Canal Road Greenway & Cycleway, Shipley to Bradford

1st July 2019

Canal Road Cycleway, Bradford
Canal Road Cycleway, Bradford

What follows is my impression of the Canal Road Greenway and Cycleway. I'm not a regular user of it, but I rode it from Shipley to Bradford yesterday (when looking at the route of the Yorkshire Worlds elite women's road race in Bradford). Overall, I thought it was quite a good urban route, and one that I would use.

As I understand it, the Canal Road Greenway does the first part of the Shipley to Bradford route. It has been there for some time. It's a shared use path, typical of a Sustrans route (but definitely one of their better ones). The Canal Road Cycleway forms the second part of the route, and is a segregated urban 'superhighway'. It is more recent, and was completed and opened in May 2019.

Canal Road Greenway

Canal Road Greenway
Start of the Canal Road Greenway in Shipley
  1. The start of the Greenway is unprepossessing, to say the least. There are confusing signs, including one about this being private land, and only the tiniest blue Sustrans cycle route sticker. I nearly turned back before I realised it actually was the cycle route I was looking for
  2. The path is quite wide for most of the way, which is helpful on a shared use route
  3. There's no priority where the path crosses roads. They should put in cycle zebras. It's all very well national and local government saying they want active travel to be the natural choice for short journeys, but you have to back up words with action, otherwise they are meaningless

Canal Road Cycleway

  1. The Cycleway takes over from the Greenway for the second part of the journey into Bradford. It's a two-way green-painted bike lane. It does have a kerb - physical protection from the traffic. This is essential anyway, and more so given the high number of boy racers I came across in a short time in Bradford
  2. In general, the bike route has priority over side roads and driveways - again, essential to a quality bike route. Good use is made of cycle zebras (see main photo at the top of the page). At the major junctions, you have to press a button to request permission cross
  3. There are quite a lot of places where the route designers have lost their nerve, and made the bike route give way to side roads and driveways. One of those is a drive-thru Costa Coffee at the junction of Canal Road and Stanley Road. (There are a million good reasons why this sort of car-centric development, which is founded on single-use packaging, should be discouraged; unfortunately, in this instance, the council is still prioritising the environmentally damaging over the sustainable).
  4. Bike routes like this need to have sufficient continuity, and be logical and easy to use, or they will be ignored. Generally, the Canal Road Cycleway passes this test. One exception is a section (by the Hillam Court Industrial Estate, I think), where it tried to send me to the wrong side of the road for what seemed like no good reason

Summary

This is quite a good route. It is usable, and provides a convenient and safe option for getting into Bradford from Shipley.

The Greenway could be improved, by providing cycle zebras where it crosses roads.

The council should follow up the work it has done on the Cycleway by observing how it is used in practice, altering it if need be, and applying the lessons to future projects. They should talk to local Bradford cyclists, and get feedback.