Last updated 19th January 2022
This is an assessment of cycle provision in Harrogate District. It is intended to provide local knowledge to Active Travel England (ATE) when it assesses provision here.
We would like ATE to assess North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) as soon as possible. Provision for cycling in Harrogate District is poor and progress is very slow. Worse, new housing developments are being built without making proper provision for active travel.
There are some hopeful signs and promising projects, but over recent years there has been a lot of talk and many broken promises.
Perhaps the biggest problem is a negative attitude to active travel embedded deep in the culture of NYCC, and an near-exclusive focus on cars.
In the sections that follow, we set out the issues. We have tried to be very fair, and to mention positives as well as negatives.
Length of time it takes for lights to change. Systems of 5 sets of lights, all set up for motor vehicles with no regard to the interests of people who are not in cars.
Crossing of Otley Road near West End Avenue.
The key test will be action and results. Will we continue to get promises which are then broken? Will there be a lot of talk and reports, but nothing to show in terms of actual improvements to the cycle network? Or does NYCC have the will to commit funding and resources to make active travel projects happen in a reasonable timescale?
Meanwhile major road projects are given huge resources. They include:
- J47 of the A1M, in partnership with Highways England and the City of York. This increase capacity for motor vehicles to access the motorway. 49% of Harrogate District’s CO2 emissions are from road transport, and it is certain that this project will increase them. NYCC says it plans to become carbon negative by 2030, but it is actively working to increase its main source of greenhouse gases
- Kex Gill realignment
- Killinghall Bypass. This was specifically rejected by the Congestion Survey, yet NYCC are committing funds to proceed with it. The word ‘bypass’ is not accurate, as in reality it is a project to double road capacity north of Harrogate. Killinghall would not be bypassed and left as a calm village – it would still have a busy main road through it. It’s just that there would be another main road on a slightly different route in addition.
3) Congestion Survey
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.
A large part of the blame for this failure must lie with the Executive Member for Access, Councillor Don Mackenzie.
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