road the original proposal included a new Greenway style route joining Bradford Road at Saville Street and running behind the warehouses. This has been dropped for the new consultation due to difficulties with land acquisition in preference of keeping the main road option.
The Greenway was to continue along Saville Street with separated cycle lanes by crossing Jack Lane and shared use paths on Bradford Road and junction improvements at this location.
The share use paths have now been dropped, along with all roadside cycle tracks north of Jack Lane and more details on the junction improvements are now shown. The right turning cycle traffic from Bradford Road to Jack lane expected to be on it’s own phase at the traffic
lights. There are more details about the actual junction layout that are yet to come out but what we see here isn’t anything like the final product. Traffic light phasing is also being negotiated with the traffic control team. A half CYCLOPS was mooted at one point in the design concepts but was dropped in favour of this right turn cycle phase.
The separated cycle tracks on Saville Street have been removed. This street is frequently used by businesses for parking vans who would’ve lost that ability so parking bays have been provided and the road now included cycle symbols (sharrows in an American context) which don’t provide any safety but make drivers aware of the possibility of seeing bicycle riders. As this is a dead end road the traffic volumes should remain low.
There is now detail on how the greenway along the old railway line between Savile Street and Mill Lane would look. It has some means of restricting vehicular access, though no detail of this has been provided. The greenway is suggested to be constructed at the 3m minimum width with bays for maintenance vehicles to park. There also is no access to the bridge that links this route with Starbucks and the gym, both being popular destinations of people riding bicycles, though conversations are being had with the landowners who seem keen and this option might be added at a later date. In the meantime, to access these location people on bicycles are expected to use Bradford Road without any cycle infrastructure. It is suggested that lighting and CCTV will be used to try and combat the lack of natural surveillance.
Alexandra Road improvements have also been removed from the new consultation. This is a one way street used by large vehicles. There is already proof of vehicles driving over the kerbs on the corner. Tightening this road with cycle tracks was deemed to mean more overrunning of kerbs which would reduce safety of bicycles and cause more damage.
Cycle tracks on Mill Lane and Alexandra Road would meet up with shared use route on Rouse Mill Lane and Grange Road with a shared path running up Back Station Road to new cycle parking at Batley Rail Station.
The current consultation has removed the cycle tracks on Mill lane in preference of share use paths all around the roundabout with informal crossing points. All shared use paths on Rouse Mill Lane have been removed, along with all routes to Batley Town Centre. Though we are expecting some new cycle facilities in the Streets for People scheme being designed for Batley it is likely that all links from the town centre to the rail station have been dropped due to conflict with parking outside business on this stretch of road and design complications around the Hick Lane junction. There remains, at this point, no safe route being proposed between Birstall and Batley Rail Station.
The shared use path up Back Station Road has been shortened with an informal crossing at the bottom of the ginnel. This route would be too narrow and rough for many people on a bicycle. People cycling between Back Station Road and Grange road are expected to make multiple crossings with many being far removed from the desire lines.
Batley to Chidswell
Back to the first consultation and Grange Road which showed a shared use path running along the northern side of the road from the railway and crossing onto the south to avoid mature trees and parking bays. The shared path then crossed back to the north side of the road before the roundabout at Mill Forest Way. We responded to this saying that multiple road crossings would cause more delays for people on bicycles without any priority being given and would make the route unattractive.
The new designs show the shared footway staying on the south side of the road from the multiple crossing points and the Rouse Mill Lane junction and then crossing before the Mill Forest Way roundabout.
There is still no indication of priority for active travel at these crossings.
The roundabout at Mill Forest Way original showed the new shared use path cutting around close to the roundabout with the current traffic island being removed. There is currently a Jug Handle to turn bicycle before this junction through it is overgrown and not at all maintained
On the new plans the traffic island remains and the crossing point has been removed from the desire line with no suggestion of a jug handle to make it easier for people on cycles to see traffic coming, though I have been informed that the detailed plans do include jug handle turns but are reliant on land acquisition. Again this crossing is informal, without any priority for people crossing on cycles or by foot.
More detail has been provided on the upgrade to Grange Road include vehicular access restrictions.
Grange Road is marked on OS Maps as a Byway Open to All Traffic. I’m curious as to the legality of the current measures used to stop traffic using this route as well as the proposed restrictions and what they are.
We’ve now got plans for the proposed new crossing facility with traffic lights from the original consultation:
It’s not entirely clear what’s actually being done. The red tactile paving indicates that it will be a formal, controlled crossing but there are no road markings to indicate either a zebra or traffic lights. The offset crossings are used to stop people walking, or cycling, straight across both carriageways without checking the traffic on the far side of the road and may be accompanied with pedestrian guard rail to pen people in. Disappointingly the shared use path doesn’t continue on the east side of Leeds road in this consultation and therefore doesn’t link up with the new Chidswell housing developments currently in construction. That missing link has been through some design stages but has been dropped to reduce cost and may be brought back at a later date.
There are no cycling facilities provided on Soothill Lane. Here changes are to improve the walking experience and bus stops.
The first consultation proposed widened footways and removal of parking near the bottom of Soothill Lane with a new crossing provided near Grove House Surgery.
In the new consultation we see that the pedestrian crossing is an informal one and is still off the desire line for people walking between Batley and the rail station. As consultation responses included concern about resident parking and people using the surgery some parking as been retained but has now been formalised into parking bays with the widened footways around it. It doesn’t look like anything has been done to temper the concerns with vehicles using the cobbled section of Station Road to avoid queuing traffic on Rouse Mill Lane and adding to the tailbacks on Soothill Lane.
The extension to the bridge over the railway is still on the cards at this point but with nothing to suggest making the wide junction of Upper Station Road any easier to cross for pedestrians. The new crossing at Lady Ann Road has also been upgraded to a traffic light controlled crossing point. A new controlled crossing is also being proposed for near the junction of Manor Farm Drive.
Finally the top of Soothill Lane is an area with a 30mph speed limit, a wide carriageway, and frequent high speeds. Originally the proposals were to provide some kind of traffic calming.
It appears from the new consultation documents that the traffic calming idea has been scrapped in the hope that a Speed Indicator Device (SIDs) will be enough to slow down those people who intentionally drive beyond the speed limit.
Cycle Kirklees will be writing a full response to these consultations and we’ll post these online for you to view. Please get in touch if you want to add your thoughts.