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Victoria Avenue cycle route

Victoria Avenue, Harrogate

Victoria Avenue, Harrogate

Victoria Avenue is an important cycle route in Harrogate. People coming from various parts of Harrogate ride along it to reach cycle parking near the centre of town at Princes Square.

Victoria Avenue cycle route: map

On the map above, Victoria Avenue is shown in red, Princes Square in yellow, Beech Grove in green, South Park Road in dark orange, and Stray Rein in light orange. Click at the top left of the frame to see the key.

Victoria Avenue cycle route: what it's like for cycling

The good

There are several surprisingly good bits of cycle infrastructure design on the Victoria Avenue.

A lot of people who cycle into town use the bike parking (Sheffield stands) at Princes Square. Coming back from Princes Square to Victoria Avenue, it's left turn only for cars, but there's a little gap in the middle-of-the-road parking, to allow a person riding a bike to turn right. This is very thoughtful and helpful.

Right turn for bikes on Victoria Avenue

Right turn for bikes from Princes Square onto Victoria Avenue

There's a similar innovation to access Victoria Avenue from Beech Grove - it's left turn only for vehicles, but there's a straight on option for bikes. At the crossing of Station Parade when travelling west on Victoria Avenue, again there's a straight on option for bikes only.

Junction of Victoria Ave and Station Parade

Straight on option for bikes only at the junction of Victoria Avenue & Station Parade, when going west

The bad

If you look at the main photo at the top of the page, you can see the main problem with cycling on Victoria Avenue. You have to ride far enough away from the parked cars to your left so that you don't get 'doored' if someone opens their car door without looking. Drivers don't always understand this.

At most points along Victoria Avenue, there isn't enough space for a Highway Code overtake, so drivers should wait. If they overtake, they should do so very carefully, and leaving as much space as possible.

Victoria Avenue isn't all that busy at most times of day, so it isn't an awful road to cycle, but if you ride it regularly, you will get a few dangerous close passes.

The worst bit is just after the junction of Station Parade, heading east. Drivers have been sitting at the traffic lights thinking 'must get past'. When the lights change, they don't overtake as you cross Station Parade, but immediately afterwards - just as the road narrows due to parked cars on the left.

Victoria Avenue near Westminster Bridge

Victoria Avenue, pinch point just after junction with Station Parade

Bad overtakes happen all the time here. I know what's coming, but I haven't figured out what to do about it.

There is something the local councils could do, though - remove the three parking spaces on the left here, so the road is wide enough for impatient drivers to overtake.

The roundabout

Roundabout, Victoria Avenue

Roundabout, Victoria Avenue

There's a roundabout at the junction of Victoria Avenue and Marlborough Road and South Park Road. It occurs to me that this is a suitable place for a Dutch-style roundabout - cycling around the outside, and vehicles in the middle, with vehicles giving way to people on bikes when entering and leaving the roundabout.

Dutch roundabout, Utrecht

Dutch roundabout, Utrecht

Victoria Avenue cycle route: link to Beech Grove

Beech Grove, Harrogate

One way of getting to and from Victoria Avenue is on Beech Grove. This is not a good cycle route, and I've made some suggestions for improvements on a separate Beech Grove page.

Victoria Avenue cycle route: link to East Parade

East Parade, Harrogate

From Victoria Avenue, you can reach Asda and the Dragon cycleway via Marlborough Road, North Park Road, and East Parade.

East Parade is quite busy and intimidating, and going downhill (north), the cycle infrastructure is no help at all. If it can't be sorted out, maybe people should be signed to go via East Park Road, Chelmsford Road, Hyde Park Road, Bower Road, and Dragon Parade.

In the other direction (uphill; south), one-way systems make the alternative route impractical. The cycle infrastructure going uphill on East Parade is very poor, but there's no reason why it couldn't be sorted out.

Victoria Avenue cycle route: link to Stray Rein

South Park Road, Harrogate

South Park Road, bikes only lane

Turning right at the roundabout on Victoria Avenue, you take South Park Road. It's a no through road for vehicles, but you can use it on a bike - there's a special bike lane, and bike traffic lights to cross York Place to Stray Rein. This is very good.

South Park Road

South Park Road, junction with York Place

In the opposite direction, riding along Stray Rein and crossing York Place to South Park Road, there's also a bikes only straight on option, with bike traffic lights - again, very good. Stray Rein is quiet and therefore a good cycle route.

Stray Rein

Stray Rein, junction with York Place

Victoria Avenue cycle route: assessment & suggestions

As Manchester's Walking & Cycling Commissioner Chris Boardman says, it shouldn't require bravery to ride a bike.

As soon as you ask people to ride their bikes on busy roads, you put them in danger - because not all drivers are patient and considerate all the time. It will require bravery to ride a bike, and the result will be that most people just won't do it.

That's why some of the little bike-only options on and around Victoria Avenue are great - they take you away from traffic, and you feel much safer.

That's also why the junction of Victoria Avenue and Station Parade (going east) isn't great, because a pinch point immediately after the junction means that conflict is designed into the road. Removing those few car parking spaces on the left would help, as I've suggested above. Is there another solution? A bike phase on the traffic lights, giving you 15 seconds head start, would also tackle the problem.

Equally, the roundabout on Victoria Avenue is a location where people riding bikes will encounter traffic and danger. There is plenty of space, and it is not a very busy route, so this would be an ideal place to try out a Dutch style roundabout.

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Beech Grove

Beech Grove, Harrogate

This route links the junction of West Park & Victoria Avenue, in town, with Otley Road. Beech Grove is better than the alternative on the main roads, but there is still a considerable volume of traffic. I look at the problems, and how to solve them. Read about cycling on Beech Grove.

East Parade

Give way to the bin, East Parade cycle lane

East Parade has a cycle lane in each direction. The lane going uphill (south) is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. See photos, my description of the lane and its problems, and my suggestions for improvements. The lane going downhill (north) is just painted white lines in some places but not all, and it is of no help to a person riding a bike; it often feels dangerous riding north. Read about cycle facilities on East Parade.

Victoria Avenue, Harrogate Victoria Avenue, HarrogateCycle straight on option, Victoria Avenue

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