A safer cycling route across the A65 where popular cyclist Stuart Holdsworth was killed a year ago has been put forward by the highways department – although it is likely to be another year before funding can be secured.
Stuart was a secretary of the Settle-based World-Wide Wheelers (WWW) cycling club and, ironically, had highlighted the junction at Gildersleets as “dangerous” during an official consultation on cycling routes in Settle. Since his death, there have been renewed calls to create a safer crossing.
The suggestions include creating an area alongside the road at Gildersleets or a cycle island in the centre of the carriageway, similar to the pedestrian island which has recently been installed further up the road near the entrance to Giggleswick Railway Station.
Recently, members of the WWW, County Councillor Richard Welch and highways officials met at Gildersleets to discuss the possibility of pushing forward a plan which had been mooted in May this year.
It proposed creating a cycle route across the A65 at the Rathmell junction, with the cyclists then following the old road past houses at Gildersleets.
Highways manager Chris Craven said: “Basically, an update on that now is that people living at Gildersleets don’t really want the old road reopening for a cycle path passing by their homes, which is understandable, so we have looked again at alternative solutions.
“The one we all seem to agree on is laying a Tarmac cycle path heading north along the A65 from the Rathmell junction towards the Settle turning and then continuing it on the other side to a safe stretch of the Settle road.
“The other route would be straight across the A65 at the Rathmell junction with a Tarmac strip on that side of the road, heading north and round the corner of the Settle turning.
“The strip would need to be wide enough to accommodate two cycles but it is feasible and would cost around £20,000.
“What we are not absolutely sure about yet is when we will be able to get the funding. There is currently the Settle Service Centre Transportation Strategy which has allocated £230,000 for a series of highways improvement schemes. These will be completed by this time next year and the most obvious way to go forward would be to see what was left over and use that money.”
Details of the proposed scheme were presented by Coun Welch at a meeting of Settle Town Council on Monday and members welcomed the scheme as an improvement to the current problem facing cyclists at the dangerous junction.
Police at the meeting said the plans would benefit from a speed restriction of 50mph along that stretch of road, which was notorious for overtaking.
They said that drivers, often having followed lorries from Skipton, “did not look further than their bonnets” and the only fail-safe way for a cyclist to cross the road was either by a bridge over the A65 or a tunnel underneath it.
Councillors noted the details of Coun Welch’s meeting and agreed to further discussion.
Mr Craven said that, once funding was secured, he would draw up a plan to take to parish councils and the county council’s Craven Area Committee for approval.