By KLTV Newsdesk
Kirklees Council has revealed immediate changes it is making to Huddersfield and Dewsbury Town Centres to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Government wants to reduce the number of people relying on public transport and cars so has made £2 billion available to support projects such as cycle and walking routes via the Active Travel fund.
Using some of its allocation of this money, Kirklees Council will be making some changes straight away in Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
As part of its priority to tackle the Climate Emergency, the Council says it is throwing its weight behind these types of initiatives.
The use of public transport and motor vehicles in Kirklees has substantially reduced during the coronavirus pandemic.
The effects of these changes can already be seen with roads clearer and a notable reduction in air pollution and the council say they are keen to build on this beyond the current lockdown period.
Below are some of the short-term changes Kirklees is looking to make to Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Huddersfield Town Centre
Within the next three-four weeks a cycle route through Huddersfield Town Centre will be in operation, through the temporary pedestrianisation of a number of roads.
A number of streets will allow access for cyclists and pedestrians only including; Firth Street between Wakefield Road and Colne Road, Cross Church Street, Church Street, Wood Street, Byram Street and Market Place.
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 John’s 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.
Signage will be installed to help make cyclists, pedestrians and drivers aware of the temporary changes.
There is also plans to introduce a cycle parking zone and an e-scooter hire facility to St George’s Square.
A number of changes are also set to take place in Dewsbury Town Centre.
There will be a temporary trial conversion of Dewsbury Ring Road to make the nearside lane between A635 Leeds Road and A638 Bradford Road/Northgate for cyclists only.
Halifax Road between Northgate and Dewsbury Ring Road will also be closed to motor vehicles.
Long Causeway will also be closed to all traffic except buses between Dewsbury Ring Road and Town Hall Way to further improve access for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Council has also outlined some of its longer-term goals as part of its climate emergency initiative.
Work to improve conditions for more active forms of travel such as cycling and walking will be phased, with the above taking place immediately.
Kirklees Council will be taking part in a West Yorkshire-wide engagement in the coming weeks, which will give people the chance to have their say on what further changes can be made. This will also take place on a more local level in Kirklees.
There will also be work to encourage and enable behaviour change and to better promote active travel as a choice.
Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council 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.
“That’s what these first round of changes aim to do but this is the very beginning, I urge you to stay tuned for the engagement soon to launch on this so you can help us get this right.”
It is hoped that once lockdown restrictions begin to ease up, that most people will continue to rely on more active forms of transport such as cycling to get around for short trips.
The council has a vested interest in maintaining these forms of active travel if it wishes to hit its goal of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2038
Councillor Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Greener Kirklees, said: “We’ve seen such a huge increase in the number of people cycling, walking and running in recent months and we want to continue to encourage this.
“Active travel has huge benefits on both the health of individuals but also the environment and we have seen air pollution drop during the lockdown period.
“Our Huddersfield and Dewsbury Blueprint regeneration plans have greener forms of travel running right through them. This is further supported by our commitments to tackle the Climate Emergency and to make Kirklees completely carbon neutral by 2038.
“Active and green travel has been right at the top of our agenda for some time and now is the time to take that commitment even further.”
Kirklees Council’s plans currently under consideration are safety issues arising from insufficient pedestrian space for safe walking, including crowding at points of restriction at town and village centres and schools.
They will also look to create more space for safe local exercise around local parks and provide green alternatives to cars and public transport for key workers which may involve cycling facilities on key routes.