Oatlands Drive cycle lane
Existing narrow painted advisory cycle lanes on Oatlands Drive

North Yorkshire County Council (‘NYCC’) has published what its press release calls ‘a strong bid to create better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians…’

NYCC’s bid includes five schemes. The details are set out in NYCC’s EATF Tranche 2 bid document, and are subject to the bid being successful, and if so, consultation.

Three of the schemes are in Harrogate District. They are:

Oatlands Drive (£215,000)

Proper physically protected cycle tracks would be provided either side of Oatlands Drive, and the pavements would be made wider to give more space to pupils walking to St Aidan’s and St John Fisher schools. The road would be made one-way (south) for motor traffic to create the space needed, and a speed limit of 20mph applied.

Parallel pedestrian and cycle crossings would be provided where Slingsby Walk crosses Oatlands Drive and Wetherby Road, as well as where it meets Knaresborough Road. There would be a further crossing at the junction of Oatlands Drive and Hookstone Road.

Tiger crossing on the Canal Road cycleway, Bradford
Parallel crossing on the Canal Road cycleway, Bradford

One-way filters would be put in place at the junctions of two residential roads with Oatlands Drive, so drivers could turn from Oatlands Drive into St Winifed’s Drive, and out of St Hilda’s Road. The distance between these two junctions is about 60m, so any extra distance on car journeys as a result of the filters would be tiny, and it would be very surprising if anyone considered themselves inconvenienced. It would be quite selfish for someone to be more concerned about an extra 10s on their car journey than safe active travel for school children.

The Oatlands Drive scheme would help provide a safe cycle route between Hornbeam Park/Yorkshire Showground and the town centre, as well as from the Woodlands and Oatlands residential area to town. It would allow more pupils to get to St Aidan’s and St John Fisher schools by bike.

Acting Against Pollution, Climate Change, and Inactivity

Most of us know that we face the problems of air pollution, a rapidly changing climate, and diseases related to inactivity. We need to make changes. These are not just changes to be made by other people, somewhere else. It also means us, here.

Some changes might occasionally mean an extra few seconds on a car journey – a slight inconvenience. In exchange, you get safer walking and cycling for yourself, your family, and the children who go to local schools; less danger and pollution; and the knowledge that you’re contributing to making Harrogate a cleaner, greener town.

It’s time to decide: do you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?

A59 Knaresborough – Harrogate (£250,000)

Existing Knaresborough Road cycle path at Harrogate Golf Club
Existing Knaresborough Road cycle path at Harrogate Golf Club

Segregated on-road cycle tracks would be provided either side of the A59 between High Bridge, Knaresborough, and the Harrogate Golf Club at the edge of Starbeck.

Track width

Although the bid states that the width of the tracks is 1.5m, we’re told it is actually 2.0m.

This complies with newly published Cycle Infrastructure Design. P. 43, Table 5.2, Cycle lane and track widths says the ‘desirable minimum’ width is 2.0m. The absolute minimum is 1.5m, but this ‘…should only be used for sections where there is a physical constraint on an existing road’ (p. 42, para. 5.5.2).

Cycle lane and track widths in LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design
Table 5-2, Cycle lane ad track widths, Cycle Infrastructure Design

There should be a buffer between the cycle track and carriageway – at 40mph, the desirable minimum buffer is 1.0m and the absolute minimum 0.5m (Cycle Infrastructure Design, p. 54, Table 6-1).

Type of protection

The new Cycle Infrastructure Design states (para. 6.1.5, p. 50), ‘Stepped cycle tracks and light segregation are generally considered less suitable for urban highways with speed limits above 30mph.’

Figure 4.1, Cycle Infrastructure Design, appropriate protection
Figure 4.1, Cycle Infrastructure Design

NYCC’s bid document refers to ‘wands or similar’, but they tell us the protection will include reasonably robust rubber kerbing.

Kerb and wands as cycle lane protection
Kerb and wands as cycle lane protection

Crossings will also be improved at Forest Lane Head and Bilton Hall Drive, and a new pavement built.

Victoria Avenue (£250,000)

Segregated cycle infrastructure would be put in place on both sides of Victoria Avenue. The bid document says it is between Princes Square and Station Parade only (70m), but we’re told in fact it’s the whole length of Victoria Avenue.

The stated width is 1.5m. We believe the cycle infrastructure would be either a two-way track in the centre of Victoria Avenue, or tracks either side in between the kerb and parking.

Bike storage facilities would be provided.

There would be new crossing facilities at Belford Road and Parliament Street. (As there’s an existing crossing at Belford Road, presumably this means upgrading or replacing it).

Overall impression

We’re broadly positive about these schemes.

The bid document makes it appear that NYCC are treating 1.5m as the default width of a cycle track – whereas the new design guidance is clear that it can only be used in exceptional circumstances where the width of the road means there’s no alternative. We’re encouraged if, for the proposed A59 route at least, this has been revised to 2.0m.

We also have some doubts about using light segregation on the busy A59, even if the speed limit is reduced to 40mph. Rubber kerbing may be sufficient to achieve a good enough safety standard. We hope that there is communication between NYCC and the DfT to make sure any problems are ironed out.

The bid document says work can start in early January 2021. NYCC’s record on delivering active travel schemes (for example Otley Road, and even Beech Grove) has been really poor. We hope this will change. In any event, any money awarded under the EATF has to be spent in this financial year.

Further active travel suggestions

The deadline for the EATF bid has now passed, but North Yorkshire is still inviting active travel suggestions, which may be implemented with future funding.

EATF Tranche 2 bid

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