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
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 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.
Straight on option for bikes only at the junction of Victoria
Avenue & Station Parade, when going west
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
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, pinch point just after junction with Station
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.
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
Victoria Avenue cycle route: link to Beech Grove
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
Victoria Avenue cycle route: link to East Parade
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, 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, 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, junction with York Place
Victoria Avenue cycle route: assessment & suggestions
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
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.