Harlow Moor Road cycle route, Harrogate

Harlow Moor Road cycle route, Harrogate
Harlow Moor Road, Harrogate - a missed opportunity for a proper segregated cycle lane

New 'cycle infrastructure' has been created on Harlow Moor Road, Harrogate, funded (as I understand it) by the developers of two new housing estates - Sussex Court (Linden Homes) and Harlow One (Miller Homes).

A segregated cycle lane could have been built here, there's plenty of space, but unfortunately the pavement has simply been resurfaced, and made dual use.

Why the Harlow Moor shared use pavement isn't any good

I've set out the considerations in more detail on the rest of the page below, but this is a quick summary.

What should be done instead

This is what should be done, I suggest.

I first had a look at Harlow Moor Road on 5th October 2017, because I'd heard that a cycle route had been built, using 'section 106' money provided by the developers of two new housing estates. A section of the pavement had been resurfaced (between the junction with Cornwall Road and the junction with Nursery Lane), but there was no other evidence of a cycle route. In October 2018, I found no further progress.

A NYCC question & answer document about the Otley Road cycleway, from around March 2019, called the Harlow Moor Road route 'the Miller Homes cycleway' and said '[t]here are no timeframes for this work to be carried out currently.' I suggest that the council should be setting a timeframe.

Towards the end of 2019, blue shared use signs were put up on the pavement between Cornwall Road and Nursery Lane. There is no progress on any kind of cycle route continuing to Otley Road.

The route is due to run alongside Harlow Moor Road between Cornwall Road and Otley Road. This map shows the extent of it:

Harlow Moor Road cycle route, Harrogate: description

Cycling signs, Harlow Moor Road
Blue cycling signs on Harlow Moor Road near the junction with Cornwall Road

I looked at the cycle facilities on Harlow Moor Road, walking uphill from Cornwall Road to Otley Road

Soon after starting, you have to give way to traffic turning into the new housing development (Sussex Court, built by Linden Homes).

Pavement on Harlow Moor Road, near Sussex Court
Harlow Moor Road near Sussex Court

After Sussex Court, there's a long stretch where the pavement has been resurfaced.

Harlow Moor Road, shared use path
Harlow Moor Road, resurfaced section of pavement

The resurfacing work stops where the pavement gives way to a path to/from the Valley Gardens, opposite the Nursery Lane junction, just before the little roundabout at the junction of Harlow Moor Road and Harlow Moor Drive. From there, at the time of writing at least, you're back on the road.

Harlow Moor Road, pavement
Harlow Moor Road, pavement gives way to path to Valley Gardens

I have been told that the shared use route is due to cross over to the other side of Harlow Moor Road at the junction with Harlow Moor Drive.

Junction of Harlow Moor Rd & Harlow Moor Drive
Junction of Harlow Moor Rd & Harlow Moor Drive

The shared use path will continue on the right hand side of Harlow Moor Road to the junction with Otley Road. No resurfacing work has so far been done to the pavement on this stretch though. It will pass the Miller Homes Harlow One development, and presumably give way to the side road leading into that development, Pinewood Drive/Morel Grove.

Miller Homes Harlow One development
Miller Homes Harlow One development

If what I've been told is correct, it would then join up with the Otley Road cycleway (yet to be started, at the time of writing).

Harlow Moor Road cycle route, Harrogate: assessment

Overtake on Harlow Moor Road
Photo illustrating why a proper bike lane is needed on Harlow Moor Road

This assessment is based on what is complete so far, and my understanding of the plans for the rest after speaking to various people. I'm more than happy to be corrected on any points.

I would not describe the work on Harlow Moor Road as 'creating or building a cycle route'. This is resurfacing a pavement and permitting cycling on it.

Shared use paths can be useful in some places, where there is no alternative. This is not one of those places. There's over a metre's width of grass, and it's not part of the Stray, or otherwise special or protected habitat. There's no reason why a cycle path couldn't be built there. Compromises may well be necessary in many locations, but here there is no excuse.

Harlow Moor Road
Harlow Moor Road, with grass verge between road and footpath

The cycle path should be in between the footpath and the carriageway. It should be physically protected from vehicles, and have the same priority over side roads as the road.

Disadvantages of a shared use pavement

The disadvantages of a shared use path like this are:

1) Sharing a path isn't convenient for people riding bikes, as they have to negotiate their way past people walking on the path; and people on foot can be surprised or inconvenienced when someone riding a bike comes up behind them.

This particular footpath isn't heavily used, but the people who do use it often take up the whole width - several people and/or buggies for small children and/or dogs. Quite right too. This means it's a bad idea to lump people on foot and on bikes together.

2) The pavement doesn't have priority over side roads, or even driveways. Even though it's not finished, you can see that the pavement on Harlow Moor Road is going to give way to roads and driveways into Sussex Court, and even a path to the Valley Gardens.

Harlow Moor Rd shared use path
Shared use path, Harlow Moor Rd, at one of the many places where it gives way to driveways or side roads

3) Leaves, sticks, and other debris don't matter much when you're walking, but are not good for cycling on.

The path will be ignored

People will use a cycle path if they can get onto it and off it conveniently and without stopping, and if they retain the same level of priority they would have on the road. That means, no getting off to lift your bike up a kerb, no pushing across junctions, and no giving way to every drive and side road.

What is the arrangement going to be at the roundabout junction of Harlow Moor Road and Harlow Moor Drive? I would guess, a tactile paving stone where the pavement stops at one side of the roundabout, and another where it starts again at the other side. So in effect, you're turned into a pedestrian, giving way to traffic as you cross the road. But that's not very good. If I stay on the road, I can follow the rules of the road, and very likely keep going without stopping at the roundabout. If I have to stop and give way a lot more when using the shared path, it will put me off using it.

Then, what's going to happen at the top of Harlow Moor Road, where it meets Otley Road? Will the route just end, leaving me on the wrong side of the road, so I have to cross Harlow Moor Road as a pedestrian to get back to where I need to be? That's not very good. If I stay on the road, I'll be in the right place to continue my ride.

I don't particularly like cycling up Harlow Moor Road, because it can be busy, and not all drivers overtake considerately leaving plenty of room. If there was a convenient cycle lane, where I was protected from the traffic, that would be great. It would be good for drivers too, as they wouldn't have to slow down and wait to get past cyclists. But if all you're offering is the option to share the pavement, cede priority to the road at every junction, and lose all my momentum and continuity - no, I won't use it.

A shared use path like this could be of use to younger children, cycling with their parents walking behind them.

But why not build a proper, dedicated cycle facility that will be useful to everyone riding bikes here? I suggest the largest proportion of cyclists on Harlow Moor Road is adults on road bikes coming back from a ride in the countryside to the west of Harrogate. They won't cycle on the pavement.

Do the designers of these routes ever go and look afterwards, and watch their 'infrastructure' being ignored? If they did, they would realise the design had failed, and re-do it differently; or never use that design again. Instead, we get failed designs again and again.

I'm incredibly disappointed that in 2017, we're building according to failed designs, rather than using what we know works in other countries.

Whose idea was this? Was it just what was proposed by the developers? Why was it accepted? Even if a proper, quality, convenient, usable, dedicated bike lane is more expensive, I'd rather have fewer of them or a shorter length, but do it properly.

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