A MAJOR scheme to encourage walking and cycling in Keighley town centre – which could include pedestrianising some areas and blocking-off road junctions – has been given the green light.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority has endorsed the so-called Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.
A series of options is set out in the blueprint, which identifies the town centre as a ‘core walking zone’.
Proposals include the removal or reduction of traffic from Cavendish Street. If the area is pedestrianised it could include cycle lanes, planting and benches.
Pedestrian crossing facilities would be improved at the Bradford Road/Cavendish Street junction, where the number of traffic lanes may be reduced and footpaths widened.
Vehicular access to and from side roads along North Street could be restricted, through the installation of bollards.
And improvements are proposed in Scott Street, running parallel to North Street, to make it more walking and cycling friendly.
The report states that feasibility studies, full designs and costings are still to be done.
Town mayor, Councillor Peter Corkindale, says the scheme has its merits.
But he warns that much “joined-up thinking” would be required to ensure the plans were workable and met different people’s needs.
“I can fully understand the thinking behind encouraging people to walk and cycle – it’s generally recognised that since lockdown the reduction in vehicles on the roads has led to a noticeable improvement in air quality,” said Cllr Corkindale.
“However, the challenge is how do you introduce such measures without compromising people’s ability to get around the town? Our arterial routes are clogged with traffic, and we live in an extremely hilly area. Not everyone can walk or cycle. Where do cars and other vehicles, including buses, go?
“I can see the benefits, but we need to ensure the town doesn’t die as a result. A fine balancing act has to be achieved.”
The combined authority heard that although the plans – which also include schemes in other parts of Bradford district – were drawn-up before the coronavirus pandemic, the proposals could “harness” lifestyle changes people have made during lockdown.
The scheme has been developed in advance of funding being secured. The Government has pledged £250 million nationally to boost ‘active travel’ projects, but the authority was told that the money is yet to materialise.
Councillor Kim Groves, chairman of the authority’s transport committee, said: “We hope these schemes will enable more people to walk or cycle everyday journeys."