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Harlow Moor Road cycle route, Harrogate

Harlow Moor Road shared use footpath

Shared use footpath by Harlow Moor Road, Harrogate, by Hedgehog Cycling

I 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.

Update October 2018, a year later: no progress whatever.

Note: a NYCC question & answer document about the Otley Road cycleway, from around March 2019, calls it 'the Miller Homes cycleway' and says '[t]here are no timeframes for this work to be carried out currently.' I suggest a competent council would be setting a timeframe.

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

As I understand it, the pavement has been made shared use, for walking and cycling. There are no shared used signs at the moment, but I guess they will be added. Part of the pavement has been resurfaced, and tactile paving stones have been placed where the pavement gives way to driveways.

A short section immediately after Cornwall Road hasn't yet been done, where work is still going on at one of the new housing developments (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, just before the little roundabout at the junction of Harlow Moor Road and Harlow Moor Drive.

Harlow Moor Road, pavement

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

I believe 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

Harlow Moor Road cycle route, Harrogate: assessment

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.

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.

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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A Country in a Jam

28th September 2017

Traffic on Otley Road Harrogate

In August this year, the LGA produced a report called A Country in a Jam, looking at innovative solutions to congestion being employed by local authorities. This includes investment in active travel in Bristol. The report calls for more powers for councils to deal with traffic jams in various ways. Read about A Country in a Jam.

Inspiration from Dutch cycle infrastructure

Bikes in Zandvoort

Bike lanes in the Netherlands are designed with thought and intelligence to create a joined-up, easily  usable network. I took a few photos of cycle infrastructure in Zandvoort, and I've added some comments about the intention of the planners. In the UK, we should pay particular attention to the way they give bike routes continuity, instead of making them give way to every side street.

Read about inspiration from Dutch cycle infrastructure.

Cycling signs, Harlow Moor Rd Shared use path, Harlow Moor RdMiller Homes development, Harlow Moor Rd