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
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.
this shared use path isn't convenient: if you use it (going uphill),
you give up priority at all driveways and side roads, and where it
finishes at Nursery lane
the pavement isn't that busy, but it is often used by large family
groups with pushchairs, children, and/or dogs, taking up the whole
width. Quite right too. But that will put people on bikes off using
it, because it's awkward to negotiate your way past
shared use paths can be justified as a last resort where there's no
alternative; here, there is ample space, and a segregated cycle lane
could quite easily have been built
it doesn't connect to anything. Anyone here on a bike will have used
the road at one end or the other of this shared use path. An isolated
bit of infra is pretty useless. Ok, you can't build everything at
once, but if you're creating bits of path, it has to be as part of a
coherent plan for a joined-up network, with a timetable. As far as I'm
aware, there isn't one
the result of all these problems is that the path will just be
ignored by people on bikes - and from what I've seen, it is. That
makes it a waste of time and money. (I'm not arguing for less infra,
I'm arguing for more and better)
What should be done instead
This is what should be done, I suggest.
Create a segregated, dedicated cycle lane between pavement and road,
with physical protection from the traffic
Give it priority over side roads, and where it finishes at Nursery
Lane (if it is going to finish there)
Set out a coherent plan for it to join up to a network: the councils
should be looking at providing high-quality, segregated cycle lanes to
get people from the new housing developments on Penny Pot Lane to the
town centre and to Otley Road
Put zebra crossings on the raised tables on Harlow Moor Road, to
give priority to people using the footpaths crossed by the road
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.
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).
After Sussex Court, there's a long stretch where the pavement has been
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.