Leeds Road, Harrogate
There should be a safe cycle route along Leeds Road, Harrogate, from Pannal to the town centre.
More housing is being built in Pannal, which will mean more journeys between there and the town centre. It is government policy (under CWIS and Decarbonising Transport) that active travel should be the natural choice for short, local journeys. That's the policy in theory but it is not yet being implemented by local authorities, or at least not by North Yorkshire County Council.
Active travel is at the heart of national and local government transport and planning policies, then everyone ignores the policies and does nothing about it. Now is the time that must change.
Rapid Cycleway Prioritisation Tool
The Leeds Road route is recommended by Leeds Institute for Transport Studies' Rapid Cycleway Prioritisation Tool.
The tool was commissioned by Sustrans and the DfT, and the immediate purpose is to inform bids for Tranche 2 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund. It identifies roads with 'cycling potential', particularly those with spare space. Leeds Road falls into that category.
Leeds Road shows as a 'top ranked new cycleway' on the North Yorkshire map, as do Victoria Avenue, Station Parade and the A61 Ripon Road.
Leeds Road, Harrogate: route notes from Pannal to the town centre
There is loads of space on the A61 Leeds Road through Pannal. Much of it is taken up with hatching, which should be removed. Then there will be space for protected bike lanes either side of the road.
The issue of right turns into driveways and businesses will have to be considered when the hatching is removed. One option would be to introduce a 'no right turn' system, so that drivers go to the next junction (for example the new roundabout at the Dunlopillo housing development) to turn round.
Protected space will enable families to go into Harrogate by bike. At the moment, a surprising number of people ride along Leeds Road, but they tend to be fast, fit adult cyclists who are prepared to brave the traffic and dangerous close passes.
There's a huge amount of space as the road goes uphill towards Harrogate. Two lanes going uphill allow overtakes which turn out to be totally pointless as vehicles come to a halt at the Marks & Spencers junction on the edge of Harrogate. Remove the hatching and/or the second lane uphill and there is more than enough space for a bike lane either side here.
We've heard tiresome arguments about hills and cycling countless times, but now that electric bikes are available hills shouldn't be an obstacle for anyone whatever their age or level of fitness.
There's still oodles of space at the top of the hill. Again, the issue of right turns will have to be resolved. A second possibility is that right turns are allowed but no special right turn area is provided.
It will be important to make safe provision for people on bikes at the busy junction with Leadhall Lane.
Immediately after the junction there are two lanes (towards Harrogate) for such a short distance that it's just pointless, and this space should be used for a bike lane. Thought will have to be given to the bus stop arrangements though.
Perhaps from the Leadhall Lane junction, it could be a bus and cycle lane. (If it's to be used by children cycling to school, there would have to be a strict Code of Conduct for bus drivers that - even where a person on a bike isn't necessarily following the rules perfectly - they absolutely always give them plenty of room, and never put them in danger).
In the other direction, care will be needed in making provision in front of the row of shops.
Safe bike lanes benefit non-car drivers such as young people; they can get around independently when traffic danger is removed. At the moment many young people (and adults) find Leeds Road too hostile, and they cycle on the pavement or are just put off altogether.
Safe arrangements are needed at the roundabout at the bottom of St George's Road - perhaps a Dutch-style roundabout.
The 'dual carriageway' element that follows is little-used (other than for the occasional overtake, often breaking the speed limit). Take it away and there'll be enough space for a protected bike route either side.
West Park is another very wide road. There are two driving lanes for cars, two parking lanes for cars, plus some central hatching. There should be ample space for protected bike lanes either side of West Park - taking care to make sure that arrangements at junctions are safe for the 'contra-flow' bike lane.
A more radical idea for West Park
Here's a more radical proposal for West Park: send traffic along York Place and Station Parade. Close West Park and Parliament Street to cars. Reclaim some space to expand the Stray. Allow pubs and hotels to have some outside space for terraces (and make a rent charge). Give the street over to cycling and walking, and maybe even a weekly market.