£29 million scheme will create cycle superhighway between Northern cities

A planned cycle route between Leeds and Bradford could become a safety hazard, opposition councillors on Leeds City Council have warned.

Earlier this year West Yorkshire was awarded an £18m Cycle City Ambition grant to improve cycling provision in the area, including a ‘cycle superhighway’ between Leeds and Bradford. The remainder of the £29 million funding will come from local government.

The scheme includes a largely segregated east/west cross-city route in Leeds which will provide a direct link between the cities, and the resurfacing of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath between Shipley and Armley. There will also be secure bike parking areas, and 20mph zones for vehicles.

Upgrading the 14 miles of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath means it will become the longest continuous cycleway in the north of England.

But Councillor Andrew Carter, opposition Conservative group leader at Leeds City Council, believes that the plan could create safety hazards for pedestrians who currently use the towpath.

According to the Yorkshire Post, Councillor Carter said the stretch of towpath between Kirkstall and Shipley already throws up regular cases of “irresponsible cyclists causing havoc and threatening pedestrian safety”.

Routes that mix cyclists and pedestrians have a history of causing conflict if they become highly used. Earlier this year, transport charity Sustrans called for riders of fast road bikes to slow down on shared use paths “where their use was never foreseen or catered for”.

The details of the towpath and cross-city routes have not yet been decided, so there is still time for the needs of all types of cyclists to be taken into account. Transport consultancy Steer Davies Gleave is currently advertising for members of a consultation team that will sound out local people’s opinions on the scheme.

Councillor Carter’s comments are not the first time Leeds and Bradford opposition councillors have complained about the plan. When the grant was announced Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group on Bradford City Council, told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: “It is yet another pie in the sky idea brought forward – and yet again opposition parties are not involved.

“We must remember road users pay a lot in petrol and road tax. And there are more road users than cyclists.”

But Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council's executive member for Transport, said: “This funding is fantastic and is a great boost for us to create a high quality cycle route between Leeds and Bradford. 

“It is an exciting initiative that will help encourage more people to make safer cycling journeys for both work and leisure. It should also give children more confidence to cycle and improve their physical activity and health."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.