Harrogate councillors clash over whether more should be done to transform town into cycling haven

Lib Dems and Tories on council go head to head over spending money to make cycling safer in town

by Sarah Barth   March 14, 2014  

Harrogate calls for knitted bunting

Councillors in Harrogate have debated making the town a more cycle-friendly environment, but clashed over whether enough had been done to achieve it already.

Lib Dem representatives urged the authority to spend £50,000 on a feasibility study into creating a cycling town, while the Conservative contingent say plenty has been done already.

Conservative Richard Cooper said spending money on a study would only divert resources from projects that needed completing.

According to the Harrogate Advertiser, he said: “If we spend thousands on reports we cannot afford projects like resurfacing the Beryl Burton Cycleway,” after the Lib Dem councillor Helen Flynn proposed ambitious plans for Harrogate.

She told the council: “I have been working with the Sustrans office in Leeds to see how we can progress plans for making Harrogate into a cycle town and link it to Knaresborough.

“Government has been making funding available through different schemes for cycling initiatives for some time. But those authorities without a full feasibility plan for projects are always left at the bottom of the queue when it comes to funding allocation.

“If we are serious about wanting to become a proper cycle town, then we have to put our money where our mouth is and invest in a feasibility plan. It’s the vital first step.”

Councillor Cooper said: “I am not sure what to make of Councillor Flynn’s comments bearing in mind the enormous amount of investment we have seen in cycling over the last few years.

“Just look at what has been delivered – the Nidderdale Greenway opened after years of campaigning, the Beryl Burton Cycleway from Starbeck to Knaresborough resurfaced, a new Showground Greenway being constructed and new cycle storage facilities all around the town centre.

He added: “Since 2002 we have spent around £3.8m on cycling including formulating a Harrogate and Knaresborough Cycle Plan.

“We are spending £4m repairing roads surfaces in the preparations for the Tour de France. And let’s not forget that we won the Tour de France Grand Départ for Harrogate and Knaresborough.”

Dave Prince of the Cycle Harrogate group, behind the resurfacing of the Beryl Burton cycleway last year, said: “Harrogate as a bike town would be somewhere my eight-year-old son could ride around on his bike with me and the rest of the family. There are places where this can happen currently but after you have ridden to Ripley and down the Beryl Burton there aren’t that many others.

“Currently if he wants to ride on any of Harrogate’s main roads his dad would just laugh at him and tell him to keep watching the telly.”

Sustrans Yorkshire’s regional director David Hall said “Grants become very much easier to access when it can be seen that we have considered how the grant would be spent and its impact. Grant givers want to know what will happen and its importance. A survey is critical, everything starts with an assessment of what needs doing and if there is a lot of public support.

“What is the cost of doing nothing and living with congestion? What is the cost of pollution? What is the cost of car dependency?”

One reader commented online: “The comments from Conservative Councillor Richard Cooper are complacent and misleading.



“Resurfacing the Beryl Burton was a bare minimum, and North Yorks CC did it with extreme reluctance, being pushed into it by CycleHarrogate amongst others.

“The Nidderdale Greenway is good, and I hope the Yorkshire Showground Greenway will be as well. But two isolated pieces of infrastructure do not make Harrogate a cycling town - obviously. In the Netherlands, people use their bikes because they know they can get everywhere on them.

It's not the same saying to people, 'it'll be safe provided you want to go from point A to point B by route C, but nowhere else.

'
"The Harrogate & Knaresborough Cycling Plan is pretty rubbish. It identifies routes as cycling routes which are not at all cycle-friendly - for example, Forest Moor Rd, which is narrow, has not cycle path, and you can guarantee a large number of drivers will squeeze past you way too close.



“It's outrageous of the councillor to claim that resurfacing roads is a cycling measure. Harrogate councillors shouldn't be taking credit for winning the Tour de France, when they had nothing to do with it.”

Last month we reported how the council had campaigned for people around the world to knit tiny woollen jerseys to use as bunting around the town when the Tour de France comes to visit.

We reported how the council and a local knitting shop had come up with the plan - which has since gone viral worldwide.

The council has recieved 3,000 tiny knited jerseys in traditional colours, made by volunteers, and have been inundated with nearly 8,000 pledges - from as far afield as Austria, Bermuda, Canada, France, the Channel Islands, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

9 user comments

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Quote:
It's outrageous of the councillor to claim that resurfacing roads is a cycling measure.

