A pub owner from Harrogate who had earlier criticised the controversial cycle lane and blocked it by placing ad-boards and barriers, has been asked by the council to clear everything to make way for pedestrians and cyclists, but feels that these demands are “unreasonable” and he’s “being punished”.
The shared space in Otley Road, Harrogate has been a part of much debate with complaints focusing on the potential dangers for walkers and the narrowness of the path in certain areas ever since North Yorkshire County Council secured funding for it in 2017.
Charlie Tinker, the owner of pub Charlie’s place featured on road.cc last year when he labelled it a “disaster waiting to happen”, and then… went ahead and blocked half of it by placing ad-laden (Heineken, for anyone wondering) barriers.
Now, the council has issued a letter to Mr Tinker asking him to “remove all furniture, heaters and A-boards” as “the full width of the footway is required” for the shared footway/cycleway.
However, Mr Tinker, who has owned Charlie’s Place for 19 years, said he feels he is “being punished” by the council’s “unreasonable” demands. He told The Stray Ferret: “It’s not easy for publicans – we’re still trying to recover from the covid lockdowns. The last thing we need is the council making things even more difficult for us.
“With the warmer weather coming, this is going to cost me income. I feel like I’m being punished.
“What the council is demanding is unreasonable. Just down the road, there’s a council bench and a council bin, both closer to the kerb than anything I’ve put out. It’s one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us.”
Mr Tinker said he accepted there needs to be a cycle path, but does not believe it should require the whole pavement. He said: “The section of dedicated cycle path that they’ve purpose-built just up the road is 5ft 2in (159cm) across, but the council wants the full 11ft 9in (358cm) outside my pub.
“Even if you take into account extra space for, say, a double buggy alongside the cycle path, I should still have enough space for a couple of small tables and some chairs. There should be give and take.”
However, North Yorkshire Council said that there was no formal street café licence or pavement licence in place, and said there was not enough width to accommodate pedestrians, tables and chairs, adding “this was the case before the Otley Road cycleway was introduced”.
Melisa Burnham, North Yorkshire Council’s highways area manager, said: “Independent businesses are at the heart of our communities, and we do everything we can to support them. We recognise the importance of outdoor space for the hospitality sector, particularly in recent years when Covid-19 restricted indoor dining.
“In Harrogate and Knaresborough alone, we have around 16 approved street café licences and have worked with 65 businesses since the pandemic to support and introduce pavement licences alongside the former borough council.
“In all cases, the safety of those using the pavements and roads should take priority. Unfortunately, there are pavements which aren’t wide enough to facilitate outdoor seating, and we will always work with these businesses to find possible solutions.”
Business owner who protested that the Otley Road Cycle Path would lead to a collision between cyclists and pedestrians, exacerbates the problem by blocking off half of the path with barriers 🤷♂️https://t.co/2PVPggJ8F8 pic.twitter.com/AqIA5O3ozr
— Harrogate Cycle Action (@cycle_harrogate) March 13, 2022
In February, road.cc reported North Yorkshire Council's plans to scrap the proposed £500,000 expansion of Otley Road cycle lane despite majority of the people supporting it.
However, Otley Road had been a constant target of disaprovals by almost every road user and resident in the area in the past. In October last year, the Council proposed one of the options in its consultation as an unsegregated cycle lane against the flow of traffic, which the HDCA referred to as ‘nonsense’ and a ‘murder strip’.
The poorly thought-out plans and the backlash against measures to promote cycling are apparent in the city despite there being some criticisms that the Council was spending the majority of its cycle route money in Harrogate.
Many local cyclists have also agreed with criticisms of the path, including its narrowness and the potential dangers of sharing with pedestrians, along with drivers who’ve claimed this would increase congestion on the busy road. However, as is evident from the pictures, there’s a two-lane two-way still available for motor traffic even with cars parked on the road.
Last year, the Harrogate Residents Association wrote to North Yorkshire County Council to argue that the new route is “very dangerous and there could be an accident”, with Mr Tinker also stating that there was a serious danger that one of his customers could be injured by a speeding cyclist.
“Cyclists coming down this hill can really pick up speed, and having the cycle lane so close to our front door is dangerous. There’s no buffer for the customer – they’re walking straight into it,” he said. “Someone could easily come out of our pub straight into the path of a speeding cyclist – it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”
Mr Tinker argued that a small amount of space could, and should, be reserved in front of his premises for customers – just as it has been, albeit unofficially, for the the last two decades.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after completing his 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 also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes writes about science, tech and the environment. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him riding his bike on the scenic routes, fighting his urge to stop pedalling and click photographs (apparently not because he's bonking).