A SILSDEN councillor campaigning for improvements to a neglected stretch of canal towpath has invited decision-makers to cycle along it.

Cllr David Loud originally planned a mass cycle ride on August 1 that would take in the two-mile stretch of linking Silsden and Kildwick along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

He had invited local and national politicians, the media, local residents, and representatives from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Canals & Rivers Trust and cycle charity Sustrans.

Cllr Loud wanted to highlight what he claims is a dangerous stretch of towpath that suffers greatly in comparison to the stretches on either side, which have been resurfaced in recent years.

He this week decided to postpone the ride after Bradford Council highlighted concerns over rising Covid-19 infection rates.

He said that in recent months travel restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 had encouraged many people to rediscover walking and cycling routes on their own doorstep.

He said: "Sadly this has also highlighted the parts of the existing infrastructure that have seen neglect and under investment for decades.

"There is no better example of this than in the two-mile section of towpath on the Leeds Liverpool Canal that links Silsden and Kildwick.

"There is an urgent need to upgrade this last section. The condition is not only dangerous, but also an embarrassment.

"In the winter months, some sections would be near impassable for cyclists or pedestrians and especially families with young children."

Cllr Loud said that some sections had been been refurbished either recently or some years ago, adding: "the new section between Kildwick and Bradley is quite stunning.

"New sections have seen substantial increases in user numbers which will see improvements in people’s health and wellbeing.

"The difference in public use between the Silsden-Kildwick section and all the other sections is quite staggering – I would estimate up to 80% less."

Cllr Loud believes the cost of improving the Silsden to Kildwick towpath would be small in comparison with "grand schemes" elsewhere in the region, and link Leeds and Bradford directly with the Yorkshire Dales.

He said: "It would open up the entire Aire Valley corridor and provide safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists from the more populated areas of Leeds and Bradford right the way through to the Yorkshire Dales.

"Whilst political leaders express their desire to encourage greater use of bicycles, and invest millions of pounds into city centre schemes, flagship sections and routes that link the larger conurbations, the outer districts which act as feeders to these routes are left behind."