Friday, 14 April 2017


Cycle Harrogate has come to its natural end and the website will cease to exist from May. 

Posted on 14.4.17 | Categories:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Support your local Heroes - SingletrAction dig day

Myself and the boys were at Stainburn this morning helping the good people at SingletrAction build a pump track. If you haven't ridden the Red loop and descent line that are also their work get on it. Just be careful on the descent line it's tasty for a red, my eldest wears the scars.

By 9.30 a collection of the young and not so young, yet I'm sure still childish at heart were warming their backs up dragging tree stumps out of their homes, digging trail and generally having muddy fun making playgrounds for bikes.

By 11 I think there must have been 25 people moving aggregate in an endless train of barrows and the huge  pile of stones in the car park was dissolving in front of our eyes.

A few riders who had come to ride the other trails got involved and my kids either thought that building trails was the best thing that had ever happened to them or comfortably the worst, depending on which one you asked at which particular moment. Berms and rollers were emerging form the forest and being Wacker plated into smooth pristine trail. It was like that barn raising scene from Witness but with a slightly less attractive cast than Kelly McGillis and Harrison Ford.

By 12.30 my body was pointing out that I don't do this thing for a living anymore and perhaps a lie down could be arranged soon?  The kids had got in the car, the better to smother it with the mud they had on their boots and we slunk off for central heated relaxation.

The pump track looks like it will be excellent when complete. I look forward to riding it after maybe another dig day or two. My kids will be able to say "I helped build that". All in all a great community based facility for the young and young at heart of Harrogate. Built by volunteers and funded by fundraising, life doesn't get much better than that.

I bet if you wanted to help at another dig day they would bite your arm off, I will be back.
Posted on 5.3.17 | Categories:

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Bond End - my kids deserve better

Bond End is the bit of Knaresborough where NOx (nasty oxides produced by diesel engines) go to kill people in these environs. Its officially so polluted something must be done. Actually four other pollutants including particulate matter (fine bits of soot) are also measured but NOx is the main bad guy here. There is wide agreement that Diesel engines produce most of the particulates and NOx that led to it being declared an Air QualityManagement Area. Bond End got it's badge in 2013.

Quite why it has taken 3 years for North Yorkshire County Council to come up with a plan to fix the deadly fug in this bit of Knaresborough is a mystery but now there is a plan.

They are planning to put a mini roundabout in and some of Transdevs Diesel buses are going to be less dirty, although quite what is proposed for the buses is a little unclear. There are some other proposals but they are vague.

We get no figures about the effect all of this will have on pollution levels and wether or not it will work. It all seems a bit well wishy washy.

Is this worth getting upset about?

Oh yes poor air quality kills 25,000 ish  people in the UK annually. Hard to say which ones, it makes people with lung conditions and heart disease sicker and it effects everyone's lung capacity but no-one wears a badge saying "diesel engines killed me". They just die of disease that we know to be avoidable if they had breathed cleaner air. 25,000 dead is a lot more than die on the roads and we have spent a fortune crash proofing cars and making roads safe for pedestrians for example. Pollution is difficult as we all need to travel and it's invisible, so it has often been ignored. We do now however have many better alternatives that are both cleaner and economically viable.

My kids ride these buses to school in Kanresborough as it happens and they are at greater risk from these pollutants sat in a car or bus bizarrely, as the pollutants are contained in a box that whilst ventilated is not as good at cleaning air as for example if you walk through the smog or are riding a bike. Actually the worst thing is being sat in a diesel engined train but I digress.

Why I believe this plan appears flawed and what would be better

Fixing the roundabout will just move the existing pollution elsewhere, traffic volumes are set to rise, this will cost a fair few quid and will be at best a temporary fix. The answer is to significantly reduce the pollution, not just kick the can down the road.

Improving the emission of the buses sounds good, although I'm unclear what is proposed here, there are two main current specs for cleaning up diesel engines. Euro 5 and Euro 6

Euro 5 basically fits a filter that sieves out the soot then halves the Nox emissions which are the real baddie.

Euro 6 uses the filter from Euro 5 and adds a urea catalyst (AdBlue) to change most of the Nox into something less deadly. This is the test that VW were cheating in the recent emissions scandal. Even when you don't cheat the test, real world Nox levels for Euro 6 vehicles are not as good as obtained in a lab, even so these Euro 6 diesels are way better on Nox than diesel vehicles made in 2000. In theory 5 times cleaner in practice maybe only 3, but still way better and they are ten times better on soot. Although some people (illegally) drive cars which have had the particulate filters taken out as they adversely effect economy, if you only use the cars as run arounds, rather than firing them up on the motorway.

So if the proposal is to up rate the buses to Euro 6 it is welcome, if it euro 5 not so much.

Electric buses however which we are using elsewhere in the district and in York, produce no emissions at point of use and if you buy your electric from a green supplier like Ecotricity, they produce virtually zero emissions in service other than a bit for maintenance and washing.

Trouble is buses are only part of the problem here, HGV's and commercial vehicles are big polluters too and both HGV and commercial vehicles tend to be older than domestic cars and so pollute more. Why not require them to meet Euro 6 standards if they want to drive though Bond End? If not make them go round the houses. Why not go further why not make all taxis in Harrogate district be Euro 6 within 3 years? Then you are not just moving the pollution down the road you are reducing the volume that is created in our town.

Oh and whilst we are at it isn't it time for a national diesel scrappage scheme to get the most polluting diesels off the road? There is bit of a problem here as diesels are reliable and generally capable of high milages and long service lives so scrapping them is wasteful, but I would argue that if we are prepared to ban smoking in pubs to prevent people being at risk of death from passive smoking.We should do the same for the pollution created by diesel vehicles.

