ORGANISERS of the £29 million cycle superhighway have officially launched the long-awaited project which promises a safe cycling route to connect Bradford with neighbouring Leeds.

The nine-mile CityConnect Cycle Superhighway, which links Bradford and Leeds, was dubbed the 'highway to health' when it was announced.

The segregated cycleway runs from east Leeds to the Broadway Shopping Centre in Bradford city centre.

The Leeds to Bradford stretch of the cycle superhighway, CS1, was officially opened yesterday, Thursday, after 18 months under construction.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council's executive member for environment, sport and culture, was among those who performed the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday.

She said: "It has been a great project between Leeds and Bradford which will bring health benefits to users as well as economic benefits between the two cities while giving users a different and safe mode of transport."

Also noting the health benefits was Councillor Keith Wakefield, chairman of the West Yorkshire Transport Committee who said: "This is the first superhighway outside London for cyclists and is something we should be celebrating. It is a credit for the north and for Leeds and Bradford.

"Our responsibility has been to create this superhighway so it is as safe as possible for everyone of all ages to use the route. As a cyclist myself I am really proud of it and looking forward to using it myself."

Secretary of the Bradford Cycling Campaign James Craig said he had cycled most of the route and said it was very good.

"It separates vehicles from cyclists which can only be better for everyone. It will be a good way of getting from A to B and I hope it is well supported. Encouraging people to cycle will bring about health benefits and while many will say £29million is a lot to spend, by supporting people to become healthier will eventually save the NHS millions of pounds."

John Dennis, chairman of the advisory group for CityConnect agreed and member of the Active Bradford partnership.

"I think it is fantastic. It is a bold scheme and designed primarily for people who don't yet cycle. It will give people confidence as they use it."

The project, funded by the Department for Transport, Bradford and Leeds councils and transport body Metro, did draw controversy after some vehicles were seen parked on the route as it was being constructed.

Residents in Thornbury condemned inconsiderate motorists for blocking the two-lane marked cycle track in Dick Lane, Thornbury, and in Bradford Moor.

Ginny Leonard, of CityConnect, said: "The scheme has provided six bicycles for police enforcement offices to use, three from Leeds and three from Bradford.

They will patrol the route regularly each week and will issue enforcement notices from this Monday to anyone parked on or obstructing the route. The fine will be £70, halved to £35 if paid within 14 days.

For the past two weeks officers have been issuing warning notices.

More than 13,000 people took part in a consultation before work started, with the results leading bosses to tweak parking arrangements, give longer loading periods for nearby businesses and make alterations to crossings and bus stops.

More than 80 per cent of people who responded to the consultation were in favour of the idea.