Cycling campaigners are calling on the town’s businesses and residents to ‘crowdfund’ a feasability survey on how Harrogate could become a cycle friendly town.
A feasibility study by cycling charity Sustrans would cost £15,000 but the charity say it would make it easier to apply for funding in the future.
Although Harrogate Borough Councillors voted against supporting the study, Coun Helen Flynn (Lib Dem, Nidd Valley) is spearheading a crowdfunding project. She said: “What is exciting about this project is that it is the first time that a project of this type has been crowd sourced and it is particularly exciting as the Tour de France is upon us.
“There really never has been a better time to launch this kind of initiative, and it promises to eventually give us a strong legacy of utility cycling from the Tour having visited us.”
Around £4,000 has been raised so far and Coun Flynn said that making Harrogate more cycle friendly could ease traffic congestion and boost air quality.
She said: “Anyone who lives or works in Harrogate is well aware of traffic congestion around the town. It is also the case that over 80 per cent of traffic in Harrogate is local. Most damning of all, we also have one of the lowest rates of young people cycling to school in the country”
She added: “I feel it is important that as a town we do have an ambitious and joined up approach as to how we can achieve the aim of becoming a cycling town.”
One of the initial investors Andrew Kempston-Parkes, Chartered Surveyors said: “This hopefully will be the beginning of a lasting legacy for the Harrogate District.”
Malcolm Margolis of cycle group Wheel Easy said: “We fully support the proposed feasibility study. In London the cycling campaign is called Love London, Go Dutch. Local campaigners have a similar vision for Harrogate, already a beautiful town but with a Dutch style cycling infrastructure it would be a very much better and healthier place to live. The study will provide the basis for this transformation.”
Harrogate Borough Council’s cycling champion, Coun John Ennis (Con, Low Harrogate) has recently launched a cycling forum for the town.
He said: “We have had our first meeting and we are pooling our expertise and planning to do a feasibility assessment ourselves. I think it is a good group, we have a lot of different expertise.
“I am not saying we won’t need an study at some point but not at the moment and the money isn’t there right now.”
Anyone interested in supporting the scheme should email helenﬂynn@me.com