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Cycling campaign group bemoans "huge disappointment" as cycle lane and Dutch-style roundabout plans scrapped

"From a cycling point of view, most of the worthwhile elements have been stripped out of the scheme..."...

A cycling campaign group in Harrogate has called the withdrawal of plans to build safe cycling infrastructure as part of an £11.2 million 'Station Gateway' project, including the construction of a Dutch-style roundabout, a "huge disappointment" with "the worthwhile elements" for cycling now "stripped out of the scheme".

North Yorkshire Council has pulled the plug on many of the infrastructure proposals, a judicial review launched by commercial developer Hornbeam Park Developments initially temporarily halting work — the cycle lanes, reduction to the width of the road, and plans for a Dutch-style roundabout now scrapped permanently.

Dutch-style roundabout (North Yorkshire Council)

A bus lane and new cycle parking at the railway station is the extent of the new proposals for cyclists, campaign group Harrogate District Cycle Action (HDCA) releasing a statement, published in The Stray Ferret, accusing the council of removing "most of the worthwhile elements" for cyclists.

"From a cycling point of view, most of the worthwhile elements have been stripped out of the scheme," the group said. "If cycle parking had been proposed on its own, we would have supported it. If cycle parking is all that's left of what was an ambitious scheme which would also have enabled people to reach the station by bike in safety and comfort, it will inevitably be a huge disappointment.

> Harrogate pub owner who blocked cycle lane says he's "being punished" after council asks to remove all barriers

"Driving is, by definition, unsustainable transport, and in our view TCF [Transforming Cities Fund] money should not be spent on this. Five sets of lights are coordinated along West Park/Parliament Street. What is the effect for pedestrians? Extremely long wait times. 

"To see the long wait times at the prestige town centre location outside Bettys is shameful. We can expect the same thing on Station Parade."

Malcolm Margolis, a member of the group who was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2019 for services to cycling in the town, added his belief that the scheme would have "made Harrogate a better place to live".

"The main way that Station Gateway could have made Harrogate a better place to live was by reducing the dominance of motor vehicles – and the noise, danger and pollution that they cause – in the town centre, by reducing Station Parade to one lane," he said.

"It seems that is now not going to happen, so TCF will not have a transformative effect on Harrogate, whatever the final details. The most disappointing aspect of all is that it is proposed to spend sustainable transport funding to prioritise cars."

Work on the amended scheme is not expected to begin until next autumn, the council now required to run a public consultation, publish Traffic Regulation Orders, and submit a business case to West Yorkshire Combined Authority first.

There are concerns the autumn 2024 start date could leave works perilously close to the deadline set by the Department for Transport for the project to be completed before March 2025.

> Council scraps £500,000 Harrogate cycle lane expansions… even though majority support plans

When news of the judicial review was first announced in the summer, HDCA said it was "desperately disappointing" to see the project put "in jeopardy".

The year's events come four years on from the town hosting the world's best professional cyclists for the UCI World Championships in 2019, just last week HDCA accusing the council of "failing our children" following no "significant cycling infrastructure" being built "for nine years".

"Harrogate could have had a first-class walking and cycling network… but we're bound by a focus on people in their cars," the group said, in criticism similar to what has been heard again this week.

And in September, Harrogate cyclists branded plans to upgrade a minor, largely traffic-free road into an off-road cycle route as an "outrageous waste of money", campaigners saying the new proposals will "not make a meaningful difference to the cycle network" and that cyclists "need safe routes, not more signposts".

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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15 comments

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polainm | 2 months ago
2 likes

There are no Dutch roundabouts in the UK. Some attempts have been made in Cambridge but all a mess. I actually redrew one 'design' open to public consultation, that used CROW standards. No response, ignored. The result is a hazardous pastiche. 

It's rot right at the top, of developers and councils, who at best find 'cyclists' an irritation, some hate them. To implement anything of value is bourne out of the requirement to meet token Active Travel Plans to access funding. 

In relation to most of Europe in sustainable transport infrastructure, the UK is going backwards....this is The Plan for Drivers. 

Black Cat roundabout redevelopment will start soon, to improve driver times by about 10 minutes. Budget: £1000,000,000.

It's not that there isn't the budget to build cycle infrastructure properly. It is a clear fact that governments central and local will not build it. 

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chrisonabike replied to polainm | 2 months ago
0 likes

I'd agree with you and I've seen some risible (if it wasn't a waste of cash for a likely decrease in safety) "Dutch-style" roundabouts.

One exception - I've not been to see the Cambridge one and it's obviously not identical to Dutch specs but I've read that it's good enough?  For example, Ranty Highwayman (who certainly does understand the fine points both in UK and NL) visited, tried it and gave it a positive write up.  Also looks reasonable  on Camcycle's video.

I thought the problem with the Cambridge one is the second and third problems with UK cycle infra: connections elsewhere are lacking / not good and UK cycle infra is so rare and non-standard in general that drivers either never encounter it or can't "learn" it because each design is different.

