Harrogate District Cycle Action has criticised North Yorkshire Council for its track record in delivering active travel in Harrogate, which has seen various cycling and walking schemes abandoned and funding bids rejected.
In recent years the council has built a widely-criticised stretch of cycle route on Otley Road and abandoned the next phase, scrapped a Low Traffic Neighbourhood on Beech Grove and decided against creating a one-way system on Oatlands Drive.
Meanwhile, funding bids have been rejected by the government for new cycle paths on Knaresborough Road and Victoria Avenue.
Its flagship active travel scheme, the £11.2m Harrogate Station Gateway, is also set to scaled-back with no guarantees it will offer any benefits for cyclists if it’s eventually built.
The council’s predecessor North Yorkshire County Council undertook a much-publicised Harrogate Congestion Survey in 2019 which showed there was an appetite for improving walking and cycling infrastructure in the town so people are incentivised to leave their cars at home.
But campaigner Gia Margolis, speaking at a meeting of Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors this morning at the Civic Centre, said the council is “failing our children and grandchildren” due to its patchy record on delivering active travel schemes.
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Speaking on behalf of Harrogate District Cycle Action, Ms Margolis said:
“Consultants have written reports which have all come to the same conclusion — most short journeys [in Harrogate] are less than 1.6 miles and too many are made by car.
“We’re asking you to stop talking and giving us false hope that things will change and look at why the council has failed to deliver any significant active travel schemes over the last nine years.”
Ms Margolis also referred to the various housing estates on the edge of Harrogate that suffer with poor active travel infrastructure and bus routes.
“Harrogate could by now have had a first-class walking and cycling network which would have made a difference to all our lives but we’re bound by a focus on people in their cars.”
Ms Margolis’ statement was not debated by councillors but instead officer Mark Codman read out a pre-written response.
He referred to the West of Harrogate Parameters Plan, a document that was produced last year to improve infrastructure at the same time as thousands of new homes are built.
Mr Codman said:
“The group’s disappointment has been noted and acknowledged. The west of Harrogate promoters have given consideration towards active travel as part of the West of Harrogate Parameters Plan and a proposed bus route extension.
“In addition, walking and cycling schemes have been put forward including Otley Road phase 3, at Windmill Farm and Harlow Moor Road, plus an active travel scheme encompassing Whinney Lane and Pannal Ash Road.”