NYCC bid for active travel funds

5th June 2020

County Hall, Northallerton
County Hall, Northallerton

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is bidding for active travel funds from the government.

The total allocated to NYCC or for which they are bidding - NYCC's web page isn't clear about that - is £1.3 million. Of that sum, £266,000 is being made available immediately.

Emergency funding

The £266,000 is for temporary measures in response to the pandemic, such as widened pavements and pop-up bike lanes. These projects must be started within four weeks of the money being made available.

Further bid

The later bid for £1.1 million will, NYCC says, be guided by their Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure plans. (I'm aware of a long Phase 1 report by consultants WSP identifying 'priority corridors' for cycle routes, but nothing that contains specific projects. I haven't seen a Walking Infrastructure Plan at all).

Councillor Mackenzie

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, who is Cabinet Member for Highways and Cycling Champion, says in the article that North Yorkshire has "a long-standing commitment to active, sustainable travel..."

He was keen to stress how little could be done with this money. He said NYCC would be looking to make 'small but effective improvements'. He said it would not fund major projects:

"To give some context, if the £1.3m were to be spent solely on new permanent segregated cycle routes it would be sufficient to pay for about three kilometres, less than two miles, of cycle path."

"We know that there are many people across North Yorkshire who are enthusiastic about sustainable, active travel, as we are, and we are keen to hear suggestions for consideration, but in relation to this current funding it is important to keep those suggestions realistic."

Councillor Don Mackenzie

More context

I'd also like to give this some context. NYCC are spending £4 million to increase capacity for traffic at four junctions in Scarborough. They are spending £52.6 million on road improvements. NYCC does have a transport budget, and how it is spent is a choice.

The county council asked the people of Harrogate what we wanted to do about congestion. The bypass promoted by Councillor Mackenzie was rejected; the clear answer was 'invest in active and sustainable travel options'.

One of the lessons Mr Mackenzie thinks he learnt from the Congestion Survey was that it's not just up to the county council to resolve congestion, but it's down to individual travel choices. In truth though, travel choices are made in the context of the infrastructure provided by the council. Leaving it to individuals won't work and is an abdication of responsibility.

Contact NYCC

People are invited to contact NYCC with suggestions - see their article for a link to their contact page. Note that it is their standard contact form. They have made no effort to provide a dedicated platform for active travel suggestions.