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Luchon Way, Harrogate

Luchon Way, Harrogate

There's a cycling route from the Co-op garage on the A61 Ripon Road, near the Hydro, towards the town centre, enabling people on bikes to avoid the busy main road. The sign on Coppice Avenue indicating 'town centre' leads to a little shared cycle and foot path through a park, Luchon Way.

It's taken me a while to realise this, but it must be named after Bagneres-de-Luchon, Harrogate's twin town in the French Pyrenees, which regularly features on the Tour de France route (for example, Stage 16 of the 2018 Tour de France).

I've had a look at the route, which has some good features. Extra signage was added in early 2015, but I still have some suggestions for improvements.

The 'cycle lane' by the Co-op

Awful cycle lane by Co-op garage, Ripon Road, Harrogate

Unfortunately, this cycling facility starts off badly. The photo above shows the 'cycle lane' outside the Co-op garage.

There is a cycle lane by the Hydro, on the other side of the road, so cyclists might be using the crossing on their bikes, and it makes sense for there to be a cycle lane here. But the 'cycle lane' is about 15 metres of pavement, which gets as far as the exit from the Co-op garage, and stops there with some 'give way' white lines. After giving way to vehicles exiting the garage, presumably you go back onto the road before turning left on C0ppice Avenue. 

This is the kind of silly cycling non-facility which makes anyone riding a bike think the local authority doesn't understand cycling. There is no point in painting a cycling lane on the pavement for 15 metres, then it just running out. This does not help any cyclist in any way, and it's amazing that nobody realised that before it was planned and painted. 

Part of the issue here is the usual assumption that anyone riding a bike is a third class user of roads/pavements, and must always have the lowest priority. Why is it that cars (or cyclists using the road) have priority over vehicles pulling out of a garage, but cyclists using a cycle lane do not? A similar thing can be seen a short distance away on Skipton Road, where the cycle lane has white 'give way' lines, asking cyclists to give way to a bus stop.

Cyclists give way to bus stop, Skipton Road, Harrogate

If you actually want people to cycle, and make use of cycle lanes, then you have to make them convenient, and provide some continuity to the journey. 

The painted lane outside the Co-op garage is nonsense. It should be replaced with something of decent quality. It is time the local authorities worked to better standards, and produced usable, convenient, and safe cycle lanes.

Luchon Way route: overview map

This map shows the route from Ripon Road towards the station:

Map of cycle route including Luchon Way

(Although Luchon Way is shown as footpath only on OpenCycleMap (brown dotted line), it is in fact cycle and footpath).

Luchon Way route: photos and route notes

Cycling sign to Harrogate town centre from Ripon Rd   Claro Beagle

There used to be a blue sign near the Co-op garage indicating 1 mile to the town centre, but oddly, it has been removed. Now, the first sign is hidden away on Coppice Avenue. It's easier to follow than the old one, as long as you know the route is there; if you don't know, you probably won't see the sign. 

The route goes up Coppice Gate (with the Claro Beagle on the left), which leads to Hampsthwaite Road. You go straight across Hampsthwaite Road into the park, and follow the cycle and foot path, Luchon Way. It is signposted, but arriving from Coppice Gate, you can't see the signs, as they are sideways on (attached to the lamppost in the photo below). 

Luchon Way, Harrogate

(It is the case with a lot of blue cycling signs in Harrogate that they have been attached to lampposts, probably because it's cheaper than having a dedicated post for the signs, but the lampposts are not quite in the right place, so the signs are rather approximate).

It's a nice path up through the park, and it arrives at Coppice Drive. This map shows the first part of the route:

Map showing Luchon Way

In early 2015, a sign was added at the end of the Luchon Way, indicating the continuation of the route.

End of Luchon Way   Studley Road, Harrogate

Turn left on Coppice Drive, and you arrive at King's Road. (Turn right to the International Centre). The cycle route continues straight across, on Studley Road. At the top of Studley Road, where there's a gate with a lion on it, turn left, then right through an alleyway. 

Path near Coppice Drive  Alleyway at top of Franklin Mount

At the other end of the alleyway, go straight on, past Cafe Rosso. 

Cafe Rosso, Harrogate

This road leads to a pedestrian bridge over the railway line, with the dreaded 'cyclists dismount' sign. At the other end of the bridge, it's right on Dragon Road, then continue on Dragon Parade to East Parade.

Cyclists dismount sign before railway bridge  Railway bridge

When I first looked at this route in 2014, there were no signs beyond Luchon Way, and I assumed the route went up Franklin Mount, then left along Franklin Road. Signs have been put in in early 2015, indicating the route over the railway on the footbridge - which I had originally discounted as a cycle route, because you're not allowed to cycle over the bridge. The map below now shows both versions of the second part of the route:

Map showing Franklin Mount

Luchon Way route: summary of suggestions for improvements

1) Replace the 15 metres of useless 'cycle lane' outside the Co-op with a decent cycle lane that doesn't give way to traffic exiting the garage, and continues as far as Coppice Avenue. 

2) Put signs that can be seen at the start of Luchon Way.

3) Think of a way of avoiding putting 'cyclists dismount' signs on an official cycling route.

Do you have any more comments or suggestions?

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