Letter: Positive discussion is best for Stray’s future

A new cycling route plan is worrying the Stray Defence Association.
A new cycling route plan is worrying the Stray Defence Association.

I am writing regarding the letter and article in last week’s Advertiser regarding the ‘threat’ to the Stray from the proposal for a separated cycle lane from Cardale Park to the Prince of Wales roundabout. The Stray Defence Association have taken this approach on several occasions before (Empress Roundabout and Stray Cycle Paths) but their ‘doomsday’ scenarios have never materialised due to all those involved being very aware of the fact that the Stray is not only cherished by the SDA but by all residents.

The organisations involved are sensitive to this and work to ensure that the Stray is maintained as a key facility for everyone to enjoy and the cycle paths on the Stray are witness to this approach.

Given the congestion in the town, and the fact that the majority of car journeys in the town centre are less than 2.6km, the provision of a segregated cycle path from an area containing several key employers and three large secondary schools will provide the opportunity to encourage people to undertake those journeys by cycle in a safe space.

It is clear that none of the measures to ease congestion in the town centre will be easy to implement but sustainable measures such as the provision of cycle paths has a lesser impact on the environment and will provide a healthy alternative to commuting by car.

As cyclists we are, of course, in favour of the provision of cycle routes throughout the whole of the district and we have been working with both HBC and NYCC to take these forward. NYCC have, with the support of Harrogate and District Cycle Action, successfully bid for the funding to undertake the Otley Road route and we see this as part of an enhanced cycle infrastructure throughout the whole district. However, we also value the landscape and the environment which makes our district special and do not want to see trees taken down or the large expanses of the Stray reduced.

We would very much welcome having further discussions with the SDA to achieve both our joint objectives - a new cycle path that will reduce pollution to Stray users and provide an alternative safe route around town and the retention of the Stray which everyone enjoys using.

Scaremongering stories of the loss of the Stray are not helpful in having a dialogue to enable us to take forward the development of this sustainable transport opportunity to ease congestion in the town.

Positive discussions about how to make this scheme work within the parameters are the best way forward.

Kevin Douglas

Chairman, Harrogate and District Cycle Action