Campaigners are calling for urgent action to be taken over car parking for the Nidderdale Greenway before a serious accident happens.
A car park is available on Bilton Lane but, say campaigners, there is only room for six cars with dozens parking along a narrow country lane.
Their concern is that these cars are forcing pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users onto the carriageway and into the path of passing cars.
“This is an accident waiting to happen and needs resolving before someone is maimed,” said campaigner Nigel Heptinstall. “Something needs to be done now.”
The Nidderdale Greenway was opened last year and has proved popular with walkers, cyclists, riders, and wheelchair users. As a result, the car park is often overflowing with up to 30 cars parked along the nearby lane at peak times.
Campaigners are now calling for double yellow lines to be enforced and for the car park to be extended by 15m - something they are prepared to pay for themselves.
“The Greenbelt has been a tremendous boon,” said Keith Wilkinson, MBE, from the Bilton Conservation Group. “It gets rave reviews and is very popular all through the week.
“But the car park is attracting more people than it can cope with. Residents are suffering the backlash, and the safety issue is quite serious.”
Discussions have been held with Harrogate Borough Council which owns the land, with Sustrans which runs the route, and with North Yorkshire County Council over the road safety issues.
The Nidderdale Greenway Steering Group says that rather than extending the car park, visitors should be encouraged to cycle or walk instead. But the Bilton Conservation Group, with support from the Woodland Trust, has offered to make a contribution to pay for the extension.
“We don’t want to attract cars into the countryside,” said Mr Wilkinson. “But we have to make some arrangements.
“What we have is a token.”