Cycling in Yorkshire & Beyond

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High Horse Button on Coach Road Harrogate

High horse push button at the top of Coach Road, Harrogate
High horse push button at the top of Coach Road, Harrogate

The push button at the top of Coach Road, Harrogate, is out of reach of everyone except horse riders and former England rugby player Martin Johnson.

It is emblematic of cycle provision in Harrogate – decent facilities are always just out of reach.

For anyone who can reach it, the button gives access to a green phase of the traffic lights at the junction of Coach Road, Hookstone Road, Hookstone Drive and Oatlands Drive.

Map showing Coach Road push button
Map showing Coach Road push button

If you don’t know the junction and can’t reach the button, you would sit at the top of Coach Road indefinitely waiting for a green light that never comes.

Why Has North Yorkshire Council Place the High Horse Button Out of Reach?

North Yorkshire Council (NYC) has deliberately placed the high horse push button out of reach of cyclists because it does not want us to have a green phase of the lights.

That would delay motor vehicles by a few seconds, and motor vehicles are at the top of the councils de facto transport hierarchy.

Upside down transport hierarchy
Upside down transport hierarchy

NYC doesn’t mind horse riders having a green phase because fundamentally there are none.

What Are Cyclists Expected to Do?

The council wants cyclists to use a pedestrian crossing of Hookstone Road, round the corner.

The pedestrian crossing doesn’t work for cyclists because:

  • there is insufficient space on the pavement at either end of the crossing, which is often very busy with school children
  • there are no onward shared use facilities at the other side of the crossing; to continue from Coach Road, cyclists need to be on the road
  • if turning right onto Hookstone Drive, the pedestrian crossing of Hookstone Road gets you to the wrong place entirely so doesn’t help

But we see repeatedly all around Harrogate that the council simply doesn’t care if cycling facilities work or join up.

What is the Evidence that it is Deliberate?

There is evidence that the placing of the high horse button is deliberate, not incompetence or an oversight.

Harrogate Cycle Action has asked NYC to remedy the situation over a number of years, but the answer is always the same: no.

The council even made a successful bid for an active travel scheme in the Oatlands area in 2020, with money awarded from Active Travel Fund 2.

No on-the-ground improvements have resulted. NYC used the money for a consultation instead, which showed that people want change.

As the high horse push button demonstrates, even the smallest changes are not happening because the council lacks the will to prioritise active travel.

A Twitter thread on this issue provoked a lively debate.

High Horse Button on Coach Road Harrogate