Now these proposal will doubtless prove unpopular with some. but if you actually want to improve the air at Bond End and perhaps more importantly the town as a whole, rather than just apply some greenwash you need stop encouraging quite so many people to burn diesel here.

Posted on 10.1.17 | Categories:

Friday, 14 October 2016

Thoughts on a relief Road for Harrogate

A Harrogate Relief Road is in the news again Don Mackenzie executive member of North Yorkshire County Council for highways is all over it like a rash.

There are a few routes in the mix but the ones that seem to be getting love from the Don are heading from Calcutt-way along the banks of the Nidd Gorge towards Killinghall and then maybe a link to the Skipton Road near the Old Spring Well pub.

It will cost 70 odd million quid which is a lot of money. I have views...

In news just in the cycling wonk is not against it, with a few BIG caveats. Relief roads can work provided, the route they relieve is made less attractive for cars, so people use the relief road otherwise you just make traffic. Harrogate's traffic problems are not the unwashed hordes heading to Skipton it's local people making local journeys in cars for the most part. At least that is what all the traffic surveys say.

Caveat 1

On it's own a relief road is a bit of a chocolate fireguard. Traffic is going to grow because we are going to build houses, doubtless more slowly and with more anti-house hoopla then elsewhere but we are. Especially if you want your children to live somewhere else in their thirties other than in that room you had planned to make an office/craft room/observatory in your middle age. A relief road on its own will just provide temporary relief we need to remodel the towns roads too.

Unsurprisingly this cycle flag waving, green tinged, eco muppet thinks some cycle and walking provision other than the current crap piecemeal provision can help. I'm not talking banning cars (although more pedestrianisation by the shops would be a good idea but lets leave that particular thorn for another day). I mean designing for walking and cycling like we do in that there London and on the continent (remember Europe we used to be part of it or something?). So proper segregated cycleways safe routes to school, making using a car in town something you only feel the need to do when its raining. Or you know if you just can't be arsed that day because for short trips it's more of a pain than walking or cycling or getting the bus. Stuff like that.

Caveat 2

I would like to see what I'm arguing for above, incorporated into whatever bid goes forward to central government. It should be about a totality of solution not a relief road alone.

Caveat 3

The traffic model we have spent a lot of money on needs to be made open for public scrutiny. I want to know what data was used to develop it and what assumptions about growth and housing have been made. I am no academic, but I have an analytical mind, I can scrutinise data, so can many others. I don't want to take the main argument for this thing on trust. I want to see the working.

Some more thoughts.

We ought to be well placed as a town to do this. We have in Andrew Jones Mp someone who is a Transport Minister and has a responsibility for sustainable transport. We have Rebecca Burnett who is responsible for sustainable transport on Harrogate Borough Council. There is Don Mackenzie who seems to be betting the farm on a relief road and is responsible for transport at NYCC. There is plenty of elected capacity here what could possibly go wrong?

Doing all of the above will have costs beyond money. If you put a relief road down the side of the Nidd gorge it will never be the same again, nor will the Greenway which Don Mackenzie was a supporter of. Lots of people are going to be pretty unhappy about this idea, Malcolm Margolis already is. All development has costs we need to decide what we want countryside or convenience?

Personally I think sorting out our urban transport issues trumps preserving the gorge even though the gorge is fantastic and I'm in favour of building houses too. I accept other people take a different view.

Getting things done in Harrogate is a right faff people would much rather talk than do, I wonder if anything will be in place before I draw my pension, I'm 48?

Posted on 14.10.16 | Categories:

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

This is dull but really important - NYCC Local Transport Plan (LTP4)

North Yorkshire County Council have just approved their Local transport Plan (LTP4). This sets out how they will do transport stuff for the next 5 years. The original draft barely mentioned cycling.

Kevin Douglas at Harrogate and District Cycle Action wasn't having that. He wrote a lengthy and forensic discourse about why we need more cycling in Harrogate and why North Yorkshire County Council need to crack on. As a result cycling is all over the new document like a rash. We have commitments to actually try and do something about utility cycling in Harrogate, there will be a council Cycling Champion and a Sustainable Transport Officer on the council, this is grand news.

There is an acceptance as a theme in the plan that you won't fix Harrogate's traffic chaos by making it easier for people to drive cars, but rather by getting them to sometimes make different choices when they travel. Now as ever it is not un-alloyed joy, NYCC are arguing there is no money, but a leopard does not change its spots overnight and this represents a massive step forward.

Oh and as ever life is not quite as simple as it appears. There is still the question of devolved government for Harrogate. Which might put us as a town in a group with Leeds and out transport policy and funding would be taken away from NYCC. I guess we will know what is happening by the end of the year, maybe sooner. Personally I reckon follow the money and go with the other large urban conurbation in the area but we shall see what we see. If this doesn't happen NYCC are the people we need to deal with.

This LTP is good news though, mainly because if NYCC try and continue with it's frankly poor car centric transport policies in Harrogate, we now as bike activists and sustainable transport wonks have a stick with which to beat them. Believe me I will continue my partisan middle aged whinging going forward. Now where did I put my stick? Nice work Kevin.

Oh and should you be the kind of sad weirdo (much like myself) who actually wants to read the 140 page LTP you can find it here the cycling bit is section 3j it's toward the end.

Posted on 6.4.16 | Categories:

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Tell North Yorkshire County Council to stop being rubbish on Cycling they don't need to be

I need your help (again). North Yorkshire County Council are consulting on their local transport plan (LTP). This sets the blueprint for how transport strategy unfolds over the next 5 years.

