The B6162 Otley Road is an important and busy route in Harrogate.
It goes from the Prince of Wales roundabout near the centre of
Harrogate, in a WSW direction. It passes through a significant part
of the town, including schools, shops, pubs, and houses, goes past
RHS Harlow Carr on the edge of Harrogate, and out towards
Beckwithshaw and the countryside.
There are proposals to build more houses to the west of Harrogate,
which are likely to make Otley Road even busier.
It is not a pleasant road to cycle because of the volume of
traffic, and the relatively narrow carriageway, especially when
going uphill, away from the Prince of Wales roundabout. Plenty of
cyclists use it, because often you have to, to get where you want to
go. Some use the road, and others use the pavement - I would say it
is about 50-50, which suggests that Otley Road is intimidating for
North Yorkshire County Council is planning to build a segregated
cycle route on Otley Road, Harrogate, between the Prince of Wales
roundabout and Cardale Park. At the time of writing, the works
have not started; promised dates for the start of the work keep
going by with no action, and the timetable is slipping.
B6162 Otley Road: danger and accidents
B6162 Otley Road: serious injury January 2015
A cyclist was
seriously injured by a lorry on 8th January 2015, on the Otley
Road, between the junctions with Arthurs Avenue and West End
B6162 Otley Road: example of a dangerous overtake by YY05PYT
On 18th October 2017, I was cycling down Otley Road past the Coop
(where the road narrows), when the driver of VW Golf YY05PYT
overtook me. He didn't account for the narrowing of the road, and
left a gap of about 20cm. The overtake was nothing like a rule
163 Highway Code pass.
Of course, the driver came to a stop a few metres further on at the
lights at the junction with Cold Bath Road, so it was totally
pointless putting me at risk of physical injury to get past me.
I spoke to him while he was stationary, and asked him to look at
the picture of an overtake in the Highway Code when he got home, and
leave more space another time. Unfortunately, he didn't agree to
look at the Code, and said he knew all about it already, and blamed
me for cycling 'more than a metre' from the kerb.
There is no Highway Code rule that says you can't ride more than a
metre from the kerb, but it is recommended to ride well clear of the
kerb, which could be about a metre. I wasn't more than a metre from
the kerb - the reality is that the driver had not anticipated the
narrowing of the road, and wasn't going to give me much space
Rule 167 says 'DO NOT overtake...where the road narrows.'
It is disappointing that people like the driver of YY05PYT make
mistakes and drive dangerously because they don't know the Highway
Code, and don't even realise that they are in the wrong. They can't
be bothered to check the rules, so will presumably continue to make
the same mistakes.
Even if I had breached the Highway Code (which I hadn't) is that a
reason to put me in physical danger?
When you cycle on Otley Road, some drivers will be patient and
considerate, and others will not. The trouble is, pretty much every
time you cycle there, driver behaviour will unnerve you or make you
fear for your personal safety. The poor overtakes are usually due to
ignorance not malice, but the result is the same: they put most
people off cycling here.
Road: cyclist injured in a collision at Pine Marten
On 14th June 2018, a cyclist was
hit by a car on Otley Road by the Pine Marten (which is at the
Cardale Park junction). The cyclist was taken to hospital.
Otley Road & the Hierarchy of Road Users - a case of failure
There's a principle of transport planning that road users should
be considered starting with pedestrians, especially the disabled,
then coming to cyclists, then public transport users, and finally
motor vehicles. It was mentioned in a recent DfT
On Otley Road, you would think that the interests of drivers of
motor vehicles had been put first, middle and last, and blow
Pedestrians are failed, because crossings are missing in places
where people naturally want to traverse the road (for example, the
corner of the Stray at Beech Grove).
When you do find a crossing, the settings on the lights are such
that you have to wait for the start of the next geological era
before they to change to green. (Actually, the Anthropocene era
may have started already, and that's part of the problem). Once
the lights change, you wait for at least one car to go through on
red - I watched a driving instructor go through on red the other
day - then you're accorded a handful of milliseconds in which to
Developers of new housing estates such as Bluecoats are
suggesting MOVA traffic light systems for Otley Road, which are
said to send 'platoons' of traffic up and down the road. Where
does that leave the Hierarchy of Road Users, and people who want
to cross the road?
South of Otley Road are residential areas, which are within a
stone's throw of the town centre. Walking and cycling should be
the natural ways for people to get into town. There's no need to drive
unless you are buying a sofa. But we need the council to back
people up when they choose active travel.
North Yorkshire County Council is the highways authority. They
should put pedestrians at the top of the list. They can't possibly
believe that giving more space and priority to private cars is
going to solve congestion problems, when decades of experience
shows the opposite. It's time they demonstrated their commitment
to walking and cycling not just by warm words, but by their
B6162 Otley Road: map
The B6162 is shown as a cycling route on the map attached to Harrogate Borough Council's Cycling Implentation
Plan. However, this is not a review of the cycling
infrastructure on the route, because there isn't any. It is a few
suggestions for how to make the road better for cyclists.
B6162 Otley Road: width of the carriageways
Leaving the roundabout, going uphill on Otley Road, the left hand
carriageway is much narrower than the right hand one. This is
probably because the the right hand carriageway splits into two
lanes before the roundabout. However, the difference in width goes
on for a long distance.
