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West End Ave, Arthurs Ave, & Pannal Ash Rd

West End Avenue, Harrogate

West End Avenue, Harrogate

This is an assessment of three streets in south west Harrogate, as cycle routes. They are West End Avenue, Arthurs Avenue, and Pannal Ash Road.

Harrogate town cycle routes: map

On the map above, West End Avenue is shown in lilac, Arthurs Avenue in pink-purple, and Pannal Ash Road in a pastel blue. Click at the top left of the frame to see the key.

West End Avenue as a cycle route

The problems

West End Avenue is a long, straight, residential road. It ought to be absolutely fine to cycle along, but it is not.

The problem is obvious from the main photo at the top of this page. Although there is one lane for each direction, West End Avenue is effectively turned into a single carriageway route by parked cars on either side.

When people turn onto West End Avenue in their cars, they see the straight road ahead, they think 'here we go', and they accelerate away. That's just the way it is - it must be human nature.

Oncoming traffic

When you're riding a bike and there's an oncoming vehicle, most often the driver just assumes that you'll get out of the way. They drive straight at you, expecting you to move, or to squeeze right up against the parked cars, so they can get past without slowing down. In fact, it's unwise to ride right next to parked cars, in case you get 'doored', and if you do ride there, you get an unpleasant close pass from the oncoming car.

I move to the side and wait if there's a convenient space to do so. When I do, I rarely if ever get a wave of acknowledgement. That doesn't matter too much in itself, but it's indicative of the fact that most drivers don't consider you to be another 'real' road user, in the way that they would if you were driving a car.

If it's more convenient for the driver to pull in and wait, I expect them to do so, but most often I'm disappointed.

Overtaking

I've had problems with impatient drivers on West End Avenue getting frustrated if they can't overtake straight away -  which they often can't, because of the parked cars on both sides. One driver was initially in a great hurry, then had enough time to stop and look for an argument, telling me 'I gave you ample opportunity to pull over' [before I did my dangerous overtake]. Another drove much too close behind me, then shouted and swore at me out of his window when he went past.

Riding on the pavement

I'm a reasonably confident cyclist, and I'm determined to keep riding, but I avoid West End Avenue - I use Park Avenue instead.

I believe I'm not the only one who finds it intimidating. I've noticed that any children riding here are on the pavement, and even a lot of adults.

A solution

You should be able to ride a bike along a residential street without feeling intimidated.

Walking on West End Avenue could be made safer too. Not that many cars use the road, but many of those that do, go too fast for the conditions. It makes it more dangerous than it should be to cross the street, especially since parked cars block sight lines for people crossing, and for drivers. That's a worry, because West End Avenue is used by children as a route to Harrogate Grammar School.

There are a lot of houses on West End Avenue, and not many of them have garages. Street parking is necessary for residents, so I suggest none should be removed.

Filtered permeability

An example of filtered permeability in Harrogate

The best way to make West End Avenue safer would be to introduce filtered permeability - so people can still drive along it, but it can't be used as a through road. That should reduce the volume of traffic, and reduce speeds, as most drivers will also be residents.

Less traffic not only makes a road safer for walking and cycling, it also makes it a nicer place to live, where people are more likely to get to know their neighbours.

Arthurs Avenue as a cycle route

Arthurs Avenue, potholes

I tend to ride my bike along Arthurs Avenue in preference to Pannal Ash Road, because it is less busy. The road surface is shocking, though (September 2018). I don't know of a road in Harrogate where the tarmac has deteriorated more than it has on Arthurs Avenue and its continuation, Richmond Avenue.

As an aside, when I walked past the main entrance to Harrogate Grammar School, four or five cars were parked on the double yellow lines opposite, two of them with their engines running. There's lots of information now about the damage air pollution does to children's lungs, and even to their intelligence. In the light of that, it's disappointing that people - parents, presumably - choose to pump out exhaust fumes right outside the school. Could this be prevented?

I think Rossett Acre primary school have got the right idea, with their banner a bit further up Arthurs Avenue.

No stopping, no excuses banner

Pannal Ash Road as a cycle route

Pannal Ash Road, Harrogate

I dislike cycling on Pannal Ash Road, especially uphill (as I'm going slower and therefore more vulnerable). I seem to be subject to a bad overtake almost every time I'm there.

I don't know for sure, but I think the hatching in the middle of the road may be partly to blame. Drivers have the vague idea that they shouldn't cross it. They do cross onto it in order to overtake, but psychologically, it makes them reluctant to go as far over towards the other carriageway as they should in order to leave plenty of room. It's just a theory.

Pannal Ash Road has a 20mph limit for much of its length. From 10 minutes or so observing the traffic pass a 20mph alert sign, I would say that 0% of vehicles abide by the speed limit.

Pannal Ash Rd 20mph sign

Vehicles triggering 20mph alert sign (registration plates blurred out)

West End Avenue, Arthurs Avenue, & Pannal Ash Road: suggestions

West End Avenue

Try filtered permeability for a period of, say, 3 months, and ask residents if they want to keep it permanently.

Arthurs Avenue

Resurface the road.

Enforce the rules on parking outside the schools.

Ask people to turn their engines off when they are parked and waiting. (In Harrogate generally, it is surprising how often people sit in their cars with the engines running while waiting, texting, or eating lunch. Could an education campaign be carried out?)

Pannal Ash Road

Remove the hatching from the middle of the road.

Enforce the 20mph limit.

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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.

West End Avenue, Harrogate Arthurs Avenue, HarrogatePannal Ash Road, Harrogate