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“It is openly anti-cycling infrastructure”: Cyclists debunk residents group’s flyer objecting to much-maligned cycle lane because it would replace a strip of grass verge

Cyclists accused the residents group of already having their minds made up after the “openly anti-cycling infrastructure” leaflet was distributed

A flyer objecting the installation of a cycle path in Harrogate that’s faced many months of controversy has irked the city’s cycling campaigners, who have not only debunked the points made in the group’s “hostile” leaflet, but also labelled it as “openly anti-cycling infrastructure”.

The Otley Road cycleway has been the site of a long drawn out challenge for cyclists in Harrogate to claim a segregated path for themselves on a busy road. The project was started in 2018, but it was on the chopping block in February last year following what cycling activists described as the “misleading” results of a report canvassing local opinion towards the scheme.

Harrogate District Cycling Action (HDCA) has previously spoken out against the North Yorkshire Council’s decisions, which according to them have left the city without any real no major new cycle routes over the last five years.

HDCA said that the first two phases of the Otley Road scheme have only served to improve travel for cars and have failed to improve safe cycling for individuals and families. Now with the third phase of the already hindered scheme set to get underway, it has lamented a residents group’s decision to distribute flyers objecting to the cycleway.

> Councillors urge Tory-led council to “get its act together so people can get out of cars” after series of “failed and abandoned” cycling schemes

The decision comes from Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents’ Association (HAPARA), an over 30-year-old group founded to represent the residents from Harlow Hill to Rossett Green and Arthurs Avenue to Castle Hill in the west side of Harrogate.

HDCA said that instead of welcoming phase 3 of the Otley Road cycle plans as a small step forward, HAPARA’s leaflet lists a long line of objections.

A HDCA spokesperson told the Harrogate Advertiser: "We are really disappointed by HAPARA’s opposition to Phase 3 of the Otley Road cycle path particularly on the basis that it would replace a strip of grass verge. Following this logic it would be impossible to create a good cycle network in Harrogate or anywhere else.

“From their flyer, it appears that the individuals in charge of HAPARA have already made up their minds, and are hostile to the proposed cycle way. HAPARA does not admit to being anti-cycling, but it is openly anti-cycling infrastructure.

“It, perhaps, does not realise it, but it appears be opposed to cycle infrastructure unless it’s on existing tarmac.”

> Campaigners accuse council of “failing our children” after failing to deliver “significant cycling infrastructure for nine years”

This has instigated the group into debunking the claims made by HAPARA, as follows:

1. HAPARA: Phase 2 of the Otley Road cycle path was cancelled in 2023 following the strong negative public response.

HDCA: "That claim is inaccurate. In reality, of the respondents who expressed a view: 104 were in favour of an Otley Road scheme and 83 were against.”

2. HAPARA: Construction of the Cycleway will result in the loss of five trees at the Beckwith Road Junction.

HDCA: “There is no need for any trees to be lost in order to create Phase 3 of the Otley Road Cycleway.

“If trees are to be cut down at the Beckwith Road junction, my understanding is that it would be because North Yorkshire Council and the housing developers want to widen the road for motor vehicles in order to create right-turn lanes.”

3. HAPARA: There will be an approximate 1.5m strip of grass verge lost along the entire length of Phase 3 – a noticeable loss of green landscape.

HDCA: “Grass will be lost so that all the new houses can be built on what was previously fields. Is HAPARA complaining about this loss of grass? Not in their flier.”

4. HAPARA: A better option would be to publicise the existing network of cycle paths to a greater extent.

HDCA: "Otley Road is very busy, and hostile to cycling.

“What alternative cycle route does HAPARA believe there is from Windmill Farm to the town centre, as part of ‘the existing network of cycle paths’? There isn’t one.”

Previously, the town’s council has been subject to scathing criticism from the cycling campaign. In November, it accused the council of not delivering any “significant active travel infrastructure” in Harrogate in the last nine years, adding that the council is “failing our children and grandchildren” by continuing to only focus on people in their cars.

> Campaigners blast “hugely disappointing” decision to abandon “failed” cycling schemes, four years on from hosting world championships

Campaigner Gia Margolis, speaking on behalf of the HDCA said: said: “Consultants have written reports which have all come to the same conclusion — most short journeys [in Harrogate] are less than 1.6 miles and too many are made by car.

