Cycling infrastructure in Harrogate and Knaresborough ‘absolutely terrible’
Last updated Mar 21, 2024
Cllr Matt Walker and the Otley Road cycle path. Pic: LDRS

Councillors have criticised North Yorkshire Council for not prioritising the needs of cyclists in Harrogate.

At a meeting of Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors, Alex Kay, the council’s senior transport planning officer delivered a presentation that included options for future cycle links in the town.

These included Bilton to Starbeck and Jennyfields to the town centre with cost estimates running into the millions.

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 £12.1m Harrogate Station Gateway, has also been drastically scaled back following opposition from local businesses with only a small section of Station Parade now set to include a cycle lane.

Cllr Matt Walker, a Liberal Democrat for Knaresborough West, criticised the state of the cycle infrastructure in the area.

He said:

“To improve things you have to acknowledge there’s a problem. Active travel is absolutely terrible. Roads are gridlocked and full of potholes, buses are missed all the time between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

“We have to make improvements and the council needs to step its game up. It needs to get its act together so people can get out of cars and get around in a quick and environmentally-friendly way.”

Cllr Arnold Warneken, a member of the Green Party for Ouseburn, added:

“The frustration of people who want to cycle in Harrogate and Knaresborough isn’t being taken seriously.”

With several of the proposals put forward by the council years from being built, Cllr Paul Haslam, an Independent for Bilton and Nidd Gorge, said there are not enough “shovel-ready” schemes on the table.

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.

Cllr Philip Broadbank, a Liberal Dem for Fairfax and Starbeck, said:

“I get frustrated with talks and plans and various things we spend time preparing [regarding cycling] yet year-in-year-out nothing happens.”

However, Cllr John Mann, a Conservative for Oatlands and Pannal, defended the council and said it “hadn’t done a bad job” on active travel in his constituency.

Cllr Mann said:

“They’ve installed numerous cycle lanes, several 20mph zones, and school streets. The gateway scheme has not been without teething problems and it’s progressing.

“We shouldn’t be too hard on the highways team. The bigger picture is difficult on financing and funds. Costs of construction projects have gone up enormously and inflation is huge.”

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