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