Kirklees cyclists, ramblers and walkers want a comprehensive Kirklees network plan for walking and cycling, particularly to ensure new developments are required (by planning conditions) to contribute to their implementation.
Sixty attendees from all over Kirklees attended the ‘Improving Local Walking and Cycling Networks’ conference in Huddersfield on Saturday, 5th November 2022. They also agreed that more coordinated advocacy of active travel, bringing together stronger informed voices speaking up for walking and cycling, was essential to secure better, safer facilities.
There was overwhelming support for a better, joined up active travel infrastructure. Significant improvements could be achieved by more support for third sector organisations delivering low-cost practical projects including path creation, maintenance and way marking, as demonstrated by Wakefield Council.
Participants heard from a range of speakers about the benefits to health and wellbeing of developing a stronger active travel programme – and its importance to sustainable transport in reducing harmful emissions and reducing car dependency.
Leah Stuart (Huddersfield Unlimited Transport Group) showed the importance of getting young children into the habit of walking and cycling to school. Her data maps demonstrated that a significant proportion of people employed in Huddersfield town centre live within 2 miles of their work. They could be encouraged to leave the car at home if cycling and walking networks were upgraded and made safer. Finally, the economic benefits of removing traffic – and improving the streetscape for active travel – is evident from reduced shopfront vacancies and increased spending.
Case studies were presented about developing more traffic free routes, such as the Meltham Greenway. It is only slowly taking shape, linking to Netherton to Meltham, despite its potential to absorb traffic flows from large housing growth built or planned in Meltham and Netherton. But after two decades it’s a long way off being built through to the town centre.
To achieve higher levels of uptake the perceived safety of cycling will need to be tackled – with better street and junction design and connected networks. Concerns were also raised by urban walkers about mixing pedestrians and bicycles which in some high traffic areas is unavoidable but requires imaginative design to establish separation. The issue of the accessibility of footpaths arising from the use of stiles rather than gates was shown to deter older and less mobile walkers. A similar issue of in accessibility some designated cycle paths for non-standard bikes (e.g. adapted bikes, cargo bikes) was also highlighted.
Please find PDFs of the presentations made at the event here.