The shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin MP went on a bike tour of the popular local cycle and walking route the Spen Valley Greenway in Kirklees last week, to look at improving links to the path for families and other groups who use the path.
Tracy, who is MP for Batley and Spen, met with our Director for the North of England Rosslyn Colderley and our Network Development Manager for the region Rupert Douglas as well as Ian Bangay of the Kirklees Cycling Campaign. Thousands of people use the Greenway every year for walking and cycling short journeys including to nurseries and schools in the area, commuting to workplaces, local activity groups, and leisure.
Tracy said she was inspired by the path’s role to encourage active travel in the local community and would support our work to develop a bigger network of traffic-free cycling and walking routes in West Yorkshire.
Tracy Brabin MP said:
“It was great fun to meet Sustrans this week and have our meeting on two wheels whilst cycling the Spen Valley Green Way. It's important to our community and the health of our young people to encourage cycling. Recent statistics show Batley and Spen as one of the lowest bike users in Yorkshire and Humber. This is a shame and a lost opportunity. The Grande Depart showed just what glorious countryside we have locally and I know cycling tourism could be an engine of regeneration not just around the Greenway but further afield.
“I am committed to supporting any opportunities that come our way to make Batley and Spen a destination and not somewhere you pass through on the way to Leeds or Huddersfield.”
Rosslyn Colderley, our Director for the North of England said:
“The Spen Valley Greenway is incredibly well-used by the local community, with children walking to school, people cycling to work and community groups running or cycling along it.
“We’re very grateful for the support we receive from Kirklees Council and would love to create more local links to traffic-free routes like this in West Yorkshire so more people can feel safe to enjoy active travel. It was fantastic to meet Tracy and we’re looking forward to working with her in the future to help develop the region’s cycle and walking network.”
The Spen Valley Greenway is Route 66 on the National Cycle Network, over 14,000 miles of on-road and traffic-free routes across the UK. Sustrans works with West Yorkshire councils, the combined authority and organisations like Canal & River Trust to develop the National Cycle Network to make cycling and walking easier for both local people and visitors, and help with local regeneration.
We maintain the Spen Valley Greenway at a cost of around £50,000 per year, partly funded by Kirklees Council. Last year the warden collected around 3000 litter bags and recycled roughly 1000 glass bottles from the route, in partnership with the Council’s Street Scene department. We also rely on a band of local volunteers to help with litter picking and habitat management along the route.
The traffic-free path is part of our Greener Greenways project, which aims to protect and enhance biodiversity and connect habitats along off-road cycle and walking routes.