I haven't had a chance to try the Manchester style "cyclops" junctions either.  I'm a bit more dubious about those because "invented here" (why? just copy what works...) although they *might* be fine - if we could only standardise / have these everwhere...

(For comparison - standard Dutch designs here, and David Hembrow's recommended "safer" Dutch design here).

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chrisonabike | 2 months ago
1 like

The article is about the horse that never ran so this is all moot - but as is expected this ... isn't very Dutch.  On the surface, but as soon as you look the the details issues start to appear - assuming the visualisation is representative.

The roundabout - appears to have a small radius (good) but there is a ton of tarmac there.  There are multiple-lane entries (no).  Some of the lanes narrow on entry but not all, and not for long enough.  The cycle lane is narrow (albeit this is appears to be one direction only, not bi-directional.  Pros and cons to the latter but it can improve convenience).  The motor vehicle waiting areas inside the cycle path are too small (probably because they've retained tons of asphalt for multiple lanes...)

In fact it appears this roundabout was still designed to accommodate far more motor vehicles than is compatible with a cycle roundabout of this nature.  Consider the pedestrian crossings - they are staggered and also narrow and there are traffic lights.  You don't see that in the Dutch case - because there shouldn't be many vehicles and they certainly shouldn't be approaching quickly.  I bet "design speeds" in the UK case are higher than in NL.

Here's the visualisation side-by-side with an actual roundabout in NL.

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
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On the main image at top - all kinds of "making it up as we go along" oddness on display.  There's no continuous footway at a side street.  There's a bidirectional cycle ... lane?  What is that - there's no separation for a cyclist travelling towards oncoming traffic.  If you're cycling away from the viewpoint (upwards in the image) you have to do some kind of do-si-do with a cyclist turning right to come towards the viewpoint e.g. your lane moves from left to right.  No idea what the whole mini junction thing is doing or where they summoned that from...

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HarrogateSpa | 2 months ago
8 likes

We are very disappointed in North Yorkshire Council.

There is a lack of political will from the Executive to deliver projects, and a lack of technical competence by officers. Active Travel England have so far been unable to make a difference.

Harrogate Station Gateway was the one project that looked as though it might be worthwhile and proceed, helped by oversight from West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Once the council decided not to fight the court case, it was left in the position of doing the bidding of the private company that had brought it.

Time and again, cycling projects in Harrogate are delayed, diluted and abandoned. NYC is a Level 1 council, but in reality it deserves Level 0.

If a council can't or won't deliver anything, ever, it should be Level 0.

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Secret_squirrel replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 months ago
0 likes

Was it all to do with the Court case?  Or other reasons?

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HarrogateSpa replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
2 likes

Mostly due to the court case - they are stuck doing what Hornbeam Park Developments want, or they'll probably face another judicial review.

Cost is another aspect. They have already spent £2 million of the £11 million on consultants to get to this point, and construction costs are going up.

So they might have had to remove elements of the scheme anyway, but presumably it wouldn't have been all the active travel elements.

They are going to end spending most of the sustainable transport money on prioritising cars through synchronising a series of traffic lights.

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wtjs replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 months ago
1 like

If a council can't or won't deliver anything, ever, it should be Level 0

Sounds like Lancashire Constabulary!

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eburtthebike | 2 months ago
12 likes

We seem to be edging ever closer to the USA model of big corporations dominating life to the detriment of everybody else, but hey!  it's profit innit.

Couldn't resist posting this:

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lesterama replied to eburtthebike | 2 months ago
6 likes

The Tesla pic is missing and you've just killed a pedestrian in an inocuous 10mph impact.

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mark1a replied to eburtthebike | 2 months ago
6 likes

That Tesla Cybertruck - it looks like the result of what would happen if a DeLorean got through the fence into the field where the Ford Ranger was kept.

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brooksby replied to mark1a | 2 months ago
5 likes
mark1a wrote:

That Tesla Cybertruck - it looks like the result of what would happen if a DeLorean got through the fence into the field where the Ford Ranger was kept.

I've always thought it looks like something driving around the streets in a dystopian sci-fi film made for a low budget in about 1983...

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:
mark1a wrote:

That Tesla Cybertruck - it looks like the result of what would happen if a DeLorean got through the fence into the field where the Ford Ranger was kept.

I've always thought it looks like something driving around the streets in a dystopian sci-fi film made for a low budget in about 1983...

Exactly that - it's for people cosplaying the films of their youth (80s / 90s)!

Or alternatively - those worried that the streets of the future will work like Robot Wars!

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
2 likes

Hmm... probably needs a bike "from the future" (in the 80s) to match also.

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eburtthebike replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:

I've always thought it looks like something driving around the streets in a dystopian sci-fi film made for a low budget in about 1983...

Or tv: Blake's Seven.

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