Cycling in Yorkshire & Beyond

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North Yorkshire to Waste £10,000 on Unwanted Cycle Signage Review

Twitter poll on cycle signage review
Twitter poll on cycle signage review

North Yorkshire Council (NYC) intends to waste £10,000 of public money on an unwanted cycle signage review in Harrogate & Knaresborough.

The proposed cycle signage review is part of a package of ‘sustainable transport’ measures announced as a replacement for construction of the Otley Road Cycleway.

Unnecessary cycle signage review for £10,000
Unnecessary cycle signage review for £10,000

The money will almost certainly be paid to consultants WSP to review the current signposts and write a report.

In a Hedgehog Cycling poll on Twitter, 96% of 116 respondents said that Harrogate & Knaresborough needs new cycle routes not more signposts.

Local Sustainable Transport Fund

Cycle signage on Slingsby Walk
Cycle signage on Slingsby Walk

Harrogate’s cycle network, such as it is, was comprehensively signposted in 2014 using money from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).

Signposts only get you so far.

If the quality of the routes isn’t there, you end up signing sub-standard itineraries or dangerous roads, such as Otley Road which carries 9,000 vehicles a day.

Signs directing cyclists along a section of Otley Road with no cycle infrastructure
Signs directing cyclists along a section of Otley Road with no cycle infrastructure

At some point, the council needs to actually improve the existing cycle routes and build new ones. That point has been reached.

There is no need for a review of the signing work that was done 9 years ago. The cycle network has not changed since then. No new routes have been added since the Yorkshire Showground Greenway in 2014.

Harrogate Cycle Action

Harrogate Cycle Action's proposed Cricket Ground Quietway
Harrogate Cycle Action’s proposed Cricket Ground Quietway

There are a few errors in the current signage which Harrogate Cycle Action have pointed out to NYC. NYC has failed to act to correct these errors.

Harrogate Cycle Action have also suggested improving the route from south Harrogate via the cricket ground to the town centre, and branding it the Cricket Ground Quietway.

As well as signing, hard infrastructure measures would be needed to create a high-quality Cricket Ground Quietway.

NYC has so far failed to act on the suggestion for a Cricket Ground Quietway. Developing it would be a far better use of the £10,000.

Use of Consultants by NYC

NYC often defaults to using consultants.

That would be ok if they were taking advantage of skills that the council itself does not have in order to make on-the-ground improvements to Harrogate’s cycle network.

Instead this is what happens time and again:

  1. NYC pays consultants a large sum of money to write a report or do a design, often out of funding intended for on-the-ground improvements
  2. NYC receives the report and shelves it. It gathers dust
  3. NYC explains that any on-the-ground improvements are “subject to funding”
  4. NYC does nothing indefinitely

That is how funding is used up in North Yorkshire without producing any results.

Three examples follow.

Harrogate Cycle Infrastructure Plan

WSP's four routes in the Harrogate Cycle Infrastructure Plan
WSP’s four routes in the Harrogate Cycle Infrastructure Plan

One example is the Harrogate Cycle Infrastructure Plan, which identified four corridors where cycle infrastructure should be built. Consultants WSP did detailed designs for the four routes; all their work was finished by 2019.

Since then, NYC have made no progress at all on any of the four routes. They haven’t even made any funding bids.

The money spent on consultants has resulted in zero on-the-ground improvements.

Walking Infrastructure Plan

NYC commissioned WSP to write a Walking Infrastructure Plan, which was completed in 2020 at a cost of £12,000.

Since then, no progress has been made on any of the recommendations in the report. NYC haven’t even made any funding bids. The walking plan isn’t even published on NYC’s LCWIP page.

The Walking Infrastructure Plan exists in a twilight zone where one council officer says it is ‘not yet in the public domain’, but another claims it has been in the public domain since 2021.

In any event they don’t seem keen to tell people about it, and they certainly haven’t done anything about it.

That is £12,000 of public money down the drain.

Sustainable Transport in the Oatlands Area

One-way design for Oatlands Drive
One-way design for Oatlands Drive

In 2020, NYC won Active Travel Fund 2 money for cycling projects including protected cycle infrastructure on Oatlands Drive. The Oatlands scheme was worth £215,000.

It is now 2023, and NYC have built precisely nothing on Oatlands Drive, but they have spent all the money on consultants.

WSP did a report on a consultation and presented design options.

There is now no money left to actually build anything, which appears to suit NYC just fine.

Cycle Signage Review

What can we expect from the cycle signage review?

A report from WSP which NYC officers will read then shelve. ‘We haven’t got any funding to make any on-the-ground changes’, they will say.

£10,000 down the drain.

North Yorkshire to Waste £10,000 on Unwanted Cycle Signage Review