At the moment when it comes to cycling they are arguing there is no money so they can't do much, this is simply not true, here is what they say in the draft LTP document...
What will we deliver?
We will seek to find funding so that we can appoint a Sustainable Travel Officer to provide expertise and information about how developers, employers and communities can plan and coordinate healthier and sustainable travel needs and opportunities within new developments and existing communities.
We will also seek and apply for any available funding to support healthy and active travel whether by us directly, in partnership with other agencies or authorities or by bringing opportunities to the attention of those who are eligible to apply.
We will incorporate appropriate additional training for our planning staff and highways engineers to enable them to understand how they can make small adjustments to new scheme designs and within routine maintenance that will help people to be able to walk or cycle more easily and safely.
The current financial climate and competing demands on the network mean that we are not in a position to plan and install hundreds of miles of off road cycleways or footpaths to satisfy commuters, leisure and sports riders throughout the county area. However, we are keen to support and provide for walkers and cyclists where we can. When funding can be found, we will prioritise our efforts to those places and uses where there is evidence of an existing or emerging cause for concern, where large events have triggered a significant increase in cyclists using a route e.g. Tour de Yorkshire, where new event routes are being proposed, and where existing facilities and routes can be connected through small additional elements
We will continue to take account of pedestrian and cyclists needs in maintenance and in new road schemes and within our planning considerations for new developments.
An elected member who will act as a Champion and advocate for the needs and potential of walking and cycling across council activity in policy and in service planning and delivery. 
So in summary "we might do a bit if we can" that is not good enough, it will not bring about the necessary infrastructure changes the cyclists of Harrogate need and it won't fix Skipton Road. There are a few reasons why this crushing lack of ambition is not only a cop out but actively unhelpful.

Sustrans the cycling charity have a really strong track record of working with local government to unlock funding from government.  North Yorkshire County Council refuse to work with them currently despite Sustrans being keen.

Harrogate Borough Council have a partially funded Cycling Delivery plan for Harrogate that NYCC would need to deliver, there is no mention of them seeking to deliver this.

The Government infrastructure bill of last year committed to a  budget for cycling and walking and there is now a minister for sustainable transport Robert Goodwill. We await funding details but money will be spent where there is clear ambition from local government to make changes. Saying "we might do a bit" is not going to unlock funding.

The Help I need.

This Document is under consultation and your views have to be taken account of. It takes less than five minutes.

you can find the consultation on the LTP here

In the box where you can comment, please feel free to copy and paste something along these lines...

I call on NYCC to spend £10 per head, per annum on cycle infrastructure in the urban areas of the County.  Section 3K does not meet your obligations to reduce car use where possible and will not reduce congestion. Further I call on North Yorkshire County Council to work jointly with Harrogate Borough Council to commit to fully implement the Harrogate Cycling Delivery Plan over the life of the LTP.

If you could do that we might make a difference.

Oh and Don Mackenzie is the executive member for transport you can get him here

Posted on 4.11.15 | Categories:

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Harrogate Year One Post Tour De France

The Tour is Heading for France a year after it graced our Town. Chris Froome looked good as he eased into yellow yesterday something that never really happened last year. Early days though and a long way to Paris.

This year we had to make do with a Big Bike Bash and a grand day out it was. Lots of bikes, beer and a chance to ride the finish of the Tour as a family this was great. It was largely the work of Richard Cooper, HBC council Leader and I congratulated him. Anything that keeps riding bikes in Harrogate on the agenda and keeps memories of the Tour alive is good with me.

We rode up from Starbeck as a family. Actually two families, some friends joined us. The route we took was tortuous so as to avoid the Knaresborough Road. With a six year old its a no go really even if you are heading to a bike event where some roads are closed. We took the cycle paths across the Stray pausing only to try and get across Wetherby Road by the Hospital. There was supposed to be a Toucan (bike Pelican ) crossing here it was funded and everything but Richard Cooper got it stopped.

It is really dodgy as a crossing to be honest. I ended up wheeling out into the road and hoping the cars would stop rather than hit me, they did but I got a few looks. At least the kids got over safely.

Towards the end of the Stray the cycleways finish. We continued on the Stray on footpaths because well, 300 yards on the Main Road would have been bonkers with the kids. Then we ended up on pavements for the last 100 metres until we got to the road closures. It just seemed better than trying to protect a six year old in 3 lanes of traffic.

More folk are definitely on their bikes post Tour in town, often on our car centric road network. I guess these are the brave, the competent, road warriors like myself. What about those that might but dare not? I have been working with lots of those recently people who want to ride a bike but simply are too scared so they get back in their cars.

I don't see why all the paths on the Stray can't be shared use. The ones we have work well. Recently almost a year to the day after the Tour came Harrogate Borough Council have painted NO CYCLING signs on the paths that are pedestrian only. Lots of people seem miffed I wonder if as many are delighted?

I will probably ignore these No Cycling instructions. As I ignored the ones that used to be on what are now the Stray shared use Cycleways. I will I'm sure ignore the signs when I think it is safer than riding the roads. Especially when I have the kids in tow. I will ride carefully, I will be polite to pedestrians and I will ride pretty slowly, but I will ride. I may get fined, I might even get arrested. The publicity would be great to be honest. I wonder if lots of other people though will heed the signs and think, well I can't ride the roads you know what, sod it I will get in the car down to Montepelier it is less faff.

If my Council can't work in everyone's best interest when it has money to spend. How can I believe that it is actually interested in making this town one where riding bikes is a sensible choice. Everyone is rightly worried about the (car) traffic in town but unless we can help people to make choices other than taking the car the traffic will not go away. I drive a car, I want quiet roads too, but there is no traffic control fairy.

We have a Sustainable transport Champion in Rebecca Burnett I like Rebecca but she seems to think defending the status quo is more important than actively getting more people on their bikes. I disagree, no surprise there.

