CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
An online talk last night to HCS members and supporters on a possible cycling strategy for Huddersfield proved remarkably prescient.
Kirklees Council today announced that a number of roads around Huddersfield and North Kirklees are to be turned over to cyclists as it uses the coronavirus crisis to "completely rethink the way towns work".
The council says it is making immediate changes to streets around Huddersfield town centre and Dewsbury to improve conditions for people on pedal bikes and pedestrians.
The talk by cycling entrepreneur Richard Armitage, above, on bike-friendly towns was watched on Zoom by 66 people and a video of the event, introduced by Chas Ball, can be found at the foot of this column.
He used lessons from Manchester and other European cities to explore what a cycling strategy for Huddersfield and south Kirklees might look like.
He also argued for greater investment in cycling infrastructure in towns and countered arguments against cycling in this area by saying that the valleys, canals and former railway lines offered some excellent cycling opportunities.
Richard showed how cities like Trondheim (Norway) and San Sebastian (Spain) have provided cyclists with assisted hill climbing based on ski lifts or escalators. He suggested that hills were not a total impediment and quoting Billy Connolly, that there was “no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothes”.
Hours later, his words found an echo in the announcement by Kirklees Council. Under its plan, vehicles will be banned from some popular routes in and around the shopping and business district of Huddersfield, including:
Meanwhile Northumberland Street between Lord Street and John William Street will become one-way eastbound to allow cycles to travel eastbound. John William Street will be narrowed to one lane and parking bays will be coned-off temporarily to provide parking for disabled drivers and taxis.
New cycle lanes will be introduced at St Johns Road in both directions from Fitzwilliam Street to the Ring Road. There will also be a new cycle lane at Colne Road along the southern section of gyratory. There are also plans to launch e-scooter rental service based at St George's Square.
Council leader, Coun Shabir Pandor said: “The coronavirus pandemic has been a terrible and difficult period but it has also taught us a lot. “We have a real opportunity here to completely rethink the way our towns and villages work.
"With so many turning to active travel during these unprecedented times, I hope that something we take away from this is a renewed focus on supporting people to walk and cycle.
“If we are to do this, we need to think about barriers that might be standing in the way. We need to build on the appetite people have shown for cycling, running and walking by immediately addressing some of these barriers."
The changes are being paid for using some of the government's £2bn Active Travel fund.
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
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