Miller Homes 'Cycleway' is not a Cycleway

3rd December 2020

Miller Homes 'Cycleway'
Miller Homes 'cycleway'

The Miller Homes 'cycleway' is not a cycleway. It is a pavement.

Miller Homes have resurfaced a pavement on Harlow Moor Road, and extended it slightly at the northern end. They should not describe this as 'a cycleway', because it is not a cycleway.

This is not how you build cycle infrastructure; this is not cycle infrastructure. Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) as the planning authority should not have accepted this design; North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) as the highways authority should not have accepted this design.

Cycle Infrastructure Design

A few points from LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design ('CID'):

Guidance in CID
What have Miller Homes done?
Treat cycles as vehicles, not as pedestrians. On urban streets, cyclists must be physically separated from pedestrians and should not share space with pedestrians (Summary Principle 2, page 9).
Treated cyclists as pedestrians and put them both together on a shared path.
Create space for cycling by taking space from the carriageway; don't reduce the level of service for pedestrians (6.1.9).
Reduced the level of service for pedestrians by making the pavement shared use.
Recommended minimum width of a shared use path: 3.0m (Table 6.3, page 30).
Width: 2.5m, reducing to 2.3m at the northern end.
DON'T require cyclists to give way at each side road (Figure 1.1).
Required cyclists to give way at each side road (Pinewoods Drive and Nursery Lane).

Safe and Convenient, not Safe or Convenient

Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic (Summary Principle 3, CID), so "ride on the road instead" is not a good excuse. For far too long, local authorities have asked people to choose between 'safe' and 'convenient' - you can have one or the other, but not both. That is not good enough.

We want more people to get about town by bike, and we know how to achieve that - provide infrastructure that is both safe and convenient. We know it works, we just need to start doing it. We've got the standards in CID, we just need to apply them.

I'll now comment further on some of the problems with the Miller Homes 'cycleway'.

Shared Use Paths

Person on a bike ignoring Miller Homes 'Cycleway'
Person on a bike ignoring the Miller Homes 'cycleway'

People who already get about by bike want protection from motor vehicles, but they are NOT asking to be shoved onto the pavement with pedestrians.

You have to keep slowing down or stopping for pedestrians who are (quite rightly) there. In the case of Harlow Moor Road, you go slower uphill, so that's where you most want protection - but the 'cycleway' is on the wrong side of the road, and you're not going to cross over to it, knowing you then have to cross back again without priority.

Riding uphill on Harlow Moor Road
Person riding uphill on Harlow Moor Road, ignoring 'cycleway' on the wrong side of the road

If you use the 'cycleway' you also lose priority at side roads, which brings me on to the next point.

Side Roads

Miller Homes 'cycleway' at Pinewoods Drive
Miller Homes 'cycleway' at Pinewoods Drive

Losing priority at side roads is another major reason why people on bikes will ignore you if you try to put them on pavements. Don't just take my word for it.

Cycling is a physical effort. Schemes should not impose constant stopping and starting...
Summary Principle 19, CID
Cycle lanes across side road junctions ensure continuity and help improve cycle safety.
6.4.10, CID
Side road entry treatments are raised tables across the mouth of the side road (see Chapter 10) and help reduce the speeds of vehicles turning in and out of the junction, further adding to the safety of cyclists. They also bring significant benefits to pedestrians.
6.4.13, CID

Another aspect of good design has been ignored at Pinewoods Drive: residential access streets should be given tight geometry that creates very low speed environments. Such streets are only used by local residents, their visitors and for deliveries, and there is no need to provide geometry that accommodates higher vehicle speed (7.5.1, CID).

Instead of following this good practice, the entrance to the Miller Homes site is as wide as a canyon, allowing fast vehicle speeds into it, and making it unsafe and unpleasant for people to cross.

Building Unusable 'Cycle Infrastructure' Along a Whole Route

Northern end of Miller Homes 'cycleway'
Nursery Lane end of the Miller Homes 'cycleway'

I took these photos in the gloaming yesterday, but you can see what happens at the northern end of the 'cycleway'. You give way at Nursery Lane, then you wait on a little patch of tarmac for a gap in the traffic, to cross to the other side of the road. Except that people won't actually do it.

Please Go and Look Before Designing Infrastructure

We've already got more than enough of these shared use pavements - for example, on Penny Pot Lane near the Army Barracks, and on Beckwith Head Road. All you need to do is go and look what happens: people don't use them. So before you spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of pounds designing and building this infrastructure, take the time to go and look, learn the lessons, and do something more useful.

Harlow Moor Road/Cornwall Road/Penny Pot Lane

The risk is that you end up with a whole route of unusable 'cycle infrastructure' between Otley Road and the large King Edwin Park housing development. Cycling boxes will have been ticked, but nothing useful will actually have been done for cycling - so please untick those boxes, and start again.

What Should be Done Instead?

If we want people to walk and cycle for short, local trips, we have to give more space and priority to people on foot and on bikes, and less to motor vehicles.

We need proper, dedicated bike lanes with physical protection from traffic - when going uphill, as a priority, because you're slower and more vulnerable.

If Penny Pot Lane has to be made one-way to find the space, make it one-way.

Provide secure bike shelters with electric charging sockets at the King Edwin Park development, provide top-quality infrastructure that looks after people from origin to destination, and encourage them to use it.

Action, not Words

I've heard lots of positive words about plans for active travel in Harrogate District, and that's great. The trouble is, it always seems to be 'jam tomorrow'. We always seem to be anticipating a big improvement just around the corner, whether it's the Otley Road Cycleway which is always just about to be built but never actually built, or the improvements on Beech Grove which we're still waiting to see.

Now we have these brilliant new standards in CID, but what happens when infrastructure is actually built? The new standards are totally ignored.

As Gear Change says (page 13), we need action, not just words.