“We’re asking you to stop talking and giving us false hope that things will change and look at why the council has failed to deliver any significant active travel schemes over the last nine years.”

“Harrogate could by now have had a first-class walking and cycling network which would have made a difference to all our lives but we’re bound by a focus on people in their cars.”

And just last month, the council, led by the Conservative party, came under fire from a Lib Dem councillors, who asked it to “step its game up” and “get its act together”, while a Green councillor added that “the frustration of people who want to cycle in Harrogate and Knaresborough isn’t being taken seriously”.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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28 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 4 weeks ago
16 likes

Bollocks to this insincere pseudo-concern about grass verges. They wouldn't hesitate to decimate (in the true sense of the word) much more greenery in favour of more 'convenient parking'. Looks like North Yorkshire Council, Harrogate Town Council and HAPARA are the spiritual home of 'pave Paradise, and put up a parking lot'. Hard Right Tories- who'd have guessed it?

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MattKelland | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

There will be an approximate 1.5 m wide strip of grass
verge lost along the entire length of Phase 3 - a
noticeable loss of green landscape. All at a time when
the talk is about climate change and the need to
conserve such natural infrastructure to the greatest
possible extent. Pedestrian facility will also be
compromised.

Astonishing levels of cognitive dissonance there.

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brooksby replied to MattKelland | 4 weeks ago
6 likes

MattKelland wrote:

There will be an approximate 1.5 m wide strip of grass verge lost along the entire length of Phase 3 - a noticeable loss of green landscape. All at a time when the talk is about climate change and the need to conserve such natural infrastructure to the greatest possible extent. Pedestrian facility will also be compromised. Astonishing levels of cognitive dissonance there.

Wait until you hear about HS2  3

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chrisonabike replied to MattKelland | 4 weeks ago
8 likes

Well I agree we're constantly paving paradise essentially because we all want to live longer and don't want to share our space.  Same in my city of Edinburgh - "we need more housing" - I too have all kinds of questions about that "need" and who benefits ...

However given that they are apparently going to be building 1300 houses just outside town on this road, and given that in the UK most people choose to drive short journeys in our polluting, climate-affecting vehicles* because we make that very convenient via road infrastructure...

... you seem to be most worried about losing a strip of grass 0.6 of a mile long?  Do I have you right?

EDIT - having looked on Streetview - a frequently very narrow, broken strip of grass?  Am I missing something?

* We're learning even EVs produce quite a lot of particulates locally from tyres and braking.  For the forseeable future the electricity won't all be from renewables - unless you've built your own renewable energy charging plant.  Then there are the large resource and energy costs of building the things...

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Ah - but trees.  Yes - it does look like this would affect trees maybe here?  That always seems to stir emotions - not just in the UK.  Unfortunately in the UK we've already uprooted so many in our streetscapes - but that wasn't because cycle infra though...

Looking at this road on the map it looks like it's a road that has possibly "overgrown" e.g. is now functioning as an arterial?  Not sure what exactly the Dutch would do here (well ... they do seem keen on building, they'd probably have a ring road put in for a start...).

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HarrogateSpa replied to chrisonabike | 4 weeks ago
8 likes

No trees need to be cut down for a cycleway.

There is consistently 4-6m of grass verge, plenty for a footway + bidirectional cycle track. I've measured it.

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tootsie323 replied to chrisonabike | 4 weeks ago
4 likes

* Slightly off-topic and somewhat pedantic here, but there is no evidence that tyre and brake partculates emitted from EVs is any worse than that for ICE-Vs (due to regen braking, EV brake wear is found to be better in this respect).

Having said that, EVs are not the solution to getting more people onto their bicycles. Neither are bulls***-concerns-over-a-small-strip-of-grass residents.

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hawkinspeter replied to tootsie323 | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

tootsie323 wrote:

* Slightly off-topic and somewhat pedantic here, but there is no evidence that tyre and brake partculates emitted from EVs is any worse than that for ICE-Vs (due to regen braking, EV brake wear is found to be better in this respect).

