Wheels in motion for £30m cycle highway through Brighouse

Canal tow paths, park of a great cycling trail around Brighouse
Canal tow paths, park of a great cycling trail around Brighouse

Brighouse will become part of a £30.2 million cycle superhighway through Calderdale to boost employment and improve neighbourhood, it has been revealed.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority, in partnership with the five district councils and York, has submitted a funding application to the Department for Transport, which could result in a boost for cycle schemes in the Leeds City Region, with £22.1m coming from central government.

Canal tow paths, park of a great cycling trail around Brighouse

Canal tow paths, park of a great cycling trail around Brighouse

One of these schemes will see improvements along the towpaths of the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal in Brighouse to set up a link from Todmorden to Huddersfield.

The Government created the first round of Cycle City Ambition Grant funding in 2013, which West Yorkshire was successful in securing, and has led to the beginning of construction on the CityConnect Cycle Superhighway in Leeds and Bradford, alongside complementary work packages.

The new applications for a route through Brighouse will be complemented by a comprehensive behavioural change programme and improvements to neighbourhoods to make local streets safe and attractive for walking and cycling.

Chris Vokes from VS Cycles said it would be a superb idea for a cycle route and has noticed an upturn in the number of people coming in for bike repairs and maintenance.

“It’s not just the cycling bug people are getting it is the outdoor bug.

“A crossing bridge could be introduced by Lowfields Business park and you could find a lot more people cycling into work.

“The route is always being used by cyclists and if they could get the link all the way through it would be a fantastic idea.”

In the proposals, the report said: “The new cycle infrastructure in Huddersfield town centre will then be connected to the Strategic Employment Area of Cooper Bridge and on the Upper Calder Valley towpath to Todmorden through towns and communities such as Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Elland, and Brighouse.

“Due to the hilly topography in Leeds City Region, particularly in the districts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, our network of canal towpaths are a key connection for walking and cycling. It is also the location of a high proportion of the employment in those areas.”

The study also states that large parts of Brighouse, Halifax and Huddersfield are in the worst 20 per cent in the UK for health deprivation and upgrading the canal tow path will also provide access to green space, improving quality of life for the communities living along the route.

Councillor James Lewis, Chair of the WYCA transport committee, said: “High quality cycling infrastructure can play a valuable role in addressing the health and well-being of residents living in the most deprived areas of West Yorkshire.

“We are delighted to see CityConnect 1 taking shape and look forward to developing the network across the region with this new funding stream from Department for Transport.”

Members from Calderdale Council and cycling groups have also backed the cycle route plans.

Calderdale Council’s director of health Paul Butcher said: “I am delighted to offer my support for the Cycle City Ambition Grant. Public Health feel the grant would make a significant contribution to our improvement plans in Calderdale, and the Leeds City Region.

“It would enable us to complete cycling infrastructure improvements along the Rochdale Canal. This work will make a valuable contribution to the regeneration of our district and increase cycling as well as walking along this fantastic asset.”

Calderdale’s Cabinet member for the Economy and Environment, Coun Peter Caffery said: “We are supportive of work that improves infrastructure and enables people to make health choices regarding their mode of travel.

“This can have a very positive impact on access to employment, leisure and promoting a healthier lifestyle.”