Why Harrogate's switch to bikes is still on course and what is to come for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

The Harrogate Advertiser can reveal work on all three of Harrogate’s biggest new Continental-style cycle paths looks set to start before the end of 2021 as the town’s switch to sustainable transport gets under way in earnest.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 12:26 pm
The Beech Grove closure was the first of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Harrogate.
The Beech Grove closure was the first of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Harrogate.

Highways authority North Yorkshire County Council, may have opted to drop one of its proposed new cycle paths at Oatlands Drive after a furious reaction from some residents and business groups who were worried it would clog up certain roads with more cars.

But, armed with more than £1 million from the Government’s Active Travel Fund scheme for a series of new major cycle paths in a switch to sustainable transport, it is full steam for the following:

New cycle paths

Victoria Avenue near the County Court, between the A61 at West Park and Station Parade.

The A59 (Harrogate Road, Knaresborough) between Badger Mount and Maple Close.

Talking to the Harrogate Advertiser this week, Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for transport, confirmed, despite teething problems, the plans were very much on course.

He said: “We expect the construction of the two remaining ATF cycle schemes in Harrogate, Knaresborough to go out to tender shortly with a view to start work in November.”

Combined with its previous announcement that construction work on its long-delayed cycle path project for Otley Road was likely to begin this August, it adds up to the most substantial steps forward in the battle to wean people out of their cars and on to their bicycles.

Harrogate: What is happening with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Confidence is also growing in the local authorities that heat is dying down on its plunge into the world of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

After a few weeks when some drivers took to mounting the grass on parts of the Stray at West Park to get round new road blocks at Beech Grove and Lancaster Road, the situation appears to have calmed down as cyclists enjoy the peace and freedom of life at Harrogate’s first LTN.

The Beech Grove LTN was introduced as an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) which enables the county council to limit or prohibit the movement of traffic on the highway.

It has an 18 month duration and the county council is expected to make its mind up on what to do next by August 2022.

Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTNs) use planters to stop through traffic but they also mean getting around places by car becomes a lot more difficult.

But that is the idea behind them - they are aimed at to driving down car use and enabling more people to take up cycling and walking in a safe and civilised fashion.

An idea that started in the Continent, although many have been set up successfully in the UK in recent years in the likes of Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham but they have also been the occasion for flashpoints for some residents' anger in parts of London.

There have already been proposals for a Bilton LTN as one of the possible options in the Harrogate Transport Improvement Programme, though no decision has yet been taken.

Othewise, after being stung by the force of the negative reaction from some parts of the community to restriction on cars, no other LTNs are currently planned in Harrogate.

As for the current experimental LTN at Beech Grove in Harrogate, Coun Mackenzie said he has, as yet, received no official report on the public response.

He acknowledged there were still a few complaints but, he added, they were mostly of a low key nature.

Coun Mackenzie said: “I am not aware of particular problems associated with the LTN at Beech Grove but I have not yet received a report summarising public responses.

“Social media activity about it seems broadly positive."

Coun Mackenzie continued: “I am anecdotally aware that there may be one or two residents in the part of Beech Grove between the closure and West Park whose cars are parked at the front of their block of flats have a small detour in order to access Otley Road and Leeds Road.

“There is plenty of time to evaluate the LTN’s effectiveness and acceptability to local residents.”

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