Cycling group questions commitment to active travel in Harrogate district
Last updated Jan 26, 2023
Cycling schemes appear to have ground to a halt.

A cycling group has said the expected abandonment of the second phase of the Otley Road cycle route has raised serious questions about the commitment to active travel in the Harrogate district.

Cllr Keane Duncan, executive member for highways and transportation at North Yorkshire County Council, said yesterday none of the proposed Otley Road options had proved popular and he was asking “serious questions” about whether to proceed.

Kevin Douglas, chair of Harrogate District Cycle Action, said his group was one of the council’s consultees on the scheme and he was disappointed not to have been told the news.

He said the council had confidently predicted the scheme would succeed in 2017 and six years later only a third of it had been delivered.

Mr Douglas agreed there were problems with phase one but said shelving the scheme wasn’t the solution. He said he’d like to see alternative proposals and a more consistent commitment to active travel in the district, adding:

“If they do scrap it there needs to be very careful scrutiny of what’s happened here and whether there is a real commitment to doing things properly.

“To do these schemes you have got to be committed to change, like in Leeds and York.

“Let’s get Active Travel England, who are experts, to come in and look at the county council’s proposals and see what they think of them.”

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The three-phase Otley Road cycle route was supposed to be part of a wider scheme providing safe cycling between Cardale Park and the town centre. Mr Douglas said:

“If they don’t build phase two I’m not sure how they are going to see that through.”

He compared the lack of progress on Otley Road and other active travel schemes, such as Beech Grove and Victoria Avenue in Harrogate and Harrogate Road in Knaresborough, as well as the Harrogate Station Gateway, with the £70 million realignment of the A59 at Kex Gill, which is about to get underway.

Mr Douglas said removing car parking space on Beech Grove would encourage cyclists to use the road yet it wasn’t one of the options included in the Otley Road phase two consultation.

He said it was wrong to blame cyclists for the scheme collapsing when the real issue was a lack of commitment to active travel.