Use of Towpaths – Canal and River Trust Survey

Hello Everyone with best wishes for an enjoyable 2017 to all members of the Calderdale Cycling Community.

This time in 2015 the prospects for improved conditions for Calderdale Cyclists in 2017 – especially for new and inexperienced riders – looked good. West Yorkshire Combined Authority had put forward a bid to the Government for funds to support improved cycling infrastructure along the valley bottom between Cooper Bridge and Todmorden, with the works to be completed by end March 2018. The bid was successful, and we all looked forward to a massive improvement given that we had got over four million pounds allocated to make things happen.

Since then, progress has been very slow. The bulk of the moneys were allocated to the Canal and River Trust (CRT) to upgrade sections of the Calder and Hebble / Rochdale Canal towpath; we therefore expected the completion of the Cooper Bridge “missing link” and long sections of towpath upgraded to the same standard (a wide, tarmacked route) as that we currently enjoy between Copley and Brighouse.

Those hopes currently hang in the balance. As those with an interest will have seen from the CRT roadshows last month – see my previous posts – , there is no certainty that Cooper Bridge will happen at all (because of a lack of co-operation on the part of CRT) and the “upgrades” proposed comprise a narrow strip with an inferior surface. As the Calderdale representative on the City Connect Advisory Group that comments on these matters I will try and get these things changed, but as things stand I am not hopeful. Watch this space…

Anyway, on to the purpose of this post. There has been a creeping suspicion on behalf of both myself and other members of the Advisory Group that CRT simply see the government funding as an opportunistic means of promoting their perceived role as a preserver of architectural heritage, and not, as the money is intended, as a means of promoting cycling through high class infrastructure. Shortly before Christmas 2016 CRT announced that they were undertaking a consultation on the use of towpaths as a means of informing future policy.

A link to the consultation can be found here The subtext of the consultation appears to be “Will you please tell us that cyclists are misusing our towpath network so we can do something to stop them”. Whilst that is bad enough in itself, it is a million times worse when here in Calderdale CRT are trying to get their hands on four million quid that is supposed to be to create a high quality infrastructure for local cyclists.

With that as background I encourage you to complete the questionnaire, as the more cyclists that do so the better.

The closing date for responses is 20 January 2017.

Thanks for reading this. I hope future posts in the next 12 months will be  bit more positive and optimistic.

Reid Anderson