Having said that, EVs are not the solution to getting more people onto their bicycles. Neither are bulls***-concerns-over-a-small-strip-of-grass residents.

The tyre wear for (car shaped) EVs has to be more due to the heavier weights and the increased torque.

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FionaJJ replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
2 likes

ICE cars are getting heavier, increasing the particulate pollution from them too.

I think the point is that while electric cars are not a magic bullet to allow us to keep on driving as we do now, they aren't as bad as some anti-EV campaigners want us to believe. In particular, they play a useful contribution to the transition towards decarbonised transport, and don't have tail-pipe emissions. They are also much less noisy.

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chrisonabike replied to FionaJJ | 4 weeks ago
2 likes

FionaJJ wrote:

ICE cars are getting heavier, increasing the particulate pollution from them too.

I think the point is that while electric cars are not a magic bullet to allow us to keep on driving as we do now, they aren't as bad as some anti-EV campaigners want us to believe. In particular, they play a useful contribution to the transition towards decarbonised transport, and don't have tail-pipe emissions. They are also much less noisy.

I'd agree there are a lot people who want no change whatsoever (or rather just don't think about change, busy getting on with life).  Until something happens to actually prevent us we just keep filling up and driving as before!

There are then also a lot who say "nice things" about "decarbonisation" and "net zero" who do seem to think that essentially we'll just swap one for the other, job done.  Or, like "encouraging cycling", would like to tell nice stories without the hard facts of "change will mean ... change".  That is - disruption, and initially "losing the ability to do things how we did''.  I think that includes plenty in governments.  In one sense who can blame them - come out with the hard word which isn't even handing millions to your pals and you'll be out quick sharp!

While our emissions here in the UK have decreased substantially over say the last decade or so and "more renewable" energy has increased I do think there's a large measure of "out of sight, out of mind" and not counting how the raw materials get produced.

"Less noisy" - they can be a bit quieter at low speeds (ICE cars have improved over the years also) but at most speeds people drive the main noise is from the tyres, plus bangs from moving loads, ironwork on the road etc.

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levestane replied to chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

While our emissions here in the UK have decreased substantially over say the last decade or so...

I think this is because the emissions we drive through our consumption (imports) are not counted as UK emissions?

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hawkinspeter replied to levestane | 3 weeks ago
1 like

levestane wrote:

I think this is because the emissions we drive through our consumption (imports) are not counted as UK emissions?

We've out-sourced some of our pollution

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hawkinspeter replied to FionaJJ | 4 weeks ago
7 likes

FionaJJ wrote:

ICE cars are getting heavier, increasing the particulate pollution from them too.

I think the point is that while electric cars are not a magic bullet to allow us to keep on driving as we do now, they aren't as bad as some anti-EV campaigners want us to believe. In particular, they play a useful contribution to the transition towards decarbonised transport, and don't have tail-pipe emissions. They are also much less noisy.

Whilst EV cars are an improvement over ICE cars, I think they're a distraction from the possibilities of e-bikes, e-scooters and e-cargo-bikes etc. The problems with EV cars are all to do with the size and weight of them which are far less of a problem with the other shapes of EVs. EV cars were invented to save the car industries, not save the planet.

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tootsie323 replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

That would be a reasonable theory - it just hasn't been proven out (albeit, with only limited data collection to date). The general increase in vehicle weight mitigates the weight offset impact somewhat and the incorporation of traction control (coupled with a smoother torque / power delivery from EVs) also serve to contradict this premise. In general - the biggest impact on all this is the user's right foot.

I'm digressing again though. Cars will be cars and they take up a lot more space than bikes. Yet, somehow, it's the bikes that are the problem...

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Bungle_52 replied to tootsie323 | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

tootsie323 wrote:

In general - the biggest impact on all this is the user's right foot.

Spot on

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hawkinspeter replied to tootsie323 | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

tootsie323 wrote:

That would be a reasonable theory - it just hasn't been proven out (albeit, with only limited data collection to date). The general increase in vehicle weight mitigates the weight offset impact somewhat and the incorporation of traction control (coupled with a smoother torque / power delivery from EVs) also serve to contradict this premise. In general - the biggest impact on all this is the user's right foot.

