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Cycling group slams "nonsense" proposal that suggests 1.3m 'murder strip' cycle lane against flow of traffic in Harrogate

Despite the Government outlining that unsegregated infrastructure and contraflow lanes on busy streets would not be funded, North Yorkshire County Council has fallen very short with some of its proposals

Would you fancy riding against the direction of general traffic in a dedicated cycle lane that is 1.3 metres wide, with no physical protection? That is one of the proposals made by North Yorkshire County Council in a consultation on active travel for a road in Harrogate, with a local cycling group describing the contraflow cycle lane suggestion as "dangerous" with no benefits for active travel. 

> "Omnishambles" Bristol cycle lane fenced off just one week after opening

Despite scrapping Harrogate's first LTN on Beech Grove earlier this year (shown in the image above), Area 6 of North Yorkshire County Council launched a consultation on active travel measures earlier this week, that is set to close on 28th November and could possibly see modal filters reinstated if the council decide to go with option 1 of their proposals; option 2, however, is a very different story, and would potentially make cycling in the area even more dangerous than it currently is, according to Harrogate District Cycle Action (HDCA). 

The first option, that HDCA describes as "excellent", would see a modal filter on Beech Grove and the adjacent Lancaster Road, while a nearby junction would be no entry to southbound traffic to prevent drivers heading away from town using it as a through-route, or 'rat run'. 

beech grove illustration - harrogate district cycle action
An illustration of the "nonsense" section option (Harrogate District Cycle Action)

The second option would make Beech Grove one-way for motor traffic heading away from Harrogate town centre, with space for parked cars on the left and cyclists travelling in the other direction on the right (or the left, for the cyclists squeezed into a 1.3m cycle lane). Cyclists heading southbound would be expected to share the road with traffic, as is the current situation. 

HDCA describes the narrow width of the contraflow lane as a "murder strip in the gutter", and says the road is not wide enough for car parking, a general traffic lane and a contraflow cycle lane. 

"Option 2 is nonsense, and should not be presented as an option at all in this consultation," adds the HDCA.

"It provides zero benefit to active travel – indeed, it may make matters worse.

"We have pointed this out on multiple occasions going back to 2020 but Area 6 have not listened."

Though this proposal may never see the light of day, it's perhaps concerning that those responsible for the consultation were either unaware or willing to disregard the Government's Gear Change strategy and more detailed LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance. 

> Bike lane where two cyclists have been killed in recent months does not comply with minimum safety standards, council warned last year

In its response to the proposal, HDCA quotes the relevant parts of LTN 1/20 that says cycle lanes "less than 1.5m wide should not normally be used", and that cycle lanes with no physical protection should be considered "unacceptable" when referring to the northbound 'murder strip' part of the proposal. 

For southbound cyclists on the road, heading out of town and mixing with motor traffic, the group says: "Cycling south could well be worse than now, because the carriageway would effectively be narrowed by the cycle lane. You’d be stuck between the parked cars and the cycle lane, potentially with impatient drivers behind, harassing you or close-passing you.

"In our view it is unprofessional of Area 6 to put forward a so-called active travel scheme that in fact has zero benefit for active travel.

"If they went ahead with Option 2, it would be because they wanted to look as though they were doing something, while actually doing nothing of value." 

Arriving at in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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