PLANS to allow cyclists to ride on footpaths near Mirfield have sparked anger from residents.

The plans are in an officials' report being discussed by Kirklees Council's Cabinet today.

Council transport officials want to let cyclists use footpaths along parts of the A62 Leeds Road between the Three Nuns pub at Cooper Bridge and Roberttown.

Where the 1.2-mile route is wide enough proper cycle lanes will be installed.

But there are two sites where it is too narrow and cyclists will be able to use the footpath instead.

One is these sections runs for nearly a mile towards Mirfield, along a 1.5 metre-wide path from the Three Nuns to Taylor Hall Lane.

The second section runs for 200 metres towards Huddersfield, near the junction with Stocks Bank Road.

The footpath here is three metres wide.

The shared footpaths will have markings and signs to show that cyclists can use them.

It is expected to cost between £15,000 and £20,000 to install the cycle route, which is part of the council's aim of linking existing cycle routes on Leeds Road in Huddersfield with the Spen Valley Greenway, which starts in Liversedge.

But the Three Nuns to Roberttown scheme has provoked objections from Leeds Road residents.

They say the footpaths are too narrow to cope and pedestrians could be in danger of being run down by cyclists.

Motorists who cross the paths when turning out of their driveways also say it will be hard to see oncoming cyclists on the paths.

The residents say the scheme is not justified because only a few cyclists use the route - on average 12 to 17 in 12 hours.

But council officials say cyclists will not add to problems for motorists pulling out of their drives - because they should already be taking care to avoid pedestrians on the paths.

As a precaution, give way markings, red surfacing and warning signs will be installed near driveways to alert cyclists.

Officers say just a few pedestrians use the paths which would be shared.

Richard Hadfield, of Kirklees highways department, said a shared footway has been in use between Bradley and Cooper Bridge since 2000 without problems.

He added: "We have had letters of support from cycling groups and forums. Cyclist numbers are low on the route, but we are trying to encourage people to cycle more and feel safe."

Clr Martyn Bolt, who represents Mirfield on Kirklees, is a keen cyclist. He has been involved with cycling groups discussing the new route.

He said: "The report makes common sense. Leeds Road is a real danger for cyclists because of the narrow width and because a lot of motorists don't show consideration.

"The residents' complaints are blinkered. Some say they hardly see a cyclist. They won't until the road is safe.

"You have to invest in the future. If we provide safe cycling facilities more people will cycle, there will be fewer cars and fewer jams.

"The residents are giving a knee-jerk reaction to something new."