Is this the worst cycle path in Harrogate?
22nd October 2020
It's on the corner of Oak Beck Road and the A59, and it's about 13 metres long. This surrealist work of bicycle-related art is adorned at one end with an END OF ROUTE sign; a CYCLISTS DISMOUNT instruction is the humorous accessory at the other end.
This is a monument to brainlessness, in tarmac and steel.
A lot of intelligent and well-qualified people are involved in highways infrastructure: Councillors, local authority planners, highways officers, contractors and engineers. How on earth do they manage to sign off and build something so idiotic?
Housing development on the A59
There is a massive housing development on the A59 Skipton Road between the New Park and Old Spring Well roundabouts. Developers include Bellway and Persona. The people who live in these houses should be able to get to Oak Beck Park (their nearest supermarket) by bike. Can they?
The developers are building a shared use path along the front of the development. It doesn't go anywhere.
There's a crossing to the other side of the A59, where the pavement is divided in two by a white line. This is also a Path to Nowhere: at both ends, the permission to cycle on the pavement (not that that's what people want) terminates.
The answer is, no they can't get to Oak Beck Park by bike - unless they're happy for huge trucks to thunder past them, or they illegally use the pavement. 'No we can't' is not what Obama would have wanted to hear.
In their applications for planning permission, developers search for the nearest path that they can claim as cycle infrastructure, regardless of whether it actually takes people to the places they want to go. Then the developers don't have to spend any money contributing to a network; they just claim active travel is already provided for. In this case, it was probably Jennyfield Drive they identified. It seems that Harrogate Borough Council rubber stamped that as acceptable.
It isn't acceptable. Jennyfield Drive cycle path is of poor quality, and must be improved to modern standards. People must be guided from developments to cycle routes, and looked after all the way. That's not the case.
More importantly, Jennyfield Drive is one route, not a network. People need to be able to get to many destinations by bike - that's made crystal clear in Cycle Infrastructure Design.
Cycle Infrastructure Design
Cycle Infrastructure Design is a truly excellent document. We now have first-class standards for cycle infrastructure on paper, but we need to see them applied, so we have the physical cycle routes to match.
Cycle Infrastructure Design says:
- cycling must no longer be treated as marginal or an afterthought, it must be placed at the heart of the transport network
- routes should allow people to reach their day-to-day destinations on routes that connect and are of a consistent high quality
- routes must be direct
- no shared use paths in urban areas: cycles must be treated as vehicles, not as pedestrians
- cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic
- the CYCLISTS DISMOUNT sign should not normally be used - on a well-designed facility, it is very rarely appropriate and represents a discontinuity in the journey, which is highly disruptive
- applications for development should give first priority to pedestrian and cycle movements
According to Cycle Infrastructure Design, new housing development provides a major opportunity to create new and improved cycle infrastructure. Developments that do not adequately make provision for cycling should not be approved. It will not usually be acceptable to maintain an existing poor level of service.
Ride from the development to the Oak Beck Park miracle bike path. Can you honestly say that the existing poor level of service has been improved?