Hmmm Thinking

seven's picture

posted by seven [108 posts]
15th March 2014 - 11:04

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Interestingly, Harrogate has more immediate potential to become a cycle town than other Northern conurbations. Several good cycle routes radiate out from the town. Extensive in town cycle routes are often badly mapped / signed and sadly disconnected. There is plenty of space in the heart of the town. A high % of leisure cyclists suggest that with a few infrastructure improvements cycling could become a viable and popular way to access the town centre, schools and employment areas. Assuming any proposals are going to exceed current budgets, outside funding will be required and Sustran's David Hall confirms that demands a proper survey and report rather than something on the back of a fag packet ........

posted by simon.thornton [13 posts]
15th March 2014 - 20:35

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Quote:
It's outrageous of the councillor to claim that resurfacing roads is a cycling measure.
Hmmm

Never mind hmm. Ok a better road surface will be a better for everyone including cyclists, but it's not a cycle-specific measure. If they were going to resurface the roads and take the opportunity to give us decent cycle lanes, maybe separated by 'armadillos', that would be a cycling measure. As it is, it's just resurfacing the roads.

posted by HarrogateSpa [88 posts]
15th March 2014 - 23:04

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I find all of this laughable, anybody who cycles into Harrogate is faced with horrendous road surfaces which force the cyclist towards the centre of the road, yes there has been investment in into some info-structure but its all cycle-ways which are not connected and are not suitable for any form of cycling apart from social family riding and walkers with their dogs.

The council are not adding anything for the vast majority of cyclist who are not out pottering around with their kids, yes I use the cycle-ways with my young kids, its great, but almost all of my riding is with mates/club runs and we have nothing !

When they decide to actually put a cycle lane it always ends in the most dangerous place possible.

Bottom line is Harrogate is worst today for a cyclist than it was 20 years ago, what saddens me is their attitude is... we resurfaced a cycle-way that's used more my walkers than cyclists and therefore have a look at how well we are doing, actually you are doing an absolute rubbish job and your attitude stinks, come and spend some time with real cyclists, cycle down Leeds Road and see how lovely an experience that is.

posted by mikeprytherch [217 posts]
16th March 2014 - 14:16

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Being a regular cyclist in knaresborough & Harrogate I can see little justification for Councillor Cooper's comments. As others have said most of what they claim as cycling specific spending is not. The fact is that new traffic lights on the already busy Leeds Road have been designed without any consideration to the needs of cyclists. Existing traffic lights do nut pick up cycles and often allow insufficient time for cyclists to get through leading to confrontation with drivers. Sadly Harrogate is a snobbish town filled with aggressively driven expensive cars.

Richard

posted by RichardHG5 [4 posts]
16th March 2014 - 15:00

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How does it cost 50k ?.

Why dont they get one of the local schools on an afternoon with a set of questions and ask the public what they think instead of paying someone to do the same thing.

As for the questions they can set something up online for question suggestions. It's not rocket science At Wits End

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2698 posts]
16th March 2014 - 16:31

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stumps wrote:
How does it cost 50k?
Biscuits?

Sustrans chap wrote:
Grants become very much easier to access when it can be seen that we have considered how the grant would be spent and its impact. Grant givers want to know what will happen and its importance. A survey is critical, everything starts with an assessment of what needs doing and if there is a lot of public support.

What is the cost of doing nothing and living with congestion? What is the cost of pollution? What is the cost of car dependency?

I stand corrected. Posh biscuits.

posted by Argos74 [287 posts]
16th March 2014 - 17:58

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Old, fat councillors who haven't cycled since they were 8 in "know feck all about cycling" shocker. I like how they brag about spending £3.8M on cycling in 12 years and in the very next sentence state they've spend £4M on resurfacing roads just recently.

Harrogate is a lovely town blighted by huge roads full of tourists in wheezy French diesel cars. Lose the cars, make the place cycle friendly, enrich the local economy.

posted by Peowpeowpeowlasers [64 posts]
16th March 2014 - 18:18

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stumps wrote:
How does it cost 50k ?.

Why dont they get one of the local schools on an afternoon with a set of questions and ask the public what they think instead of paying someone to do the same thing.

As for the questions they can set something up online for question suggestions. It's not rocket science At Wits End

I imagine such a report would involve pricing up proposed measures, prioritising options, consideration of what measures are feasible where, whether it affects utilities, the impact of removing certain existing facilities, such as turning lanes, parking etc.

Generally speaking, if you ask the general public in the UK what they want for cycling, they'll ask for shared-use facilities, because they haven't seen what else can be achieved. And then when they have to give way at every side road, and dodge lampposts and trees and pedestrians, and dismount at every large junction, they won't use them.

posted by HKCambridge [128 posts]
17th March 2014 - 16:44

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