‘Make the town feel like a cycle centric place to cycle’
Huddersfield Cycling Survey results & Huddersfield Friends of the Earth response
Yesterday the government released a Cycling Delivery Plan, which sets out how it intends to transform Britain into a cycling nation. However, the plan was criticised during a debate in Parliament for lacking both ambition and dedicated funding, with MPs from both sides of the chamber agreeing that only a commitment to dedicated investment in cycling would deliver an increase in the number of journeys made by bike that is needed to make Britain a healthier and cleaner nation.
Huddersfield Friends of the Earth recently undertook an online survey to discover what would make cycling in the Huddersfield area easier, safer, more family-friendly.. The survey, which took place between June – September 2014, had 120 responses, mainly from active cyclists in the area.
Interestingly, respondents were predominantly involved in cycling as a leisure/ sport activity (78% of respondents) rather than for commuting or utility journeys (50% of respondents). The survey showed that the key barrier for active cyclists were concerns about traffic safety, while lack of cycle parking facilities was also seen as a deterrent.
Improvements suggested by survey respondents included:
• More and better off road routes
• Improved cycle paths and safety features on roads
• Better cycle parking facilities in town/ workplaces/ schools
• Educating motorists about safe driving near cyclists
• Improving road surfaces
• Preventing parking in cycle lanes
Suggested improvements included developing coherent cycle routes through Huddersfield town centre.The current cross town route is effectively only one way and there is no signed north to south route. Difficulties of getting across the ring road were also highlighted. There was enthusiasm for greenways in Kirkburton, Fenay, Meltham and Colne Valley, as well as linking up existing greenways
The survey also flagged up a need for improvements in safety of routes including:
· Lockwood/ Chapel Hill
· Manchester Rd
· Meltham to Huddersfield
· Huddersfield to Brighouse
· Holmfirth to Huddersfield
· Lockwood to Honley
· Penistone Rd
· Woodhead Rd
· Church Lane, Mirfield
· Bradford Rd
· Leeds Rd
· Balderstone Rd
· New Hey Rd
Chayley Collis, Coordinator of Huddersfield Friends of the Earth commented:
“Making cycling in Huddersfield easier, safer and more family-friendly is a clearly a big task. We strongly support cycling campaigners’ demands for long term consistent funding for cycling from national government– at least £10 per head – delivered through existing government funding arrangements, combined with support and training for Local Authorities. We appreciate that without adequate national government investment Kirklees Council is working with limited funds and so cannot achieve radical improvements overnight. We welcome the Council’s new Cycling Consultation Group and plans to develop a cycling strategy. We would like to support the council and other cycling groups to help develop and shape that strategy. Improving cycling infrastructure in Kirklees and supporting cycling as a mode of transport as well as a sport, should be a key legacy of Le Tour. In the words of one survey respondent, we need to ‘Make the town feel like a cycle centric place to cycle’ “
Huddersfield Friends of the Earth has developed some suggestions in response to the survey and as a contribution towards Kirklees’ cycling strategy:
• There should be effective consultation so that cyclists are able to input on all new highway-related developments so that needs of cyclists are considered within plans (eg when planning access to new Kirklees College, Sports Centre, changes to ring road)
• There needs to be some way for cyclists to tell highways about existing problem areas – either through meetings with highways or through an interactive online maps (such as used in City Connect project in Leeds/Bradford, see: http://www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/participate.php)
• When prioritising areas of work, Kirklees Council should look at routes and signage in town centre as a ‘quick win’ first start and as a signal that Huddersfield is a cycle-friendly town.
The full data from the survey is being shared with Kirklees Council cycling & highways officers.