Farnley Country Park - a boost for local cycling

Farnley Country Park could provide a ‘boost for local cycling’

According to cycling experts, the creation of Farnley Country Park has the potential to fill a much needed gap in facilities for local cyclists.

We invited Dale Casper, a qualified British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader who works at Albion Cycles in Thongsbridge, as well as local cyclists, to give their thoughts and advice on the potential for mountain biking within Hey Wood.

While there is a lot of countryside around Huddersfield, very little is accessible for cyclists. According to Dale, at the moment, people from Huddersfield must travel to Sheffield for the recently opened Lady Canning trail, or further afield, such as Gisburn Forest Park and Dalby Forest, to ride properly maintained off-road mountain biking tracks. He said:

“This could provide a valuable stepping stone for people coming into the sport and for those who just want to ride for fun and health benefits. As well as giving experienced riders somewhere to train, it will provide families with an off-road, properly managed and accessible location where they can try the sport in relative safety. To have such a facility on our doorstep would be a real boost for local cycling.”

While the popularity of cycling in the UK is growing, 2.1 million* people cycle at least once a week, as a country we lag behind our European neighbours. According to the Get Britain Cycling report 2014**, commissioned by Sustrans, only 2% of journeys are made by bike, compared with 27% in the Netherlands.  

One of the biggest barriers to people cycling is the perception that roads are too dangerous for cyclists. Many people also state that they would cycle more often if there were more cycle paths^.

Paul Sykes, Director Farnley Estates Ltd, said: “The Tour de France illustrated the popularity of cycling in the region and there is a real demand for safer places to cycle. If we are given the means to create Farnley Country Park with off-road cycling routes, designed with conservation in mind and sympathetic to the environment, it could be of huge benefit to Kirklees. As well as encouraging more individuals and families to try cycling, with all its associated health gains, the Park could also attract cyclists to the region, leading to economic benefits for local people.”

The land has been designated as ‘Strategic Green Infrastructure’ in Kirklees Council’s draft Local Plan, which is a positive step forward for the Farnley Country Park vision. The areas of land within the Park boundary, which the Estate has identified could be sold to meet the Council’s housing demand and fund Farnley Country Park’s creation, however, have not been included.

To have your say on the draft Local Plan email Local.development@kirklees.gov.uk

Sources:

*http://www.sportengland.org/research/who-plays-sport/by-sport/   

**http://www.sustrans.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/files/get%20britain%20cycling/get-britain-cycling.pdf

^http://road.cc/content/news/28431-road-danger-biggest-barrier-cycling-says-research-commissioned-dft