19th March 2021
North Yorkshire County Council has abandoned its plans to improve walking and cycling on Oatlands Drive before a consultation on the designs even started.
It seems new designs are being prepared, but they are not yet available. As the council is now prioritising two-way motor traffic, space for wider pavements and proper width protected bike lanes will not be available.
North Yorkshire split the consultation for the Active Travel Fund ('ATF') schemes into Phases 1 and 2.
Phase 1 has taken place, and in theory it was only about the locations of the schemes and whether they were suitable for active travel improvements. In reality, the county council had already published significant details of its plans.
We are now in the strange position where North Yorkshire has caved in on the details of its Oatlands Drive plans without even going through the consultation process it had scheduled. That is shambolic and unprofessional.
Advisory cycle lanes are known as moord strookjes, or killing lanes, in Belgium. Academic research has found that they are 34% more dangerous than no infrastructure at all.
In its new Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance, the DfT recognises that they are not acceptable for safe cycling.
Worse, the advisory lanes on Oatlands Drive are 1m05 wide, half the Desirable Minimum of 2m, and way below the Absolute Minimum of 1m50 (at constraints).
The guidance is clear that below 1m50, cycle lanes should not be used. No one has suggested that there are exceptional circumstances justifying them in this case.
'...authorities will need to satisfy the Department that they have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians (both groups rather than one or the other), including on strategic corridors. Schemes that do not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded'
Department for Transport letter to local authorities
When the new designs are published, we will see if they meet these conditions. If not, North Yorkshire deserves to lose this funding.