Whilst I like Richard and Rebecca and think they are good people. I am worried that the innate conservation (small c) of Harrogate means they are too scared to do all they could to make this an even nicer town to ride around and that is a tragedy. All I have to offer as a contrary view is my whinging and my occasional middle class mild dissent. I doubt that will be enough.

Posted on 7.7.15 | Categories:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

If cycling provision affects your vote. Here is what the candidates say.

Harrogate Cycle Action asked local parliamentary candidates what they thought about cycling and development going forward here is what those that responded said....

Harrogate Cycle Action(HCA) have asked all 5 candidates their parties and their personal position on Sustainable Transport and, in particular Cycling, prior to the forthcoming General Election on May 7th.
We asked all the candidates the following 2 questions:-

1. What is your parties policy with regard to the expansion and development of sustainable transport to reduce traffic congestion and, in particular, their plans to develop and promote the cycling infrastructure and cycling in general as an alternative mode of transport?

2. If elected in the Harrogate and Knaresborough Constituency as MP what will you do to ensure the development of Sustainable Transport alternatives within the District and also to develop the Cycling Infrastructure, both as an alternative means of commuting/travel and as a tourist attraction?

4 of the candidates have responded and their responses are listed below for your information and, hopefully, to help you make your decision on who to vote for. HCA are not recommending any particular candidate but thought the information on this particular topic would be something you would find interesting.
The responses are listed in the order they were received.

Kevin Douglas (Chair)


You won't be surprised to hear that we are committed to excellent

sustainable transport in all its forms! We want a culture change which will

prioritise bikes (including electric bikes) alongside public transport above

private cars. I believe in creating jobs in coordinating transport options

such as carsharing, car clubs, and much more responsive bus services which

are not run by competing private firms with little oversight by local

government. I attended the local Cycle Delivery Plan Launch recently in

Starbeck and was impressed with progress, but there is much more we could do

to reduce congestion locally. Regarding tourism, yes, loads of potential

to offer and advertise more to attract tourists to cycle here. We must

build on the amazing success of Le Tour. Sustainable tourism is and should

be a major player in the economy of this area, and as a tourism provider (a

self-catering bike-friendly eco-house in York) I offer training for Visit

York and also push for sustainable tourism through the regional tourism body

(Welcome to Yorkshire). If there isn't already a specific cycling promotion

group in W2Y, I would aim to get one established – likewise for Harrogate




My colleague, Julian Huppert MP, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling. They have made great strides on cycling, including publishing this report My party is in support of all these recommendations. The Lib Dems have always been a green party and have promoted sustainable transport for years. I am particularly in favour of ensuring that a portion of the Department for Transport’s annual budget is dedicated to building cycle infrastructure and revenue support for behaviour change. Up till now, funding for cycling has come about through various pots of funding, meaning that it has been impossible to plan strategically and long term for how to get more people cycling across the UK.

Question 2

I have already been very active in trying to develop sustainable transport in the district. Two examples below

1. I chair a Government-funded, community-led transport initiative called the Dales Integrated Transport Alliance (DITA)( We have been running for four years. In that time we have tried many initiatives and funded various schemes, but I would just want to highlight here the "One Way £1" bus fare for under-19s that has paved the way for the policy initiative in the Lib Dem manifesto which is a national scheme for 2/3 off adult bus fares for all under-21 year olds. (It was my own efforts on the Lib Dem Federal Policy Committee that got this in as a manifesto priority.) We had great success with the One way £1 initiative, getting an increase in patronage of 50%. Not only does this mean that young people were only paying £1, but it incentivises bus networks to grow—something we desperately need, especially here!

DITA also part-funded the feasibility study for the extension of the Nidderdale Greenway to Pateley Bridge. And has funded many other cycling and walking initiatives across the Dales and AONB.

2. I am a local Harrogate Borough councillor. Last year out of sheer desperation that nothing was happening to secure a proper and lasting legacy for the Tour de France, I devised a scheme with Sustrans to launch a crowd-funding initiative to see if we could raise the funds-- by appealing to the Harrogate public and cyclists (in particular)-- to create a blueprint for how we could make Harrogate into a cycle town. I arranged a fee of £15,000 for Sustrans to do this work. I still hope this amount can be achieved as I believe that establishing an overall strategic plan of how you build safe cycling routes is the essential first step, if we want to be serious about becoming a cycle town. Sustrans funded a trip for me to visit Velsen in the Netherlands last summer, and there I really could see how it is more than possible to achieve this here. And would it not be fantastic if we could get school children cycling to school every day and people doing routine trips to work and the shops by bike?! It is still my vision and will continue to work for it here.



If we are to tackle the congestion caused by internal journeys we must look

to improving public transport and cycling infrastructure. There have been a

lot of improvements to local rail services and there are more on the way. I

think however we can make the most significant difference with cycling.

However cyclists, particularly new cyclists, need to feel safe. That is why

I support the plans Harrogate Cycle Action has developed in partnership with

Harrogate Borough Council which will help complete the local cycling

network. There appears to have been a sea-change in the council's attitude

to cycling under the new leadership and the plans which have been drawn up

are ambitious. I was pleased to see the council allocating funding to start

delivering them. This, alongside the new appointment of a cabinet member

for sustainable transport, will ensure that progress continues to be made.

In Government I supported the Infrastructure Act which commits the next

Government to developing a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which

will include funding to deliver the strategy's objectives. As our local

council bids to form a partnership with Government to deliver the local

ambitions it has my full support.

In Government my party has raised the annual level of spending on cycling

from £2 to £6 and has committed to raising it to £10 by 2020/21. This will

help achieve the ambition to double the number of trips made each year by



I will continue to support Harrogate Cycle Action and Harrogate Borough

Council in the fantastic work you are doing together. I will also support

the council's bid to form a partnership with Government as part of the

Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan.

