This is an assessment of three streets in south west Harrogate, as
cycle routes. They are West End Avenue, Arthurs Avenue, and Pannal
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Pannal Ash Road as a cycle route
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.
Vehicles triggering 20mph alert sign (registration
plates blurred out)
West End Avenue, Arthurs Avenue, & Pannal Ash Road:
West End Avenue
Try filtered permeability for a period of, say, 3 months, and ask
residents if they want to keep it permanently.
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.