Birmingham Blue Route
Birmingham Blue Route

We hope that LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design can have a transformative impact in Harrogate District, but that will only happen if it is applied, not ignored.

We produced a Summary of 24 Key Points for NYCC, and 3 Key Points for HBC.

Around this time (October 2020), NYCC told us at a Cycle Forum meeting that they were aware of LTN 1/20, and that it would be considered in all new work. That is very different from having read it and being committed to applying it.

‘We are aware of LTN 1/20 and will consider it in all new work.’

NYCC in October 2020

Subsequently, the usual pattern of responses from NYCC officers when asked to apply LTN 1/20 was to:

  1. cast doubt on whether LTN 1/20 applies in North Yorkshire
  2. question the authority of the document (‘it’s only guidance’)
  3. focus on a word or phrase in the relevant paragraph of LTN 1/20 (‘should’, ‘normally’, ‘preferably’, ‘try to’) and use that to claim that the provision is optional and can be ignored
  4. do whatever they wanted to do originally without reference to LTN 1/20

We raised this with Corporate Director Karl Battersby. He committed NYCC to LTN 1/20 – but words are meaningless unless backed up with action. In practice, as soon as there are difficult choices to be made, LTN 1/20 is thrown overboard. Examples include:

Another very disappointing feature of NYCC’s approach, is the use of LTN 1/20 as an excuse for inaction:

  • we would have liked to build cycle infrastructure here, but because it would have to be to LTN 1/20 standards, we don’t have the budget
  • we would have like to build cycle infrastructure here, but because it would have to be to LTN 1/20 standards, there isn’t enough space

3.1) Positives

3.1.1) Harrogate Station Gateway

Harrogate Station Gateway has been designed broadly in line with LTN 1/20. We have confidence in this scheme and the dedicated Transforming Cities team running it. Station Gateway is hugely important to Harrogate, and if it did not go ahead the active travel programme would be mortally wounded.

3.1.2) ATF2 Scheme on Victoria Road

The ATF T2 scheme on Victoria Avenue is also broadly LTN 1/20-compliant. The problem here is delivery by the Area team: construction should have been complete by 31st March 2022 but at the time of writing (August 2022) it has not started and there is no credible timetable in place.

3.1.3) NYCC LTN 1/20 Booklet

NYCC has produced an internal booklet that summarises the principles and provisions of LTN 1/20. It is fine – but the problem is that officers do not apply it.

3.1.4) Officer Working on the LCWIP Zone Plans

The officer with whom we have been working on our Harrogate Cycle Infrastructure Zone Plans has clearly taken the time to read and understand LTN 1/20, and in his work he applies it in good faith.

It makes a world of difference to work with someone who is not cynical and negative, but is diligent and positive.

3.2) Negatives

3.2.1) Beech Grove

Beech Grove modal filters were put in under an ETRO in February 2021. This was the only LTN 1/20-compliant scheme in the whole of North Yorkshire.

In August 2022, it is being taken out with no evidence report and no consultation – in breach of LTN 1/20 and NYCC’s Network Management Duty.

NYCC’s conduct in this instance is appalling and irresponsible.

3.2.2) Otley Road Cycleway

There are constraints on Otley Road that mean the cycleway would always have involved compromises, but Phase 1 has not been designed in line with LTN 1/20 so far as possible.

Summary Principle 2, LTN 1/20
Summary Principle 2, LTN 1/20

Cycles have not been treated as vehicles, since this route is largely shared use. The one change from previous NYCC shared use pavements is that there are cycle tracks across minor side roads.

Core Design Principle in LTN 1/20 that cycle routes should be Direct
Core Design Principle in LTN 1/20 that cycle routes should be Direct

The cycleway is not Direct at major traffic-light controlled junctions like those with Arthur’s Avenue, Pannal Ash Road, and Harlow Moor Road – neither in distance nor in time. Cyclists are sent a short way up the junction side roads to wait with pedestrians at Toucans, while motor vehicles going straight on get a direct route and the lion’s share of green time.

Para. 6.1.9, LTN 1/20
Para. 6.1.9, LTN 1/20

Space for cycling should be created by reallocating carriageway space, not reducing the level of service for pedestrians. At the Harlow Moor Road junction, however, a large amount of extra space has been allocated to motor vehicles, leaving cyclists and pedestrians crammed together in shared use space that is far less than the minimum in LTN 1/20.

In effect, the Area team has treated the Otley Road/Harlow Moor Road changes as primarily a road capacity expansion project, with woeful quality shared use crossing facilities tacked on.

Table 5-2, LTN 1/20
Table 5-2, LTN 1/20

The minimum widths in the guidance have been consistently ignored on Otley Road. None of the dedicated stretches of cycle track reaches even the Absolute Minimum width.

NYCC’s stated attitude has been that they designed Phase 1 of the Otley Road Cycleway a long time ago, so it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t meet LTN 1/20 standards. Our view is that a local authority should want to design and build the best cycle infrastructure possible, to modern standards.