It is important to get as much local support as possible for the planned

infrastructure improvements so I would be pleased to help generate interest

from local businesses and potential funding partners such as the Local

Enterprise Partnerships to ensure maximum benefit.

Local businesses also have a lot to contribute because they can make sure

they have the right conditions and incentives so their employees choose

cycling or other modes of sustainable transport rather than the car. Some

employers are very good at this but others may need more support and I would

be keen to explore this further with the local council.

The push needs to be towards getting more people cycling to work and to

school. We should also be looking at doing more to promote 'leave the car at

home' days - perhaps coinciding with increased public transport services and

trials of park-and-ride services so people can see the true value of

travelling sustainably. The latest I've heard from the council is that they

plan to run a scheme of sustainable transport awards for local businesses

which make a significant contribution in this area. I am sure more

information will be available in due course.

But these initiatives should not be one-off gimmicks for political gain,

they should be with a view to mainstreaming sustainable transport so it

becomes a real option for people.


I'm very supportive of promoting cycling in the Harrogate District. It's a great recreational activity and the extension of off-road cycle routes is to be actively promoted.


No response received. If one is forthcoming this information will be updated and re-circulated.
Posted on 16.4.15 | Categories:

Monday, 30 March 2015

What do you think? Some thoughts on The Harrogate Cycling Delivery Plan

I went to the launch of Harrogate's Cycle Delivery plan at Veloheads last Tuesday. It was well attended by a range of people, many of them would have considered themselves cyclists, not something I do myself, I ride a bike a bit, I digress.

The plan, you can find details here is about a dedicated cycle route between Harrogate and Knaresborough and a  range of other cycling infrastructure improvement that could happen over the next five to ten years to make it easier to ride your bike round our towns. We have relatively low rates of bike use compared to some other towns who have invested. There may well be central government grants for towns and cities that have plans in place (watch this space).

At the weekend I  got into a conversation with a guy on twitter, Harrogate's cycling champion Rebecca Burnett and Helen Flynn (prospective parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems and hardworking cycling tub thumper). The guy seemed mildly miffed that there hadn't been more consultation over the proposals/plan although part of the launch at Veloheads was designed to get  people's views on the plan.

What came up via the chat was that Harrogate's bike clubs Nova and Cappucino  hadn't been consulted and that is a fair point, some thoughts.

I think myself and Carl at Veloheads could have done more to get people along to the launch, but I was just getting my teeth into a new job and Carl is relatively new to the Harrogate Cycling scene. I did what I could, so spoke to the Advertiser and Stray FM, blogged and tweeted about it, but I don't have contacts with the cycling clubs. I don't ride a bike for fun, merely to get to work. Rebecca oddly for one so young doesn't really do social media, perhaps she should do more? I am not sure anyone was hiding any of this process, at least I wasn't.

I am however worried  that this plan represents the views and inputs of the Harrogate Cyclists that get actively involved in lobbying for more cycle infrastructure. So that is me, Dave Prince (well known middle aged bikey whinge bag and soft green tosser), Harrogate Cycle Action (a mainly older group of people have been involved with local infrastructure development for a good while, many of the members ride with the Wheel Easy Club). Veloheads (Carl Nelson social business entrepreneur, bike workshop owner, he did little more than host the launch), The Harrogate Cycle Forum run by the Borough Council under the umbrella of Sports Development Harrogate, Rebecca sits on it, anyone can, I don't, I go bouldering or running instead.

I know there are other groups of bike riders out there who may have different agenda and I think you should be heard. I think this plan is great, I had some input into it. I have lobbied for a better route from Harrogate to Knaresborough for nearly three years, It's not though my work. Harrogate Council put it together via their transport planner. If we are going to spend yours and my tax making it happen I would rather your felt involved and that you were not ambivalent or even hostile toward it.

It's not my gig, I am not a Tory (Somewhere to the left of Dennis Skinner on taxation somewhere to the right of Jeremy Clarkson on personal freedom. for what it is worth) but I am prepared to work with our elected councillors and their officers now they appear to be taking sustainable transport more seriously in Harrogate. To defend them when I think it is warranted and to actively and publicly slag them when not. Ask around most people have experienced both sides of the coin.

If people want to let their views be known or have a conversation about the plan, the person to talk to is Rebecca Burnett. If you wanted to get involved with shaping and moulding how this plan is delivered, evolves and changes to represent the views of more bikey types in Harrogate and Knaresborough that can only be healthy. You could do worse than get involved with the Harrogate Cycle Forum via the excellent Jo Armstrong and or keep engaging via twitter.

 I would like to clarify though, that I am merely a self appointed, middle aged tosser, who does this for love, doesn't vote Tory, Isn't really actively lobbying any more and has been known to tell it as I see it. Sometimes this works, sometimes it does not. I have opinions and some skill with social media, everything else is just smoke and mirrors.
Posted on 30.3.15 | Categories:

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Harrogate Cycle Delivery Plan Launch - Come see the paradise

What if I and others lobbied for an integrated plan for cycling infrastructure development in Harrogate and Knaresborough and decent provision for bikey types on the Knaresborough Road and then it came to pass?

Well it is about too get a damn site more likely with the launch of the Harrogate Cycling Delivery Plan.

If you are bothered about this stuff you can come along get an insight into the detail, ask questions, comment, and talk to your Cabinet Member for Sustainability Rebecca Burnet. All this at the mighty Veloheads. For there is to be a launch of the afore mentioned visionary initiative. I hope to see as many of you as possible there. I will be the one with the two tired children, who have been bribed with sweets and want to go home.