I'm digressing again though. Cars will be cars and they take up a lot more space than bikes. Yet, somehow, it's the bikes that are the problem...

Yeah, I can't find any authoritative studies from a quick search. Anecdotally, EV owners are wearing through tyres quicker than with ICE vehicles with some people reporting them lasting only half as long. There's an RAC report here which examines the EV myths and that does suggest more tyre wear due to the increased torque and weight: https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/electric-cars/running/do-electric-vehicles-produce-more-tyre-and-brake-pollution-than-petrol-and/

As tyre particulates are particularly nasty (in terms of impacting health of people and especially waterways as that's where most of the road run-off ends up) then we should definitely be prioritising smaller vehicles where possible and I don't think we need to have so many car shaped vehicles when most of the time they're only transporting one person. Of course, reducing vehicle size can also help with reducing congestion, so we could have a healthier, happier population if only we could stop using cars so much.

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John Emms replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

"Anecdotally" tyre fitters are reporting EVs wearing out tyres in as little as 10 000 miles, and tyres on my ICE cars are lasting at least 25 000 miles. Tyres have long moved on from being rubber, and have been predominantly plastic for quite some years. The resulting micro-plastics containing dangerous chemicals are clearly a problem, but yes, there appears to be a lack of research on that.

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hawkinspeter replied to John Emms | 3 weeks ago
1 like

John Emms wrote:

"Anecdotally" tyre fitters are reporting EVs wearing out tyres in as little as 10 000 miles, and tyres on my ICE cars are lasting at least 25 000 miles. Tyres have long moved on from being rubber, and have been predominantly plastic for quite some years. The resulting micro-plastics containing dangerous chemicals are clearly a problem, but yes, there appears to be a lack of research on that.

The car industry has a very powerful control over parts of the media especially those that rely on their advertising budgets and I suspect that the tyre particle pollution problem is being hidden as much as possible, despite research showing just how nasty and pervasive some of the chemicals are.

https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/scientists-continue-work-to-establish-the-fate-and-impact-of-tyre-wear-particles-in-the-environment

Quote:

When it comes to tyres, it is not practical to simply stop using them. And as vehicle technologies change we don’t know whether that will lead to increased particles being produced as electric vehicles, despite cutting out exhaust emissions, are heavier and have greater torque. For now, our advice to drivers wanting to limit their environment impact would be to make sure tyres are properly inflated as that can reduce wear. Also, to think about how they drive to reduce their speed while cornering or not pull away from junctions too quickly. Ultimately we also need to influence changes in tyre design to help minimise the rate of particle generation.

https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/new-method-measures-levels-toxic-tyre-particles-rivers

UKCEH pollution scientist Dr Richard Cross explains: “From a scientific perspective, car tyres are a challenging material to investigate. Every tyre manufacturer uses a different formulation and can be quite closely guarded secrets.

“However, a handful of additives are used in the production of almost all vehicle tyres. These have relatively consistent concentrations and aren’t really used in anything except tyres.

One of those is 6PPD and that’s why we decided to use it as the ‘red flag’ that told us tyre rubber was in our sample.” 

As the additive degrades in the environment reacting with ozone, it transforms into a toxic compound called 6PPD-quinone, which can become dangerous to wildlife when it runs off into a water course during rainfall and storms. It has been implicated in Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome, where stormwater discharges coincide with salmon returning to the streams where they were born, causing mass deaths of adult fish before they can reach these spawning grounds.

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chrisonabike replied to tootsie323 | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Fair pedantry, though as HP said there may be a slight difference - my point was not the relative merits of ICE / EV braking and tyre wear particulates but simply that even EVs - while definitely better locally - are not "clean and healthy" even locally.

(And IMHO while they're doing some global warning harm reduction are as much to do with "emit elsewhere" allowing us all to say "look!  Cool cars 2.0 no smoky exhaust and smelly petrol, buy now!"  But perhaps that's the best we can hope for, if we're lucky?)

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HarrogateSpa replied to MattKelland | 4 weeks ago
5 likes

Yes it is poor. Very selective concern about loss of grass.

