Latest £100,000 Harrogate cycle plan branded ‘a waste of money’ — by cyclists
Sep 19, 2023
Nursery Lane could get a £100,000 improvement.

Plans to spend £100,000 on making a minor Harrogate road better for cycling have been branded a waste of taxpayers’ money.

North Yorkshire Council revealed this month it wants to upgrade Nursery Lane into an off-road leisure route.

It was one of 10 proposals put forward costing £585,000 to reduce congestion in west Harrogate.

But the no through road off Otley Road is already tarmacked and gets very little traffic, prompting cyclists to question the merit of the scheme.

A meeting of the council’s Harrogate and Knaresborough area constituency committee heard a statement from David Mitchell, of Harrogate District Cycle Action, which said spending £100,000 on Nursery Lane was “not sensible because it would not make a meaningful difference to the cycle network”.

Paul Haslam, a Conservative who represents Bilton and Nidd Gorge, told the meeting the cycling community had told him the proposal was “a complete waste of money because that lane is already safe”.

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The Hedgehog Cycling website has also been highly critical of the scheme. A blog post, which does not identify the author, said:

“Nursery Lane is already fine as it is. There is very little traffic, no through traffic, and a sealed surface. There is absolutely no need for a cycle track. Spending £100,000 on it would be an outrageous waste of public money.

“Nursery Lane could be a useful cut-through from an Otley Road cycleway to Harlow Moor Road – but there would need to be an Otley Road cycleway. As it is, North Yorkshire Council is intent on building ‘ribs but no spine’ which is brainless.”

Cyclists’ frustration is compounded by the council’s failure to deliver on schemes such as the Station Gateway, Otley Road cycle path, Beech Grove and Victoria Avenue, which were supposed to form part of a connected route.

Mr Mitchell also criticised another of the 10 proposals, which is to spend £25,000 on a review of cycle route signs.

He said signs were improved in 2014 and cyclists “need safe cycle routes not more signposts”. He added spending £25,000 “presumably to consultants WSP would be a waste of public money”.

Discussing Nursery Lane at last week’s meeting, the council’s area highways manager Melisa Burnham said “there’s certainly been a historic desire from locals to see that widened and improved to improve the links that side of Harrogate”.

Ms Burnham said the transport measures had been compiled by an officer group that took part in community engagements, including one with Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association in May.

She said that meeting included representatives from the local cycling group.

Traffic lights at the junction of Cold Bath Road, Otley Road and Arthurs Avenue.

The council has also faced criticism about the biggest of its 10 proposed schemes, which is a £200,000 upgrade of the traffic lights at the junction of Otley Road, Cold Bath Road and Arthurs Avenue.

Arnold Warneken, the Green Party councillor for Ouseburn, told last week’s meeting the proposal was “sustainable for cars but not sustainable for active travel and the environment”.

Mr Burnham said the signal upgrade would relieve congestion, which was a “key objective” of the funding and the junction improvements “would create a safe space”.