Hopes to 'harness' healthy lockdown changes in West Yorkshire

The Combined Authority are planning schemes to encourage people to cycle and walk more often.

Schemes to boost walking and cycling in West Yorkshire could help keep people from using their cars for “short, everyday journeys.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has endorsed a number of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans for the district.

The plans were drawn up before the Coronavirus pandemic, after Government suggested all regions develop active travel plans.

Members were told that in the current climate the proposals could “harness” the changes people have made during lockdown, including walking and cycling more often.

The Government has made similar claims, and recently pledged £250 million nationally to boost “active travel” schemes, making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

But the Authority was told that this money has yet to materialise, and the Government had given no indication of when it would.

In Bradford the plans include turning parts of Keighley town centre, including Cavendish Street and North Street, into a “core walking zone” by blocking off some side streets to vehicle traffic and increasing pedestrian facilities.

In Bradford a new cycle route would be created to link the city centre to to Tong Street, with another route linking Laisterdyke to Low Moor.

These routes would be a mix of segregated cycle lanes and mixed lanes, and would feature more crossing facilities.

As well as the Bradford district schemes, there will be a cycle and walking scheme in each of West Yorkshire’s districts.

Calderdale would have a cycle route from Bailiff Bridge to Rastrick via Brighouse and a walking zone in Halifax.

Kirklees would have a cycle network in East Huddersfield and a walking network in Dewsbury town centre.

Councillor Kim Groves, chair of the authority’s transport committee said:

“We hope this will encourage more people to use active travel. I can’t emphasise how important it will be in the recovery from Covid.

“The government has reflected that with their recent announcement of £250 million emergency funding.

“The Districts are getting on with developing schemes, but that funding hasn’t reached local government at this point, and there is no indication of when that funding will come.

“We hope these schemes will enable more people to walk or cycle short every day journeys.

“We really need to capture and harness the changes people have made to their lives through the Covid situation.

“There are currently more people cycling, I’ve heard it’s very hard to get hold of a cycle, and walking, and it is important we encourage that going forward.”

Cllr Groves was asked if there was any indication when the government funding would arrive. She said:

“I had a call with the Department for Transport yesterday and they gave no indication of when the fund will be available, how it will be divided among the country and what mechanism they’ll give to us to implement it.

“It is very unclear and really unhelpful because we have officers with good ideas and schemes that are ready to go, but at the moment we can’t get on with it.”

Chair of the Authority and Leader of Bradford Council Susan Hinchcliffe said:

“Today we’re going to pass the plans, but we need the money to deliver them. The message to Government needs to be that they’ve put £250 million on the table, now tell us how much we’re getting and when we’re getting it.”

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