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Dnnnnnn replied to MattKelland | 4 weeks ago
8 likes

MattKelland wrote:

All at a time when the talk is about climate change

Yes, if only we could something that would encourage people to - for example - reduce their reliance on fossil-fuelled vehicles for short trips around town.

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Rendel Harris replied to MattKelland | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

MattKelland wrote:

There will be an approximate 1.5 m wide strip of grass verge lost along the entire length of Phase 3 - a noticeable loss of green landscape. All at a time when the talk is about climate change and the need to conserve such natural infrastructure to the greatest possible extent.

OK, let's do a little calculating here: Phase 3 is 1.1km long, so a total loss of 1650 square metres of grass. Taking an average figure from scientific data of urban lawns sequestering 75 grammes of carbon per square metre per year, that's 123 kilos of carbon sequestration in total. The average car produces 164g of CO2 per kilometre, so the total carbon sequestration loss amounts to around 750 car kilometres, so if two people a day cycle along that stretch instead of using a car it's more than paid for itself in terms of climate change. Which seems doable?

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bensynnock | 4 weeks ago
22 likes

You can't do around getting rid of grass verges. They provide much needed parking space.

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Kendalred | 4 weeks ago
6 likes

Harrogate innit. Too posh to push(bike).

Seriously, every time I visit my Mum in Harrogate, the traffic seems terrible. Seems like they must like it this way.

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John Emms replied to Kendalred | 3 weeks ago
1 like

We have exactly the same situation on our "twin towns' of Yate and Chipping Sodbury. Despite many people having no access to a car Yate used to have no spare car parking spaces. Increasing use of bikes to travel in and around the centre have led to it now being normal to easily finding a car parking space. Chipping Sodbury's infrastructure is hostile to bikes, so cyclists will not visit the dangerous High Street, and there is never car parking available. The Town Council want another car park, but this government is not paying for car parks, but it is throwing massive funding into Walking Wheeling and Cycling infrastructure. Imagine if the 22% of people who have no access to a car suddenly started filling the roads and car parks with additional cars! The anti-bike lobby need to support off road cycle routes, so that roads and car parks are freed up for their use.

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chrisonabike replied to John Emms | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Well that leaves me confused.  Not least:

John Emms wrote:

The Town Council want another car park, but this government is not paying for car parks, but it is throwing massive funding into Walking Wheeling and Cycling infrastructure.

Is this right?  It sounds ironic.  I mean - I stay in Scotland where the theoretical fraction of monies available are a LOT greater than England*, and while welcome I'm not sure we're "throwing massive funding" into things.  Just trying to spend a sensible amount upon vital (and economically productive) infra.

IIRC England was actually effectively reducing funding for active travel recently?

* There was an agreement to ramp up funding for active travel to 10% of the roads budget.  That may now change following recent changes at the top, but even if not there were growing questions about whether we'd ever get all that money and just how widely "active travel" could be defined to channel it instead into things like e.g. bus travel.  We need better public transport also but that's not active travel!

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John Emms replied to chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Certainly, we are seeing massive amounts of Central Government funding going into Active Travel infrastructure, at the very time that top politicians are using pro-car anti LTN rhetoric. Yate is now in consultation for massive pro Active Travel measures, all paid for by Central Government, and none of it can be spent on measures supporting car use.
On bus use, West of England Combined Authority has thrown massive Central Government funding into more bus routes with buses every 15 minutes for most of the day, backed up by on-demand minibuses as a trial to fill in the bus route gaps.
Of course, Active Travel is vital in being able to move efficiently and independently, whilst increasing fitness levels and mental health well into later life, at little or no damage to our environment.

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chrisonabike replied to John Emms | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Well good for Yate! Looking on Street view the 2021 pictures suggest nothing less than a genuinely "massive" amount of cash * will help. That might not be enough either - I suspect a radical culture shift is required (government and people). Exhibit A - in 2021 per Streetview there was an A road running through the middle - with crash barriers ... and a painted bicycle gutter! Plus the High Street as you mention stacked with cars.

Wouldn't give me confidence that transformation is likely. I hope I'm very wrong.

* No idea what you think they might get but a few hundred thousand wouldn't even touch the sides! Considering what rebuilding a single reasonable-sized junction costs on a main road (without any cycle infra at all).

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