This from Rebbeca.

Date: Tuesday 24 March
Time: 4pm to 6pm
Venue: Veloheads, Provincial Works, off The Avenue, Starbeck, HG1 4QE.

As you will know I have been working with members of the cycling community, including Sustrans and North Yorkshire County Council, through the Harrogate Cycle Forum.
We have been drawing up plans for infrastructure improvements to complete the cycle network in Harrogate, including a flagship scheme to provide a direct and separated cycleway between Harrogate and Knaresborough. It has been a community-led process, with local cyclists making the suggestions for where the improvements are needed.
We have prepared an event for Councillors and members of the public to come and see the plans for what we have been working on, make comments, suggestions and ask questions. I hope that you will be able to attend.
here is a map

Posted on 10.3.15 | Categories:

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bike lights, big city

I seem to be working in Leeds as a bike evangelist, come bicycle grease monkey. This has come as a bit of a surprise. I know applied for the job and everything, but the scale of the ambition here is quite something. Compared to the head banging I felt I was having to do for trying to do the same thing in Harrogate. It used to be hard to even get a hearing when I talked about utility cycling. More on the positive changes in that later in this post.

After three years spent smelling of gripfill and silicone sealant my hands now have the tell tale fading tattoo of road grime removed with too little degreaser and somebody who needs to remember to wear gloves before I start.

The Leeds Universities are part of a project called Utravelactive Sustrans were the instigators but I'm working for Leeds Beckett, the hospitals are involved too. They  run two workshops one at the Headingley Campus and a shared one with Leeds University in central Leeds. Bikes are hired out to students, 400 plus across both institutions. I help make that system work as well as repairing them and also helping anybody who walks in off the streets with problems with their own bikes. It gets pretty busy on a Wednesday afternoon with a mix of those in need of some targeted help, (you will know them by their orange chains), and the able bike nerds who are glad of a stand and some tools and just get on with it.

There is a cycling festival this week on both campuses the usual stuff: some films, some silly bikes and trying to get people to change their behaviour one or more days a week and leave the car at home. Or at least do part of their journey by methods other than the car. That in exchange for some shiny plastic or non ferrous metal object of their choice.

I forgot to mention the facilities on site here. My bike is in a secure undercover storage bike park. I have a locker and showers within a minutes walk of my office.  This stuff is everywhere and judging by the recognisable detritus of the commuter cyclist, it is being used by many.

Non cycling staff here are offered a sort of "gateway drug" into the world of cycling; a free five weeks loan of a bike with even the hard stuff in the form of a Brompton on offer for those with refined  tastes. The whole package too, lights, lock, helmet and pannier. There are as few barriers to just getting on with it as possible. Better yet they get followed up weekly and helped if the wheels come off. So after 5 weeks they convert 80% of people onto the cycle to work scheme, this is a good thing.

There is a lunchtime walking club run as it happens by a mate of mine who works for the well being department who is trying to get people moving too. The activity agenda is being attacked as well, there is talk of some collaboration going forward, we shall see.

The flaw and massive cosmic irony with all this is that muggins here is driving to Leeds three days a week as the trains don't really connect, even though I live a 5 minute walk from a station. At least I am dumping my car by the ring road and cycling in to the centre as I beat the cars and buses easy in rush hour, but If you want to do this kind of thing for a living you have to go where the people are I suppose. I need to do better, I will do better.

What of the Harrogate scene? Well I think things might just be starting to gather some useful momentum. Over at Veloheads Carl Nelson is slowly taking over the world one service at a time. I went round for a chat on Friday. Carl was good enough to vouch for me on the strength of two cups of tea and a sniff round this blog. So I reckon I owe him a favour or two. Anyway his bike shed had some really nice bikes which I drooled over. Including a fairly special Colnago the like of which I hadn't seen before. All was quiet efficiency as the bikes where bought back to top performance. If you want a simple service or something more high end go and see him, the prices are good and him and his people know their stuff.

In infrastructure news the talk of a dedicated separated Cycle superhighway between Harrogate and Knaresborough seems to be firming up. It is early days but it does look like Rebecca Burnett and Harrogate Borough Council are starting to take cycling more seriously and good on them. This would be a big project and something I have argued for nearly 3 years now. I would like it finished before my children vote, Ideally before the youngest goes to secondary school.

Finally there a few things lurking in the wings which if they come off have the potential to massively change investment levels in Harrogate cycling. I am loathe to say anything at the moment, but behind the scenes a fair few people are trying to make Harrogate a bike town.

So we live in interesting times perhaps there will be some Tour De France legacy after all and there is always that UCI race coming this summer, what is it called again?

Posted on 3.3.15 | Categories:

Friday, 13 February 2015

NYCC change their mind over the Leeds Road Junction - now to make it cycle friendly

We pretty much lost a battle over the Leeds Road junction last year with North Yorkshire County Council. They went ahead and remodelled the junction making it rubbish for bikes and it appears rubbish for everyone else. This after a concerted campaign by local activist asking them to think about bike riders and pedestrians more in their design We lobbied they did a bit, but not it appears enough.

They have just announced they are to have another go. Lets hope this time they do something rather than the bare minimum for cyclists, pedestrians and everyone else whoo uses it. Good on them for thinking again, if only they would think first.

Posted on 13.2.15 | Categories:

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

REJOICE - Well you know, things are getting better

It looks like the cycling argument is being won nationally. Everyone has been rather more pro cycling recently, but you know what, show me the money. You can't change behaviour or give people more choices without investing some of everyone's hard earned and it looks like that is about to start happening in a more structured way.

