Libdem Councillor, Helen Flynn, has called for Harrogate Council’s Tories to work with them on a cycling strategy for the district.
Councillor Flynn is backing a study which Harrogate Council has failed to put its support behind.
The forum, chaired by Cycle Champion Councillor Rebecca Burnett, is developing a vision for what Harrogate’s cycle network could look like with significant investment. This scheme, to link Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough, is to be their flagship project and they say will be backed up by several other smaller projects which will help fill in the gaps of the existing cycle network.
Implementation will need the support of North Yorkshire County Council as Highway Authority.
Councillor Flynn said: What would be great would be if the Cycling Champion and Leader could get behind the community initiative launched in May this year, through the cycling charity, Sustrans, set up expressly to form a blueprint for cycling infrastructure in Harrogate, now and for the future.
Why is this duplication of effort needed when there is already an initiative under way, and with community support?
In addition, the Leader recently voted against a Toucan crossing at Slingsby Walk, crossing Wetherby Road, to connect two parts of a cycle route, so I am currently confused as to the overarching strategy for cycling – it seems anything but joined up.
Councillor Cooper said: This a bold proposal to create a direct car-free link between Harrogate and Knaresborough, with Starbeck in-between, which would give cyclists of all abilities the confidence to see their bikes as a real alternative to their cars. It’s exactly what we need – a clear long-term vision we can all unite behind which can benefit everyone.
Speaking about the proposal, Councillor Burnett added: I cycle on Knaresborough Road almost every day and it is packed with commuter traffic between Harrogate and Knaresborough. A lot of cyclists tell me they are not confident enough to feel safe cycling on such a busy road.
By separating cyclists from traffic we can make journeys safer and easier for cyclists and for motorists. We already have some very successful off-road routes and this scheme, along with the other smaller schemes, will ensure our district is a truly cycle friendly place.
Clearly this cannot happen overnight – we are talking about our vision for the next ten years. But it is so important to have a shared ambition so we can campaign, fund-raise and give ourselves the best chance of making a difference.
Councillor Burnett took the forum’s approval of the proposal to Council Leader Councillor Richard Cooper who has given it his full backing despite no studies being undertaken on the project.
Harrogate also has plans to register interest in being part the National Cycling Delivery Plan
David Cameron announced his intention to kick-start a cycling revolution which would remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists and double the amount spent per head on cycling and walking by 2021.
- Local councils have been asked to register their interest in being part of the Government’s initiative
- a ten year strategy to increasing cycling across England.
- It includes an ambition to double cycling levels by 2025
- Increase the percentage of school children aged 5 to 10 years walking to school to 55% by 2025
Harrogate Borough Council Leader, Councillor Richard Cooper, has asked council officers to work with the Harrogate Cycle Forum, North Yorkshire County Council and other parties to take the appropriate steps to register an interest as soon as possible.
Councillor Cooper said: We have to realise that to make a real difference to congestion by encouraging more cycling and walking we need help.
The change we need to make is beyond the ability of either of the local councils to make in terms of cash and resources. That is why it is important that we take advantage of this initiative.
The initiative makes it clear that bids should have as broad support as possible and I am therefore in discussion with the County Council and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to ask them to support a bid.
Councillor Helen Flynn recently attended a launch event in York
Councillor Flynn said: I attended the event organised last week in York by the Department for Transport to find out more about how the new Natlonal Cycling Delivery Plan will work in practice.
I was the only person from Harrogate Borough Council to attend the event, though a representative from Harrogate Cycle Action Group, Martin Weeks, was also in attendance, which was useful.
My own belief is that harnessing community support for a proper cycling plan for Harrogate will be key to any successful bids into this fund.
There was a heavy implication that matched funding would be required to win any funds. I still remain hopeful that the Council will get behind the crowd-funding initiative that was launched through cycling charity, Sustrans, in May this year.
If we can show that both the council and the community are getting behind a full feasibility study, then our chances of getting funding from this new Government cycling plan to invest in infrastructure, must surely be significant.
I will continue to press the case for this and to encourage people to pledge or donate to the crowd-funding initiative.