Dear Reader: Cycle-geddon in Harrogate? + Remembering The Jam

Traffic on Otley Road in Harrogate - Will new cycle paths help or hinder?
Traffic on Otley Road in Harrogate - Will new cycle paths help or hinder?

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Quietly under our noses people are starting to get their handlebars in a twist over proposals for new cycle paths on a main route through Harrogate.

On paper, creating new cyclists-only lanes on both sides of Otley Road from the Prince of Wales roundabout all the way up Harlow Hill to the RHS Harlow Carr crossroads is a fantastic idea, if not a vital one if we are ever do reduce our carbon footprint and move towards a sustainable future.

Better still, North Yorkshire County Council seem to have both the budget and the will to turn it into a reality.

But, recently, complaints have started to emerge.

Complaints about how the consultation is being carried out and with whom.

Complaints about lack of information and delays.

Perhaps, worst of all, complaints about the very location on a road subject to a rash of new housing developments.

The whole thing feels like another much bigger issue in microcosm, one it is, in truth, an integral part of – what to do about traffic congestion.

The most serious question is whether the new cycle paths will really solve the problem or merely create new ones?

At its worst, Otley Road is a constant flow of cars, made trickier by a series of traffic lights and a right-turn lane at Harlow Moor Road which doesn’t really exist.

Amid all this, residents try to come and go in the cars from their houses on both sides of the road while children walk up and down the pavement to school.

This well-intentioned project risks turning the whole area into the wacky races.

There’s quite a distance between the Playhouse in Edinburgh and Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough – about 36 years to be precise.

The former is where I saw The Jam, the real thing, in 1982.

The latter is where I saw The Jam’d, a tribute band, on Saturday night.

The differences were distinct and I don’t just mean the absence of original vocalist/guitarist Paul Weller, bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler.

These old songs seem so much sharper and intelligent than current chart toppers, though that may be my age talking.

The effect on Saturday night’s audience was different, too.

They acted as I remember audiences used to do in the good-old-bad-old days ie as if they owned the place and it was their ‘gig’.

One change was very welcome, however.

Instead of the menacing bouncers paid to look aggressive who I had to navigate round at the Playhouse, all I had to face at Frazer Theatre were the small band of friendly volunteers manning the bar and the ticket table to raise funds for Knaresborough’s fantastic arts hub.

My ears are still ringing now - those old amps, not nostalgia.

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