As a cyclist, this is the exact opposite of what is desirable. When
I'm going uphill, I cycle more slowly. More vehicles pass, and the
difference between their speed and mine is greater. Having an
extremely narrow carriageway uphill increases drivers' frustration
when they are unable to pass, and leads to more very close passes.
Going downhill, I can keep up with the traffic, and I don't need a
This would be simple to change. It would just need the council to
paint the white lines in the middle of the road, not off to the
B6162 Otley Road: separate cycle lanes
What the Otley Road really needs are segregated cycle lanes. This
would provide proper facilities for cycling, and obviate the
need for cycling on the pavement.
If Harrogate/North Yorkshire ever put in proper, good quality,
segregated cycle lanes here, we'll know that they're taking cycling
seriously. They are needed, but it won't be easy, and will cost
money to do it properly.
If there was a plan to create cycle 'infrastructure' only with
paint, not road works to make a cycle path, I would say don't
bother. Equally, if the cycle lane were to give way to every side
road, I would say don't bother. Please, NO SHARED USE PAVEMENT
CYCLING. It should be done properly, putting a protected cycle lane
next to the road, with the same priority as the road.
I'm not a highways engineer, nor an expert in cycle infrastructure
except for using it sometimes. I have set out my ideas below, and
there are more in my article Inspiration from Dutch
Separate cycle lane uphill
The road is not wide enough to take a lot of space away from it.
The pavements on either side are, broadly, plenty wide enough. There
are trees and other obstacles which make it more difficult to create
a bike lane, but not impossible. I am assuming that no one wants the
trees to be cut down.
A bike lane could be created alongside the pavement. It should not
just be done with paint. It would be necessary to take away some of
the grass, and build a bike path, with a good, level, tarmaced
surface. It could be a different colour (red or green) to
distinguish it from the footpath.
There are a number of side roads. Any bike lane needs to allow
cyclists the same priority as vehicles over side roads. So vehicles
pulling out of side roads would have to give way to the cycle lane,
and vehicles turning into the side roads would have to give way to
the cycle lane.
I envisage that the cycle lane would come out from the pavement,
and run directly alongside the road. The give way lines of the side
road would be set back a little from where they are now, so vehicles
stop before the cycle lane. There would be signs for vehicles
turning left making clear that they must give way to the cycle
This is not impossible. This is my understanding of the way things
are done in the Netherlands.
At the traffic lights at the junction with Arthur's Avenue and Cold
Bath Road, the cycle lane would rejoin the existing cycle lane, and
the same would apply at the junction with Pannal Ash Road.
After the junction with Harlow Moor Road, there is little space on
the left hand side of the road (still going uphill), and there are a
number of side roads, shops, and a pub. It looks complicated to find
space for a cycle lane. One possibility would be to make the cycle
lane swap to the far side of the road. This would need a cyclists'
phase on the traffic lights. It could be operated by a button, like
There is enough space on the footpath on the right hand side of the
road (going uphill), but the existing footpath is not wide enough.
Paint alone will not do. A new bike path would have to be made, next
to a footpath. Some of the grass would go.
Beyond Harlow Carr
Beckwithshaw is a bit more than 1km from Harlow Carr and about 4km
(2.5 miles) from Harrogate town centre. It's a bit far to walk on a
regular basis, but easy to cycle. Most people won't cycle on that
narrow road, because they know there will be close, fast passes from
some vehicles, that will scare them, and put them off.
We know congestion is a major problem, so it's daft to make driving
from Beckwithshaw in effect the only option. There absolutely should
be safe, convenient cycle routes from villages or suburbs into the
You have to give people a cycle route that is safe and convenient.
If you build quality, to standards we know work in other countries,
not the rubbish we've had in recent decades in the UK, then people
will use it - on bikes, electric bikes, and mobility scooters.
I suggest a dedicated, physically protected cycle lane on the left
heading to Beckwithshaw.
In the other direction, towards Harrogate, the footpath (pictured
below) could be widened and split in two, for cyclists and
pedestrians. Alternatively, since it is not busy with people
walking, a shared use path may be acceptable.
Separate cycle lane towards Prince of Wales roundabout
The same principles would apply in the opposite direction. For most
of the way, there is enough room on the pavement to build a cycle
lane next to a footpath. It should take priority over side roads. As
explained above, it would be a two-way cycle lane on the stretch
from Harlow Carr to Harlow Moor Road.
B6162 Otley Road: summary of suggestions
Otley Road is an important route, and it is identified as a cycling
route by Harrogate BC. However, many cyclists are intimidated off
the road and onto the pavement. These are some possible solutions.
1) Even up the width of the carriageways, so that when going uphill
away from the Prince of Wales roundabout, the lane is not so
2) Build a separate cycle lane - don't just paint it - from Prince
of Wales roundabout to Harlow Carr. It should have priority over
3) Build a dedicated, protected cycle route on the left hand side
of the road from Harlow Carr to Beckwithshaw. Improve the footpath
on the other side of the road, and make it shared use.
4) Build a separate cycle lane - don't just paint it - in the
direction Harlow Carr to Prince of Wales roundabout. It should have
priority over side roads.
As a further point, whenever proposals are put forward by
developers, lip service is paid to sustainable travel. When any
future proposals are made, developers should absolutely not be
permitted to get away with a couple of meaningless paragraphs about
cycling. This is one of the places where cycle infrastructure is
needed, to make cycling safe, and an option for everyone, including
children going to school, and it should be an essential condition of
building more houses.