This is an assessment of cycle provision in Harrogate District by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) in the context of the DfT’s Decarbonising Transport Plan and Cycle Infrastructure Design (CID). It is intended to provide local knowledge to Active Travel England (ATE) when it assesses provision here.
We would like ATE to assess NYCC as soon as possible, because provision for cycling in Harrogate District is poor. Worse, new housing developments are being built without making proper provision for active travel.
General attitude of the Highways Authority
The Minister’s Foreword to Cycle Infrastructure Design says that ‘cycling must no longer be treated as marginal, or an afterthought’, but often that is exactly how it is treated by NYCC.
NYCC often has a very negative attitude to requests for crossings, faster responses from pedestrian lights, safer speed limits, School Streets, and cycle provision. Requests for 20mph limits are all rebuffed. Safe crossings near schools are refused on the basis that motorists might not see them and so might not stop.
Investment, officer time, and political capital are all overwhelmingly invested in provision for motor traffic, not in active travel.
On 9th May 2020, the Secretary of State instructed councils to give more space and priority to cycling and walking. At the time of writing (mid-October 2020), NYCC has done nothing – nothing – for cycling. Nothing at all. There has been a token gesture for walking in Harrogate town centre.
NYCC did produce some good designs for EATF Tranche 2, which is encouraging. For a number of years, there have been encouraging ideas and plans which have produced no result, and so we no longer believe what we’re told. Action is needed now, not words.
NYCC held a Congestion Survey for Harrogate and Knaresborough. It asked residents about a proposal for a so-called relief road – a bypass from north to east Harrogate. The bypass was decisively rejected, with 70% of 15,500 respondents strongly disagreeing with the proposal.
The Survey asked respondents about a number of other measures to combat congestion. 77% were in favour of better cycling & walking infrastructure.
The Congestion Survey results were published in August 2019. We feel that there should have been a response from NYCC – a commitment to implement the measures respondents said they wanted, with a timetable.
In fact, there has been no attempt to implement the conclusions of the Survey. Indeed, NYCC’s immediate response was to suggest another bypass road, this one from west to south Harrogate.
We are left with the distinct impression that the Congestion Survey gave the “wrong” answer, and it is therefore being ignored.
Cycle Infrastructure Design
HDCA produced a summary of 24 Key Points about CID for NYCC, with local examples of bad and good cycle infrastructure. We wanted to be sure that Councillors and officers were familiar with it and would apply it in future schemes.
We were told by NYCC (at a Cycle Forum meeting in late October 2020) that all officers “were aware of” LTN1/20, and that it “will be considered” in all new work. That is very different from officers having read it, and a commitment to ensure NYCC standards conform to it so that it is applied in all future schemes.
Links to documents
These are some of the relevant documents:
- HDCA’s submission on Decarbonising Transport (April 2020) was in response to the DfT’s Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge document includes information about and photos of local cycle infrastructure
- Cycle Infrastructure Design for NYCC (October 2020) is intended to inform NYCC about CID and includes local examples of poor and good provision
- Cycle Infrastructure Design for HBC (October 2020) is intended to inform HBC about CID and includes local examples of cycle provision associated with new housing developments
A number of housing developments have just been built or are being built at the time of writing (October 2020) on the edge of Harrogate. Cycle provision is woeful or non-existent; the developments are totally car-centric, and will exacerbate existing congestion and pollution problems in Harrogate.
A few case studies follow, with specfic information about certain developments.
King Edwin Park, Persimmon Homes, Penny Pot Lane
This development on the western edge of Harrogate is a little far from key destinations for walking to be a routine option. It’s within easy cycling distance; it’s hilly, but electric bikes make this less of a problem.
Penny Pot Lane is a narrow and twisty lane which is used as an alternative to the A59 Skipton Road. Levels of traffic are quite high. The speed limit changes from 50 to 40 to 30mph as the road approaches Harrogate.
The only cycle infrastructure is a shared use pavement (2m70) for a very short distance from the development to Young’s Drive. It then stops, and there is no cycle infrastructure for the next stretch towards Harrogate. The road is not suitable for inclusive cycling in mixed traffic due to the high volume of vehicles.
The other cycle path is a mud and gravel affair through Killinghall Country Park to the Jennyfield housing area on the north western periphery of Harrogate. There are a couple of trip generators here (Jennyfield Coop and Hydro swimming pool), but the main destinations (schools, town centre shopping) are accessed via Penny Pot Lane.
The development has not involved any improvement to the cycle network. It is 99.9% car-centric.
More details are in this correspondence with Harrogate Borough Council.
Dunlopillo site in Pannal (Bellway)
A59 Skipton Road development
There is a large housing development on the A59 opposite the Jennyfield area, on the northern edge of Harrogate. A shared use path runs along the front of the development; there is a signal-controlled crossing, and on the opposite side of the road the pavement is divided into cycling and walking by a white line. Both of these are Paths to Nowhere – they don’t go anywhere, and simply stop.
An obvious destination from this development is Oak Beck Park, with a DIY store and supermarket – but there is no bike path, and the road you have to take to get there is the busy and hostile A59.
When you get to Oak Beck Park, there is a 13 metre long shared use path, with a CYCLISTS DISMOUNT sign at one end and an END OF ROUTE sign at the other. Rarely has there been a more isolated and useless facility.
Beyond Oak Beck Park are more destinations (schools, town centre) along A59 Skipton Road and A61 towards Harrogate, but few people will access them by bike because there is no cycle route.
The only cycle route in the vicinity is alongside Jennyfield Drive, but:
- a single route is not a network
- it fails the ‘Direct’ Core Design Principle for many destinations
- the route itself is not in line with CID guidance, as it is a shared pavement divided by a white line, and it gives way at all minor side roads
The Follifoot junction is a problem on National Cycle Network Route 67, where it crosses the A658 south eastern bypass to Follifoot. (Route 67 can be seen on this map). The bypass severed the older Pannal Road link to Follifoot.
In 2013, Harrogate Rugby Club moved to a site just on the Harrogate side of the A658. It was a planning condition that the developer would improve the Follifoot Underpass, as a way of crossing the A658. Instead, £10,000 was paid to NYCC, then passed to HBC, and they were to do the work.
After 7 years of going round and round in circles, some work was finally done on the Underpass. It had been very muddy and waterlogged. Some drainage was added, and a fairly soft, crushed stone surface that is likely to deteriorate quickly – especially as the Follifoot riding school is adjacent to the Underpass and uses it routinely.
On the Follifoot side of the Underpass, there’s a 60-90cm wide mud and gravel path, which has not been improved. The Underpass also represents a detour for cyclists.
The real solution would be a light-controlled crossing of the A658, but NYCC currently refuses to do this. The details of the problems with the junction, and the solution, are set out in this Follifoot document.
The story of this junction is representative of NYCC’s approach to active travel in two ways:
- delay – 7 years of delay to carry out basic work on the Follifoot Underpass, even when a sum paid by the developer was being held
- failure to make proper provision for cycling – a focus on motorised transport only, with no priority or investment in quality provision for walking and cycling