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Cycling in Yorkshire

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Towpath Resurfacing Apperley Bridge to Shipley

Field Locks, near Apperley Bridge
Field Locks, near Apperley Bridge

Work is due to start in March on resurfacing the Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath between Apperley Bridge and Shipley, according to City Connect.

The £2.7 million programme also includes improvements to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath between Milnsbridge and Slaithwaite.

The works are being delivered through West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s City Connect programme, in partnership with Bradford and Kirklees councils and the Canal & River Trust.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said:

‘Traffic-free routes, such as canal towpaths, not only connect us with the places we need to go, they are often a focal point for the community, providing welcoming places for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy walking and cycling. These upgrades will plug important missing links in our region’s network, helping people get around more easily and contributing to our efforts to tackle the climate emergency on our way to becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038.’

mayor of west yorkshire tracy brabin

While these are the right sentiments, becoming a net zero carbon economy is a huge mission requiring vast structural changes in society. 2038 is 16 years away. It shouldn’t even be mentioned in relation to a basic bit of maintenance or improvement work on a canal towpath.

If we think this is a significant step towards decarbonising Yorkshire, rather than a drop of water in a 127 mile canal, we are fooling ourselves.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The resurfacing works will improve the Leeds to Saltaire cycle route, part of the Sustrans Slow Tour of Yorkshire. According to the Canal & River Trust Yorkshire & North East on Twitter, the new surface will be tar spray and chip.

There were previous works in 2014 and 2015 to resurface the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Kirkstall and Shipley. I reported on these in August 2015. Unfortunately, significant sections between Calverley and Shipley were left at cart track standard.

Cart track surface between Calverley and Shipley
Cart track surface between Calverley and Shipley

The sections that were surfaced were done with tar spray and chip. This left a lot of loose gravel on the top.

Tar spray and chip surface on Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Tar spray and chip surface on Leeds & Liverpool Canal

At the time, Leeds Cycling Campaign told me:

‘The surface is the biggest problem. It wasn’t done right the first time – a poor quality surface was laid which resulted in a lot of people on bikes getting punctures. Now with the second attempt, the tarmac is lumpy and the surface covering is unpleasant and won’t last. It has clearly been designed to affect cyclists adversely. The concern about antisocial behaviour won’t be addressed by prejudicing all users in this way – and note that kids and wheelchair users are hampered much more by the gravel and speed bumps.’

leeds cycling campaign

Towpath Closures

Sections of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath near Shipley, from Bridge 209 Dock Swing Bridge to Lock 14 Dobson Bottom Lock, will be closed from 28th February to 19th August 2022.

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal between Old Bank Bridge and Lock 11 East, Library Lock, will be closed over the same period.

Towpath Resurfacing Apperley Bridge to Shipley

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