Here is HDCA’s correspondence with Councillor Michael Harrison, about cycle routes between Killinghall and Harrogate.
Letter to Councillor Harrison, 15th October 2020
The letter explains the point Michael Harrison claims not to understand – that in theory, active travel should be prioritised, but no infrastructure is built; and infrastructure for motor vehicles is built regardless of the cost.
Email from Councillor Harrison, 4th October 2020
Thanks David. I don’t see the point in organising a public meeting in the village – as it would raise expectations of residents unfairly. NYCC have prioritised various suggested schemes to try and bid for funding. I’m disappointed that the B6161 idea is a low priority, but I can see the logic.
I don’t understand what the new roundabout at the end of Crowberry Drive has to do with this. It was a perfectly reasonable requirement for that development?
HDCA Email, 20th September 2020
I give the Councillor my full name, and explain the nature of Harrogate District Cycle Action in case he hasn’t heard of us. I explain (again) that a number of Killinghall residents who are our Supporters have asked for active travel routes between Harrogate and Killinghall. I explain (again) that we’re asking him to help make them happen as a priority.
Email from Councillor Harrison, 20th September 2020
He seems to claim that the reason he hasn’t replied is that he doesn’t know the exact identity of the person he’s corresponding with.
HDCA Email, 15th September 2020
Are you able to reply to my email of 6th August 2020?
HDCA Letter, 6th August 2020
Thanks for your message. I can see you’ve been trying and found it very difficult. That’s the pattern where active travel and North Yorkshire County Council are concerned.
Cycling & walking the natural choices for short journeys
Since the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy in 2017, the government has said that it wants cycling and walking to be the natural choices for short journeys.
Now we have the new Gear Change report, which states (p26): ‘We will ensure that all new housing and business developments are built around making sustainable travel, including cycling and walking, the first choice for journeys’.
That’s the theory, but it simply isn’t happening in practice.
(In this context, I have to mention your party’s new proposals to effectively abolish planning permission. They are highly unlikely to improve the situation. I would hope that you and other party members exert as much pressure as possible to ensure that these ideas aren’t a total disaster in their final form).
I note what you say about cost, but I see that road alterations for cars just happen. For example, how much did the roundabout by new housing on the A59 opposite Jennyfields cost? Apparently money is no object for motor transport – the type we don’t want to encourage, in theory – but the travel we do want to encourage is just too expensive.
Whatever the complexities of the process, this is why people lose faith in the system – because action doesn’t reflect words.
I would also point out that cost estimates for schemes can vary wildly. In North Yorkshire’s EATF T2 schemes, there are two options for active travel improvements to Oatlands Drive – one highly-engineered version costing £1.4 million, and another using cheaper materials for £60,000-211,000.
If £400,000 is too expensive, can we ask North Yorkshire to come up with a different, cheaper scheme? The key thing would be to get something done, not simply accept their estimate and shelve the whole project for another 5 years.
Desire for change
There’s an urgency to this due to local pollution, diseases of inactivity, and global heating. Most people understand that and want change. 77% of respondents to last year’s Harrogate Congestion Survey asked for better walking and cycling infrastructure, but since then we’ve seen nothing – absolutely no change. It’s not good enough. The primary responsibility must be on North Yorkshire County Council as the Highways Authority, and it is failing Harrogate District residents.
Another option would be to create a protected cycleway either side of the A61. This idea is endorsed by the DfT-commissioned Rapid Cycleway Prioritisation Tool. You’ll see that the A61 between the New Park roundabout and the Royal Hall is a top-ranked route for a new cycleway, and New Park to Killinghall is recommended to make a cohesive network.
I suggest both Otley Road and the A61 so people can travel by bike whatever part of Harrogate they are visiting.
Is it worth setting up a meeting with Killinghall residents, HBC Planning, and NYCC Area 6, to see if rapid progress can be made? (Perhaps it could be outdoors in Killinghall). There would have to be an ambitious timetable to get routes built – say by the end of 2020. Otherwise experience shows that these things drag on for years with no action.
Letter from Councillor Michael Harrison, Member for Killinghall & Hampsthwaite Ward, 2nd August 2020
Thanks for the email.
I’ve been pushing for a link from Killinghall village along the B6161 to the A59 for a number of years. The last improvement along this stretch was when the footpath from the edge of the village to the junction with Lund Lane was kerbed.
When the most recent development north of the A59 was going through the planning process I tried to get a s106 agreement to provide a link from what will be the junction of the development on the B6161 (north of the roundabout) to Lund Lane as there would then be a route down through the new development to the A59, but I was unsuccessful.
Earlier in July I also looked to see if this route would be eligible for funding from the office of the PFCC, as they have recently launched a road safety funding scheme, but unfortunately it is ineligible.
I have more recently formerly submitted this idea as part of the development of NYCC’s cycling and walking strategy, and I know it is on the list.
Seperately, as context I did get transport officers from NYCC to give me an informal assessment of providing a link. They advised that a new cycle track (minimum 2.5m wide) would probably require some land purchase on a couple of pinch points, and involve installing kerbing. High level estimates for approx. 1km of footway would be of the order of £250k and for a cycle track closer to £400k (not including any utilities works, which are suspected as there are man-hole covers).
So I am absolutely supportive of this scheme, but at the same time am mindful about the amount of funding that might be needed to deliver it – so do not want to raise expectations. That said, I am pleased that others such as yourself recognise the potential for this relatively short link as it all helps build a case.
Letter from HDCA to Councillor Harrison, 1st August 2020
Dear Mr Harrison,
We’re collecting ideas for active travel routes from Harrogate District Cycle Action (HDCA) members, and there have been a number of well-argued comments on our Killinghall & Hampsthwaite page. We’ve included a section on Killinghall in the Newsletter we sent out today.
Killinghall residents who would like to travel by bike are cut off from Harrogate because of the hostile conditions on the roads created by heavy traffic. They’d like a bike path along the B6161 Otley Road to the Old Spring Well pub.
It’s government policy that cycling and walking should be the natural choice for short, local journeys. Cycling is the obvious choice for Killinghall-Harrogate. It’s now time to remove the disconnect between theory and practice, and make this a priority.
Could you tell us if you’ll take steps to make this happen, and set out a timetable?
Please let us have a reply that we can give to our Supporters in Killinghall, and publish on our website.