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Hedge-blog: is there any substance to Cycle Yorkshire's Tour legacy?

13th July 2014

Cyclists on the Nidderdale Greenway

Is there any substance to the promise of a cycling legacy from the Tour de France?

Cycle Yorkshire was set up to ensure a legacy, as HedgehogCycling reported here. According to their strategy document, a key part of the legacy involves the cycling strategies of local authority members of Cycle Yorkshire. The strategy document says, '...all of our local authority members have created their own long term cycling strategies at a local level. Cycle Yorkshire will help coordinate and support the delivery of these improvements across the region, acting as a forum to track progress, challenge plans and share experiences and ideas.' 

On 5th April 2014, I asked Cycle Yorkshire where I could find and read North Yorkshire's cycling strategy, and which other local authorities were members, and where I could see their strategies. The reply I got at the end of April was: 'The council strategies should be available on their websites.'

A trawl of North Yorkshire County Council's (NYCC) website doesn't reveal a cycling strategy, and Harrogate's cycling champion tells me she doesn't think NYCC have one.

This raises questions. Is NYCC a member of Cycle Yorkshire? Given that a large part of the Tour route was through North Yorkshire, if it isn't a member, why not? Which other local authorities are members? 

The wording of the strategy document is concrete and positive. The local authorities have created the cycling strategies. This makes it all the more disappointing that they couldn't tell me which local authorities are members, or where the cycling strategies can be found.

If Cycle Yorkshire don't know anything about the local authority cycling strategies, how are they going to coordinate and support the delivery of improvements, act as a forum to track progress, or challenge plans?

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they will have been busy, if they were involved in the delivery of the Tour de France. Probably somebody does know all about local authority plans, but I just got the wrong person, or at the wrong time, when he didn't have time to give a detailed reply. However, the Tour has now been and gone, and there is no longer any reason not to focus on legacy.

Now is when we get to find out if 'legacy' was something they had to promise the organisers, but which no one has any intention of doing anything about; or if it will be meaningful. Is the legacy document just a bunch of glossy photos, or will it translate into action? I have asked again which local authorities are members of Cycle Yorkshire, and where I can find their cycling strategies, and I'm hoping for a proper answer.

We have to be wary of a loss of momentum. In my very limited experience of dealing with local government, a reply to a simple enquiry can take several weeks. A cycling legacy from the Tour de France should be driven forward in a dynamic way, not grind to a halt. 

Anyone who is interested in improving conditions for cyclists in the wake of the Tour de France, can get involved with the legacy. You can become a member of Cycle Yorkshire (email them at legacy@cycleyorkshire.com). What do you think the legacy from the Tour should be?

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