The Leeds Cycling Campaign is petitioning for a safe crossing at Skelton Grange Road Bridge, which they say prevents access for many of the 500 people who use the Transpennine Trail and Sustrans National Cycle Network every day.
The steep and often slippery steps at the Bridge make access to the tow-path very difficult for many people, including those with a bike, families with buggies, mobility scooter users and people in wheelchairs.
David Miles, member of the management committee on the Leeds Cycling Campaign said: “We’ve heard feedback from parents that children are scared to go down the steep steps. Increasingly lots of people are using electric bikes and they are much heavier than the standard bike.
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“The result is a lot of people are not accessing this fantastic route.
“It’s complicated because there are a lot of people involved. We are at a point that we haven’t been before and are optimistic that it can happen. It will need everyone to work jointly together.”
Tyler Grant is a wheelchair user who is joining the campaign to make the bridge accessible: “It’s really hard knowing that I can only go halfway without any assistance and then I can’t get up this part.
“I would really like for it to be more accessible and it would mean myself, other people in manual wheelchairs and anybody that is coming out independently they would then be able to manage the full trail and go across the bridge on their own.
“That would be really important for me, independence is what I am after in everyday life.”
More than 2500 people have signed the petition to improve the route and the issue has been ongoing for more than 15 years, with a feasibility study being commissioned in 2006.
Conservative councillor for Alwoodley Neil Buckley said: “My wife and I are quite keen walkers and a few weeks ago we were walking along that area and we actually saw this problem at first hand. Something has to be done about it.
“Some imagination is going to have to be deployed here to lever in different funds. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and find out what funding can be available.”
Skelton Grange Road Bridge is part of recently resurfaced the canal towpath stretching from Leeds to Woodlesford and is privately owned, meaning the council has to rely on the co-operation of many parties including Leeds Cycling Campaign, Canal and River Trust, Trans Pennine Trail, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and land owners.
Councillor Peter Carlill, Lead Member for Active Travel at Leeds City Council, had a meeting with stakeholders last summer to try and come up with a solution.
“Hopefully in the next few weeks or couple of months, we’ll be at the point where we have a preferred option that is feasible to appoint and we can look for funding,” Cllr Carlill said.
“Pre-pandemic the government announced £250m of funding for active travel. This is very welcome and we have always had the ambition to have 800km of walking routes across the city.
“The communities who live near this bridge could really benefit from being able to walk into the city centre on safe, clean routes.”
You can sign Leeds Cycling Campaign’s petition here: https://www.change.org/p/leeds-city-council-secure-a-safe-and-accessible-crossing-for-ncn-route-67-and-the-tpt-at-skelton-grange-road?use_react=false