Last night an amendment to the infrastructure bill in parliament was passed. This obliges Government to set budgets for sustainable transport nationally. Now we have no guarantee of funding for projects as a result of this, but at least we are arguing about the size of the cake now, not whether or not there should be a cake at all.

Andrew Jones Mp had this to say to me and you
Hello Dave,

Thank you for contacting me on Twitter regarding the cycling and walking amendment to the Infrastructure Bill. Twitter is a wonderful thing, but I do often find it hard to fit a proper reply into 140 characters!

You will be pleased to know that the amendment, tabled by the Secretary of State for Transport, which commits the Government to set out objectives for cycling and walking infrastructure and the funding to meet these objectives was passed last evening.

I was pleased to support this amendment and it was reassuring that it included a commitment to funding as well as to strategy.

You will know that Rebecca Burnett, in her Cabinet Member role, is working to push forward the issue on a local level and I have offered her any support she needs to make progress.

I know you are a regular blogger and tweeter so please do feel free to share the good news about this commitment from Government with your contacts.

I hope this email finds you well.

Kind regards


So this is not the end of cycle campaigning, but I do think it represents government finally taking the needs of all road users seriously.

Posted on 27.1.15 | Categories:

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Come and adore the mighty Veloheads

I spent some of this morning with my boys down at Veloheads a new business come social enterprise in my neck of the woods, down the Avenue in Starbeck. Harrogate has it's fair share of bike businesses. Why am I getting excited about this one, I hear you murmur with barely repressed indifference? It opened for business this morning and I had the heads up, as I met the owner a couple of months back.

Carl Nelson said owner, seems to have a different agenda to most businesses. Sure he wants to make a living, who doesn't, but 10% of Veloheads proceeds will go into local cycling projects. Unsurprisingly this got my attention. He is keen that there is a plan to develop infrastructure locally and that is just the start of his ambitions.

He also sees Veloheads as a place for local bikey types to meet and have a brew and plan global domination or at least how we really turn Harrogate into a bike town. If there has been a flaw with what Cycle Harrogate has been about it is that we are a largely web based organisation that has struggled to make the jump into a more real, less virtual world.

You can help yourself to tea and coffee down at the workshop. Did I mention that Carl is offering very reasonably priced bike maintenance and repair, catering to a more down to earth market than some of the other local offerings?  If you feel like making a donation for your brew that is going into the local cycling projects pot too. He has a telly showing the cycling, you could find worse places to be when the the big stage races are finishing. Oh and as he is at one end of a leg of the Greeenway he has bike hire available as well.

Whilst he is covering all the bases and more, a couple of days a week he will be offering workshop training to local school kids who might otherwise slip through the academic net and end up the ghetto that is not in education or training, he already has these places filled.  This is good stuff you have got to love it.

You know having met and spoke to Carl, I see someone this town should be proud of and who we should all get behind. When someone is doing rather than saying, when they are putting their money into something and they want to build something sustainable for both them and the community. It is time to really get behind them. So Veloheads gets my vote. I hope as a town we support them and this  can be a catalyst for an even brighter and stronger local cycling culture.

To this end next Saturday the 15th November at 10am Andrew Jones MP and Rebecca Burnett Harrogate Borough Council Cycling champion are coming down to wish him well and help launch what I hope will be something all Harrogate bike riders want to support and who knows contribute too.

So if you can why not get yourself down to :

Unit 5bProvincial Works
The Avenue

That's halfway down the Avenue in Starbeck on the left as though you were going to Winkies or SAS. Or on the right if you come down the Greeenway. I want to show Carl we support what he is doing, that all this noise that me and a few of you have been making on twitter and facebook actually has human faces. I want to let our MP know that as cyclists we value Andrew Jones' support, but that we have ambitions to do more in Harrogate for all things bike. I will be there, probably after I have finished the Park Run. I really hope to see you there too.

If we build it they will come.

Posted on 8.11.14 | Categories:

Thursday, 16 October 2014

They work for you - Richard Cooper and NYCC fail to spend the cycling money they do have

I know I know, I had retired from this campaigning lark but this one has me spitting feathers. So there is money in the pot for a toucan crossing (bike traffic lights) on Wetherby Road/Slingsby Walk by the hospital. This is part of a government grant for bike infrastructure in Harrogate (LSTF if you are nerdy). What could possibly go wrong?

Without this crossing, on a bike, North Yorkshire Area 6 (transport dept) believe this crossing is dangerous. They are right, I wheel my bike into the road when I'm with my kids here and the cars stop rather than kill me, so my boys can then get across, it requires self belief though. They (Area 6) asked the councils LSTF steering group to consult on this. The steering group is: councillors, Richard Cooper (leader of Harrogate Borough Council), Jean Butterfield and Rebecca Burnett (HBC cycling champion).

Apparently Richard and Jean said no, Rebecca said yes.

This decision then went to NYCC Executive, Gareth Dadd for final decision. Harrogate Cycle Action submitted many emails, supporting the case presented by the Area 6 officers. Last Friday HCA received an email that the NYCC executive had approved the toucan crossing. 

Then something a bit odd happened. Monday they received an email from NYCC that the decision had been "wrongly recorded" and that the toucan had been refused. Instead there will be some signs and a rumble strip.

Now that is either democracy working or local government failing, but from where I'm sat it looks like a shite cop out. Remember for once we have the money, the transport experts say we need this crossing to make the cycleway safe, but our elected officials say no. 

Notice the word "elected" here, they work for you these people and you can contact Richard Cooper at to tell him what you think about this decision. 

Update 17/10/2014

24 hours and things have moved on. Richard is to meet with HCA but seems to be sticking to his and the council's final position on the toucan crossing. Bikey types seem to be the losers again, actually we all lose as it was never a war it was about the bigger picture in a congested urban environment. I have decided to get back out of this campaigning lark as I'm tired of arguing with local government about an agenda that in all honesty they really aren't that interested in.

