THREE kilometers of canal towpath will be given a major upgrade as part of a scheme to improve cycle links between Leeds and Bradford.

Improvements to a stretch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal from Shipley to Apperley Bridge will be among the schemes being discussed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee at a meeting next Tuesday.

Members will be asked to provide £1.363 million funding for a joint scheme that would see improvements to both this stretch of canal towpath and 4.3km of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal from Milnsbridge to Slaithwaite.

Cycling and walking routes endorsed by transport committee

The committee will be told that the work is part of a push to increase walking and cycling on the two routes by up to 66 per cent - and encourage people to see the canal paths as a “traffic free” alternative to main roads.

It will be part of the CityConnect project, a West Yorkshire Combined Authority scheme that has seen miles of segregated cycleway created in Bradford and Leeds.

Both schemes would be delivered by the Canal and Rover Trust.

If the funding is approved, the work could be completed by next Spring - in time for Summer 2021.

The Shipley stretch of work will run from Dock Lane in Shipley to the Dobson Locks area in Apperley Bridge.

Although much of the canal towpath around Shipley has seen improvements in recent years, much of the route East of Shipley, around Esholt and towards Apperley Bridge remains below standard, and not ideal for pedestrians during bad weather.

The improvements would link up to the CityConnect route in Shipley, which runs to Bradford city centre, boosting cycle links from Apperley Bridge to Bradford.

A report to the committee says: “The scheme will deliver a high-quality cycle route in the Kirklees and Bradford districts, between Huddersfield and Slaithwaite on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and Shipley in Bradford on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

“In total, 6km of improvements will be delivered, building upon previous City Connect scheme improvements, by utilising the canal towpaths, as a traffic free, flat and attractive alternative to the main roads.

“The new upgraded towpath will increase widths available for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as providing a durable all-weather surface that is also in keeping with the nature and historic value of the canal environment.

“The aim of the CityConnect programme is to encourage more people to travel by bike, through the creation of high-quality infrastructure and delivering engagement initiatives to enable shifts in behaviour change.”

Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “From connecting people across our region, to reducing air pollution and congestion, and combatting physical inactivity and obesity, we know increasing the numbers of people choosing to travel by bike or on foot has a vital role to play in making West Yorkshire a great place to live and work.”

The committee meets online next Tuesday at 11am.