A major cycle scheme in Wetherby has been highlighted in a national report.
Cycling charity Sustrans said in its Paths for Everyone report that it is working with local authorities on an ambitious vision and aims to deliver four major traffic free schemes across the region by 2023, including areas around Wetherby and Harrogate.
“We are proud that Yorkshire has the highest amount of network of any English region, at over 1,000 miles, which is also a fantastic asset for tourism thanks to popular long distance routes such as the Way of the Roses and the Trans Pennine Trail,” said Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans regional director for the North of England.
“We are working with local authorities across the region to ensure the network is part of wider plans for walking and cycling and helping to create links to routes across the UK.
“We want to build on its success and make the network safer and more accessible for everyone, not just for people who currently use it.
“However, historic problems such as poor surfaces, incomplete signage or barriers mean that for people with mobility issues or those of us who are less physically active, there may as well be a ‘no entry’ sign on their local path.”
The independent audit, commissioned by Sustrans, sets out 15 recommendations for change.
The recommendations include the removal or redesign of barriers, doubling the number of paths away from cars, improving safety, signage and path quality.
Across the North, half the network is rated as poor or very poor, with the biggest concern being around traffic safety concerns.
In action projects set out to be delivered by the charity by 2023, it highlights four areas in Yorkshire – a route between Dewsbury and Huddersfield on the Calder Valley Greenway, between Wakefield and Leeds on the Methley Trans-Pennine Trail, Follifoot underpass near Harrogate and extending Wetherby Railway Pass.
While the National Cycle Network has the potential to help people live healthier lives, Sustrans argues it should also been seen as a major piece of transport infrastructure with untapped economic potential.
The charity has estimated such an overhaul will double the number of people travelling actively nationwide – be it on foot, by bike or in a wheelchair – up to 8.8m, totalling a £2.8bn investment over the next 22 years.
“Politicians across Yorkshire are grappling with problems like congested roads, air pollution and increasing levels of obesity,” Ms Colderley added.
“In pure transport terms, the National Cycle Network presents a huge opportunity to transform the way people travel. But the benefits of investing in the network will be seen right across government.”
Work is ongoing to create the Wetherby Red Kite Trail with volunteers out working weekends to create the track.
Last summer saw firefighters soften the way by spraying water on the soil so that volunteers could work on the new Devil’s Toenail bike park, being built by Wetherby Bike Trails and SingletrAction with Wetherby Town Council and Leeds City Council, after land was acquired.
And volunteers are continuing to turn out as the work continues into winter.
Wetherby Bike Trails led work to creat the Little Toe pump track on Millennium Field last year.