Ribbon cutting celebrates new improvements to Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath

Communities in West Yorkshire came together to celebrate the completion of work to improve walking and cycling on one of the region’s most idyllic routes.

The event, which was attended by cycling clubs and community leaders, followed months of work to resurface and widen a two-mile stretch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal’s towpath for cyclists and walkers. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place outside Saltaire Brewery, along with rides from local cycling clubs Bradford Capital of Cycling and Bingley Belles to celebrate a new beginning for the route. 

The stretch of towpath between Shipley and Apperley Bridge has been resurfaced and widened, making it a more accessible and enjoyable route for people to walk, wheel, scoot and cycle. The work was funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, and will help more people to make more journeys on foot or by bike.

This latest investment in West Yorkshire’s network of canal towpaths marks a total of £8.2million across 25 miles of new routes that have been improved by the Combined Authority in partnership with Canal & River Trust since 2014.  

This popular stretch of towpath has seen a gradual increase in weekday commuter usage since 2016. Given the rise of homeworking following the pandemic, this represents a likely significant increase in the total number of people benefiting from the safe and comfortable route. 

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: 

“The improvements to the towpath between Shipley and Apperley Bridge are part of our work to make cycling the natural choice for short journeys in West Yorkshire. 

“To tackle the climate emergency, more of us will need to use cycling and other carbon neutral forms of transport – I’m happy we’re making green travel easier and more enjoyable.” 

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport at Bradford Metropolitan District Council, said:  

“This investment by the Combined Authority and our partners has delivered improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure across West Yorkshire that will benefit residents for many years to come. 

“Widening and improving the surface of the towpath makes for a much smoother and more enjoyable journey, whether you’re walking, cycling, using a wheelchair, or any other mode of transport.” 

Sean McGinley, regional director of Canal & River Trust, said:  

“It’s fantastic to see the local community enjoying the upgraded towpath, whether they use it as a place to keep fit, a green, traffic-free route to work, or just a quiet place to de-stress.  

“Research shows that being by the water is good for our health and wellbeing and the canal is on the doorstep and free for everyone to enjoy.” 

The scheme is part of a £2.7 million investment to boost access on two West Yorkshire canals, which also involved towpath improvement works between Milnsbridge and Slaithwaite, on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Kirklees. 

Find out more about new routes across West Yorkshire on CityConnect