Dear Reader: Small shops left behind by cycling + goodbye to paper cups

Flashback to the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France in Harrogate.
Flashback to the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France in Harrogate.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

It’s undoubtedly some sort of failing on my part but unless the person in lycra is brandishing a British flag and winning a medal I’m not really interested in cycling.

And, despite the resurgence in the sport’s popularity in recent years in this country, I don’t think I’m alone in the Harrogate district in believing the world doesn’t revolve entirely around bikes.

Mutterings have been coming my away for months from various sources, mainly local small shops, complaining that playing host to major cycling events has a downside, too.

I’ve heard it said a few times that nearly every small trader in Harrogate town centre except Greggs took a bit of a pasting during last year’s Tour De Yorkshire - or was that a pasty?

Anyone with a modicum of common sense will admit that such sporting events are probably worth millions in sheer marketing for our district’s brand, as well as filling hotel rooms.

If negative voices have grown stronger recently it isn’t because of the possibility of the return at some point of the Tour de France, which almost everyone agrees was an incredibly memorable occasion.

No, it’s the prospect of the UCI Road Cycling World Championships arriving in Harrogate for nine days next year which is throwing up dust on the road.

Nine days?

At this point I should probably say something constructive like, perhaps, it might be a good idea if organisers could integrate small town centre businesses into the occasion somehow.

But nine days? Nine days!

Campaigning against paper cups

I said farewell to paper cups the other week and said hello to a smart reusable blue and white drinks container.

The spur for this momentous decision was stories in the national press about bulging landfill sites across the land building up as a result of the behaviour of coffee lovers like myself.

I also heard recently that a single well-known outlet in Harrogate dishes out 10,000 paper cups a week to mugs like me which end up goodness knows where.

No one likes a clever clogs but I also use public transport regularly, have an organic veg box delivered on a weekly basis and for the past 16 years have boycotted 15 major firms and shops that seem to be more part of the problem than the solution.

Environmentally holier than thou, sir?

To be serious, I really am not claiming any great credit for myself in any of this.

None of the above really oblige me to make any great sacrifice for the sake of the planet.

There’s also the problem that some cafes have a bad habit of trying to make the coffee in a paper cup before transferring it into my plastic one.

As I write I can imagine naysayers muttering “what does he want, the Nobel Prize? All he’s done is stopped using paper cups!”

That, of course, is the point.

It’s such an easy step to take.