Cyclists are being “pushed onto busy roads” by a planned diversion.
They are the words of cycling champion and Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt, who has criticised Kirklees Council’s plan to direct cyclists and other Huddersfield to Mirfield Calder Valley Greenway users onto sections of the A62 and A644 and around the “unsafe” bottleneck Cooper Bridge roundabout for 15 weeks while it carries out bridge repairs.
The closure began on Saturday and the council’s Cycle Kirklees took to Facebook to confirm that users will have to come off the greenway at Bog Green Lane and travel along the Cooper Bridge Road and Huddersfield Road until they can rejoin it at Helm Lane in Mirfield, which will add 1.2 miles to their journeys.
This is so a team carries out work to strengthen a bridge on Dalton Bank Road in Colnebridge.
Clr Bolt, a regular greenway user, said that he thought the diversion was “unnecessary” and had been poorly advertised on the ground.
“The whole diversion plan is a mess because cyclists are going to be pushed onto busy roads”, he said.
“To make cyclists have to travel down the A62 and A644 is just a sign of a lack of proper thought going into the diversion decision because it’s going to put off nervous cyclists.
“The Cooper Bridge roundabout is so bad that even our champion cyclist Brian Robinson, who used to meet with friends at the Three Nuns pub, doesn’t start out from there any more because it’s unsafe.
“What’s more, there still aren’t any signs to let users know about the closure and diversion.”
He also commented on the Cycle Kirklees’ assertion that there were cycle lanes “on the A62 in both directions and on the eastbound carriageway of the A644.”
“That is simply not true,” he said. “There are no on road cycle lanes on the A62 for most of this route, the shared use footway is frequently obstructed by customers visiting Marstons Chicken and there are trees and branches that haven’t been cleared near Cooper Bridge , all of which force cyclists further into the road.”
He maintains that his proposed alternative diversion would have taken greenway users on a safer route.
“I proposed months ago that they talk with a landowner to use a 50ft diversion route near the bridge in Dalton Bank Road,” he said. “It needs some work but it could have been done in plenty of time.”
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said the greenway would not be closed until Saturday.
He said: “Officers have visited the site and have agreed with Clr Bolt that they will sweep the footway, cut back some vegetation and make sure the diversion is safe for cyclists.
“Other diversion routes were considered but as they would involve crossing steep private land they were considered unsuitable.
“While there is an official diversion route, we recognise that cyclists and other greenway uses may choose other routes including the canal tow path to avoid this section.
“The diversion will not start until September 7 by which time signs will be in place advising of the diversion.”