£4k raised already from local people and businesses for study into how to encourage cycling and improve facilities in N Yorks borough

A local councillor is urging people and companies in and around Harrogate to help pay for a Sustrans feasibility study into making it better for cycling – believed to be the first time the funding for such a study has been crowdsourced. The move comes after Harrogate Borough Council declined to fund it.

According to the Harrogate Advertiser, councillors voted against commissioning the study, which would cost £15,000 to carry out, but which Sustrans says would make future funding applications easier for the council.

Besides Harrogate itself, which on 5 July hosts the finish of Stage 1 of the Tour de France, the 505 square miles governed by the local authority includes towns such as Ripon and Knaresborough, as well as rural areas including Nidderdale.

Council's cycling champion: money not there now

The council’s cycling champion, John Ennis, the Conservative councillor for Low Harrogate, said that the borough’s new forum could address the same issues as might be included in the Sustrans report.

“We have had our first meeting and we are pooling our expertise and planning to do a feasibility assessment ourselves,” he explained. “I think it is a good group, we have a lot of different expertise.

“I am not saying we won’t need a study at some point but not at the moment and the money isn’t there right now.”

Crowdfunding the cash

However another councillor, the Liberal Democrat Councillor Helen Flynn, who represents Nidd Valley, is determined to find the cash to pay for it – and has turned to crowdfunding.

“What is exciting about this project is that it is the first time that a project of this type has been crowd sourced and it is particularly exciting as the Tour de France is upon us,” she said.

“There really never has been a better time to launch this kind of initiative, and it promises to eventually give us a strong legacy of utility cycling from the Tour having visited us.”

Congested Harrogate

To date, £4,000 of the target has been raised and Councillor Flynn is urging people and businesses in the area, which has a population of around 160,000 people, to contribute.

“Anyone who lives or works in Harrogate is well aware of traffic congestion around the town,” she went on.

“It is also the case that over 80 per cent of traffic in Harrogate is local. Most damning of all, we also have one of the lowest rates of young people cycling to school in the country”

Councillor Flynn added: “I feel it is important that as a town we do have an ambitious and joined up approach as to how we can achieve the aim of becoming a cycling town.”

Dutch-style infrastructure

Among the local businesses to have already contributed is a Kempston-Parkes Chartered Surveyors, whose managing director, Andrew Kempston-Parkes, said: “This hopefully will be the beginning of a lasting legacy for the Harrogate District.”

Malcolm Margolis of cycle group Wheel Easy said he hoped the study could lead to Harrogate getting some Dutch-style infrastructure.

Anyone wishing to contribute should contact helen?ynn [at] me.com (ynn [at] me.com) .

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.