Cycling campaigners back £1m bid to make Harrogate more pedestrian and bike-friendly

Cycling campaigners have shown their "strong support" to a council bid for more than £1m to make Harrogate more pedestrian and bike-friendly.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 1:27 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 1:28 pm

North Yorkshire County Council last week revealed its second round bid to the government's Emergency Active Travel Fund, which is designed to support sustainable travel as the country emerges from the pandemic.

Harrogate featured as high priority in the plans with the town taking up three of five major schemes put forward for the entire county.

The proposals have now won the backing of campaign group Harrogate District Action Cycle Action which says it will lobby the government to help the council win the cash.

North Yorkshire County Council has bid for more than £1m to make Harrogate more pedestrian and bike-friendly.

"This is a big step forward and we are pleased three of the schemes are in Harrogate", said the group's chairman Kevin Douglas.

"We are going to be pushing for this and showing our strong support."

The proposals for Harrogate include around 1.5 miles of cycle lanes and better pedestrian crossings on Oatlands Drive, Victoria Avenue and the A59 between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

The county council believes the plans make a "strong" case for all of the cash - after it was only awarded half of the £266,000 available in the first round.

Mr Douglas had criticised the council for lacking "ambition and innovation", but he also now believes the authority has a better chance of winning all of the £1m on offer.

"I'm certainly now more hopeful that we will get the full amount", he said.

"They have made a much stronger case which just proves a lot more can be done with the consultation of residents. We feel that was what was lacking in the first bid.

"There is still a long way to go, but it seems we might be getting there."

The council last month launched an online tool for residents to submit suggestions to improve cycling and walking, and within a week 290 submissions were made.

Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said because the bid had to be prepared within just four weeks, several schemes had to be ruled out.

“We are grateful to the people from all over North Yorkshire who have already suggested improvements through our website and to the walking and cycling groups across the county who provided feedback on the schemes for possible inclusion in this bid", he previously said.

“The schemes we have put forward are those that best fit the criteria. We believe these are strong proposals that can bring genuine travel benefits and we keenly await the decision of the Department for Transport.”

In its first round bid, the council was awarded £133,000 for a pop-up cycle lane on Beech Grove in Harrogate. Works will start this month and should be completed in September.

The temporary cycle lane will remain in place for six months and could become permanent if it proves to be a success.

The Emergency Active Travel Fund is the first phase of a £2bn five-year sustainable travel package announced by the government.

The council said it is now awaiting a decision on its second round bid.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter