Yorkshire Cycle Super Highway to Heaven?
I believe it to be true that Yorkshire has always been at the forefront of UK cycling. The region has been home to cycling pioneers such as Beryl Burton and Brian Robinson and has produced medal winning athletes like Lizzie Armistead. The Grand Départ in 2014 was a massive success bringing a £100m boost to the regional economy. Although it has to be said that many fans were disappointed to see home favourite Mark Cavendish crash out of contention.
One of the countless legacies of the Grand Depart has been the significant rise in popularity of the sport. More people are cycling more often and this can only be seen as a positive outcome, which many hope will resonate in the future through the obvious health and social benefits. Indeed, the Tour de Yorkshire race earlier this year was attended by 1.2m spectators; and we at Curtins also got involved, taking part in the Tour de Yorkshire Sportive Ride. (http://www.curtins.com/news/)
Curtins’ transport planning team has also played its part in the resurgence of cycling, with the design of over 500 new cycle parking spaces as part of our Yorkshire Schools PFI project, and the prioritising cycling through school travel plans http://www.curtins.com/news/?yorkshire-schools-planning-success-for-curtins.
This is all impressive stuff, but is everything rosy in the Yorkshire cycling garden? Not quite; – particularly with faltering efforts to improve cycling facilities in some of the major Yorkshire cities. The record of Leeds and Bradford in building cycle lanes has been poor in recent years and this continues with some of the problems encountered on the £10m Leeds-Bradford Cycle Super Highway (http://cyclecityconnect.co.uk/) project.
Criticisms of the scheme by local cyclists have been well documented in the local press and on social media. A regular cyclist user of the canal towpath (which was recently upgraded as part of the super highway works) reports that his tyre was punctured by the wrong type of newly laid gravel (it was too spiky!).
As a transport engineer I know that it is not easy to balance the demands of different road users and that highway construction projects don’t always get the right results first time. However, I applaud the investment being made and I’m sure that these relatively minor issues will get sorted out as we pedal towards a more cycle friendly White Rose county.
(Photo courtesy of @sus_pension)