Sustrans has developed a draft plan for what it calls “a sympathetic restoration” of the old railway line between Scarborough and Whitby which will be put forward for consideration by Scarborough Borough Council. Thousands of people have signed a petition against widening the track, feeling that such work would destroy the character of the route, fundamentally altering how it is used.
Over 3,300 people have signed Help Save Our Cinder Track! which also raises concern about plans to add an asphalt surface.
“Sustrans, who are predominantly a cycling organisation, also intend to promote the path to commuter cyclists,” the petition reads. “The width and surface of the track will attract road bikes and cyclists who wish to speed, and this has serious safety implications for current users, who include ramblers, families, leisure cyclists, horse riders and dog walkers.”
The latest Sustrans plan features broad principles for improving the track in relation to drainage, path construction, vegetation, vehicle use and improved multi-user access.
Rupert Douglas, Sustrans Network Development Manager for Yorkshire, commented:
“We are very clear that a tarmac surface is not suitable and is not appropriate for the whole 21.5 miles, so we have provided information about alternative surface options for consideration at sensitive locations such as in the North York Moors National Park. There’ll need to be more consultation with local communities about these options in more detail as part of the planning process.
“We feel that sympathetically restoring the track to a high quality and all weather, user-friendly route for all while preserving the habitat the route provides for flora and fauna will give the local community an asset to enjoy and be proud of. It will also have a very positive impact on the visitor economy of the Yorkshire coast in the long term.”
A steering group made up of the North York Moors National Park Authority, Friends of the Old Railway, Gateway Whitby, Scarborough Borough Council and Sustrans has been involved in the plan’s development.
Sustrans says the group has taken into account the views of more than 1,000 people who took part in an online consultation earlier this year, although local resident Pete Tomkins, who founded bike accessories firm Crud and who has signed the petition, has suggested that plans, “go a bit beyond what any reasonable person would consider to be 'improvements'.”
Scarborough Borough Council will present the draft plan to its Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration and comment next month.