Yorkshire First’s cycling strategy:


 Yorkshire achieved world-wide fame for hosting the start of The Tour de France in 2014. This year we’ll see ‘Le Tour de Yorkshire’ building on last year’s success. Brilliant! Yorkshire First wants to see these cycling triumphs having a long-term impact. We want Yorkshire to become Britain’s number 1 ‘cycling region’ with the most people using the bike to get about their daily lives and most cycle tourism.  As we hear about horrendous levels of air pollution the health benefits of cycling and walking are becoming ever-more obvious. Getting people to visit our beautiful county and see it by bike brings enormous economic benefits as well as reducing the number of cars causing congestion on rural roads.

This strategy has been developed with the help of cyclists in Yorkshire and – if and when we get Yorkshire First MPs elected – we will work hard to ensure cycling features strongly in the Government’s national transport strategies. When we get our own assembly for Yorkshire we would be able to do so much more, as Scotland and Wales are already doing with their own evolved governments.

Currently, Yorkshire lags behind many regions in the number of people cycling regularly, with 13.6% of adults regularly using their bike (national average is 14.6%) though parts of the region such as York, Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire have higher than average rates (Sport England figures 2013/4). We want to increase the number of people cycling for ‘utility’ purposes (journeys to work, school, college, shops) in all areas.

Yorkshire First fully endorses the Cyclist Touring Club’s five ‘challenges’ to prospective candidates:

Ambition: Increase levels of cycling to 10% of trips by 2025 and 25% by 2050

  • Funding: An average government spend of at least £10 per person per year on cycling
  • Design standards: Create consistently high design standards for cycling in all highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned road maintenance work
  • Safety: Measures to improve cycle safety by strengthening road traffic law and its enforcement and revising the Highway Code
  • Positive promotion: Support positive promotion of cycling, including cycle skills training, for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Our short-term strategy

We want to see regional targets for increasing cycle journeys – for both journeys to work and for leisure purposes. Yorkshire currently lags behind some regions and we want to see practical measures implemented to make Yorkshire the UK’s Number 1 Cycling Region. Here’s how:

  •  National government should expect cycling to feature strongly in local authority transport plans; every local authority with transport responsibilities should have at least one officer solely dedicated to cycling, at a senior level. Each local authority should produce a cycling strategy with ambitious targets to get more local residents on their bikes.
  • Measures to promote cycling and walking should account for at least 10% of all highway budgets
  • There should be an annual cycling budget and a ‘cycle challenge’ to encourage innovation in cycle provision in local authorities
  • Schools should be incentivised to provide cycle training – and encourage pupils and staff to come to school by bike, with safe parking and appropriate facilities
  • Make sure the needs of cyclists are given greater priority in all new road schemes – including local and also on the strategic highway network.
  • Public contracts with private sector companies – e.g. rail franchises – should specify measures to support and promote cycling, e.g. more space on trains, safe cycle storage at stations, cycle hire at larger stations
  • Cycling organisations should be regularly consulted on national, regional and local transport plans

A longer term strategy for Yorkshire

  • A Yorkshire Assembly would recognise the health, environmental, economic and social benefits of cycling and invest heavily in developing a safe and accessible cycle network
  • All public buildings will be required to have good facilities for cycle storage; employees will be incentivised to cycle as part of their work instead of using expensive and un-necessary car journeys; assembly members will be encouraged to cycle as part of their duties, and use public transport for longer trips
  • We want to see a joined-up network of bike hire at all main stations across Yorkshire where bikes can be hired at low-cost and, if necessary, returned to a different station
  • All local trains should have space for at least four bikes, carried free
  • The traditional bike shop is an endangered species. We would provide grants and loans to encourage co-operatives and small businesses developing bike shops which sell, repair and rent out bikes as part of a regional network

A strategy for the Colne Valley

The Colne Valley may not seem natural cycling territory – it has a lot of hills! But a far bigger deterrent to cycling is the road network, with little consideration given to cyclists in highway engineering.

  • The success of developing an off-road cycle network in North Kirklees should be repeated in the Colne Valley constituency: the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath should be developed so that it is safe to both cycle and walk along the towpath – with cyclists giving priority to walkers.
  • There should be mainly off-road (or traffic-clamed) routes from both the Colne and Holme Valleys into the centre of Huddersfield, connecting with cycle routes to Mirfield, Dewsbury and Brighouse
  • All rail stations (Marsden, Slaithwaite, Lockwood, Brockholes, Honley) should have safe cycle storage
  • Areas with low level of cycle use should be targeted through schools and community groups to encourage cycling
  • Make sure that Kirklees Council ensures that all local road schemes are ‘cycle-proofed’ to ensure cyclists’ needs are taken into account
  • Shops, cafes and pubs should be encouraged to provide safe storage facilities for bikes, with a small grants fund available from Kirklees Council and/or local parish councils
  • A great way to get people cycling is to encourage small groups of people to get on their bikes: make it a sociable thing. Lets’ have lots of local cycling groups for all abilities! The old ‘Clarion’ cycling club did just that back in the 1890s.

 This paper has been put together by Dr Paul Salveson, Yorkshire First’s transport spokesperson and the party’s parliamentary candidate for Colne Valley. Paul is a trustee of the Campaign for Better Transport. When he was a member of Kirklees he worked with colleagues to set up an all-party group of cycling councillor. He drafted Northern Rail’s first comprehensive cycling strategy in 2007 and established the Northern Rail Cycle Users’ Forum.