This is backed up by Section 1 Question 8 of the Active Travel England self-assessment:

ATE Self-Assessment, Section 1 Question 8
ATE Self-Assessment, Section 1 Question 8

See our review of Phase 1 of Otley Road Cycleway.

3.2.3) J47 A1M

Around £10 million has been spent on increasing capacity at J47 of the A1M. NYCC is simply replicating the pre-existing narrow shared use path around the roundabout at the junction. The problems are:

  • it’s far narrower than minimum widths in LTN 1/20
  • it’s not connected to a network, so does not serve a cycling purpose

It is dispiriting to see that no thought whatever has gone into enabling active travel as part of this huge and expensive project. This could have been used as the opportunity to start creating a Harrogate-York cycle route.

Once again, the excuse for ignoring LTN 1/20 is ‘we designed this a long time ago’.

3.3) More Examples

There are many examples of North Yorkshire officers’ attitude to LTN 1/20, but here are two.

3.3.1) Paths in Housing Estates

Summary Principle 2, LTN 1/20
Summary Principle 2, LTN 1/20

Paths through housing estates should separate cyclists from pedestrians with levels or a kerb.

North Yorkshire development control officers jump on the word “try” in order to claim that this provision is meaningless and they do not have to follow it. This is not a good-faith interpretation of LTN 1/20.

At the Redrow development north of Kingsley Drive, they have refused to ask developers to separate cyclists and pedestrians with levels or a kerb.

This also applies to all new housing estates, where paths are shared use with no separation.

Shared path along front of A59 Skipton Road housing development
Shared path along front of A59 Skipton Road housing development

The other major issue with the path shown above is that it does not lead anywhere. It doesn’t even connect the vast new housing estate on the A59 Skipton Road to the nearest local shops at Oakbeck Park.

There is a limit to what we can say about the big West Harrogate urban expansion, but early indications are that:

  • there are lots of warm words about active travel
  • when it comes to the detail, the transport strategy is all about motor vehicles, and increasing capacity for them at junctions in the area while entirely disregarding the needs of active travel
  • any cycle infrastructure within the developments will not be to LTN 1/20 standards
  • the developers and officers involved appear to be set on providing shared use pavements on Otley Road, while inaccurately claiming that there is not enough space for footways and dedicated cycle tracks

3.3.2) Cycling in Mixed Traffic and 20mph

Para 7.1.1 LTN 1/20
Para 7.1.1 LTN 1/20

Para. 7.1.1 of LTN 1/20 says that

  • 2,500 vehicles per day and
  • a speed of 20mph

are the desirable upper limits for cycling in mixed traffic.

North Yorkshire refuses to accept that ’20mph’ in the guidance means 20mph. According to officers, the use of the word ‘desirable’ indicates that “one size does not always fit all”. Therefore cycling in mixed traffic is appropriate at whatever speed North Yorkshire decides.

Again, this is not a good-faith interpretation of the guidance. It amounts to performing logical contortions in order to strip the guidance of any meaning so that North Yorkshire can disregard its provisions.

We would like officers to be straight with us. Claiming to apply LTN 1/20, while in reality ignoring its provisions, corrodes trust.

In reality, NYCC’s 20mph policy is not consistent with LTN 1/20 and needs to be changed.

3.4) Summary

In summary, NYCC are aware of LTN 1/20, and make reference to it in their statements and documents. It is genuinely being applied in the Station Gateway project, and on the ATF2 scheme on Victoria Avenue (if it ever progresses).

On a day-to-day basis, as soon as there are difficult choices to be made, LTN 1/20 is jettsioned. Unless NYCC are forced to apply LTN 1/20, they will continue to prioritise motor vehicles, and as a result cycle infrastructure will be well below the minimum standards.

1) Introduction

This is the home page of the Active Travel England section, which contains the Introduction and links to all other pages in the section.

2) Attitude of the Highways Authority

Notes on the attitude of the highways authority, North Yorkshire County Council, and the way they approach active travel.

3) Cycle Infrastructure Design

The impact of LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design in Harrogate, and the way it is applied (or not) by NYCC officers.

4) Housing Development

The active travel disaster zone that is recent and ongoing housing development in Harrogate District.

5) Projects

A brief overview of some current projects in Harrogate District, including Otley Road Cycleway and Station Gateway.

6) Junctions

This section highlights the issues which have not been addressed at four important junctions.

7) LCWIP

An analysis of the Harrogate & Knaresborough LCWIP, how (if) it is being used in practice to inform bids for fuding, and the work we are doing to try to make it more comprehensive.

8) Network Management Duty, School Streets, and 20mph

While other local authorities are forging ahead, there are no School Streets in Harrogate District. Insufficient progress is being made on the other actions to promote active travel set out in Network Management Duty guidance.

9) Congestion Survey

The 2019 Congestion Survey and the mandate it gave NYCC to pursue an active travel agenda. This section also includes a brief look at TfN's Decarbonisation Strategy, the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission's Climate Action Plan, and the York and N Yorkshire Emissions Reduction Pathways.

10) Solutions

Solutions to the problems with NYCC's active travel programme.