I guess we get the politicians we deserve and I'm not prepared to do it, good on them that are. I'm going to climb rocks, and run and ride my bike. It's more fun and you die in the end.

Posted on 16.10.14 | Categories:

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sutton Bank MTB trails

I got out with the family at the weekend to the trails at the top of Sutton Bank. Park up by the visitors centre at the top of the hill and there is a new shop Sutton Bank Bikes. Take some change for the parking meters it's four quid and you can't use a card, I ended up parking down on the road but there are only a few spots.

You can hire bikes, we had our own but if you need them there is a good choice of sizes and kids bikes and tagalongs too. We rode the green trail and a bit of the blue. A trial map is a quid and it's a good one. There is a longer red trail that might be a little more involved, word is it is still pretty steady. We rode maybe 6 miles or so though the woods on some nice prepared trials and then over the road with a slight pull uphill that had my youngest whinging on bridleways. This before before the payback of a beautiful view over the escarpment and apparently the whole world as your ride back along the path on the very edge of the ridge. Then zoom down hill though some swooping corners back to the centre. A good cafe and a skills loop to warm up at the back of the shop with a bike wash, what is not to like. Not for your full susser downhill types, but a cracking family day out. Reccomended
Posted on 15.10.14 | Categories:

Monday, 15 September 2014

Open Harrogate A review

So whilst I was off my holidays the Open Harrogate App/website thingy came out. What of it?
There is a website with some info on it for residents and visitors which is nice to look at and easy to follow. It includes some good advice on why cycling walking and public transport are sensible decisions. There are some suggested routes as a walker and a bike rider which are good as far as they go. Along with the above there are some links to bike shops which once more is dandy. But nothing is terribly comprehensive and no links to clubs or Sports Development Harrogate for instance and it doesn't really integrate into Harrogate's online web presence.

The new cycling map is good but it's a pdf which I suppose is at least printable, but not very interactive so you have to use the mapping via the app. Again the app is fine, the interface works well, but when you ask it to route you on a journey, it sometimes takes you down the main arterial roads when there are traffic free or traffic calmed options nearby. It's a bit "dumb" it doesn't really have the "knowledge". The app will suggest places of interest and cycle routes nearby through the inspire me button, and that is good at least for visitors.

Thing is there seems to be no social media campaign or presence other than an instagram feed and there seems to have been no structured attempt to promote the app, other than an abortive thing on the Stray which was rather vague. I tried to attend but couldn't even work out what I was going to or when it started and I'm a full on nerd for this kind of thing. My worry is, if it is not evolving, or being pushed it seems destined to become an expensive white elephant. Which seems a pity as the slick and effective interface is currently let down by immature and incomplete content.

I'm afraid this feels like a little like a contractual obligation solution, rather than one designed and built with love and enthusiasm.

Posted on 15.9.14 | Categories:

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cycle cultures

Whoosh they were gone. I shouted for Cav and the whole team Quickstep until my lungs burned. They had control of THE Tour De France with 2k to go, barreling in toward Parliment Street as the sun burned down. Until that is Spartacus spoiled the party. Then with everyone else in the fan park I watched the bottomless heartbreak unfold.

Next day in Starbeck and Kittel rides past in pole position, I clapped but I had hoped to be cheering a Manx man. Was this the tour where the baton was passed from one great sprinter to another? I hope not, Cav seems too great a rider to just fade away. I hope he has a few more stage wins in him.

Post Grand Depart and the Cycle Harrogate Peleton heads for the continent. Stage one Germany: Lubeck and Bremen. Two Northern German towns one workaday, one with a bit of tourist glamour. Cycle lanes were everywhere as were cyclists. Lots of shared use pavements with no more than a white line down them. The give way markings at the junctions are set back and cars do indeed give way to bikes. 

Everyone just gets on with it. Lots of people ride bikes, not Lycra clad athletes just people getting about. I start off as a pedestrian forgetting to look out for bikes, but after half an hour it's second nature. The roads seen a little quieter as far as car traffic goes around town. The autobahns are still busy enough and my battered old SUV hugs the inside lane as Mercs torpedo past and we head north toward the ferry to Denmark.

If Germany was an emerging bike culture Denmark was a country where bike use is an accepted fact of life. Copenhagen is ramned with bikes. I'm guessing 20 percent of traffic is two wheeled. This in a bustling capital city built on a series of Islands where it rains a fair bit. The Danes have shed loads of bike infrastructure. There are vast bike parks at the stations, with endless rows of commuter bikes in them. Lots of segregated cycle lanes and through the smaller parts of town with narrower roads, there are lots of car slowing traffic bollards to ease (but not stop car traffic). This means you drive closer to 20mph though town but you keep moving. All this makes it easier for bikes, pedestrians and cars to rub along. Again not much lycra, few helmets or drop bars, just normal people in everyday clothes getting on with their lives

Everyone said this was how it was on the continent, that it can and has been done. I have seen it now, it is so, it is good.

I should now once more get wound up about Harrogate and the UK's failure to get proper serious about cycling but I will not. Harrogate is a town that is now post Tour we are on the world map, A town that now can attact cycle funding like Coldplay attract negative critism. A town that now has some small but growing political will and an ongoing bike debate but not yet enough of either I fear to tip over the statues.

I should rage, rage against the dying of the light. Rage at North Yorkshire County Council's outdated traffic plans, which still puts the car first, last, always. Yet here on the 58 parallel of Sweden's West Coast. Where at 11 O'clock at night the light will still not die. Light which shines upon a sea of small islands off the Bohuslan Archipelago. I think it is time for me to roll the dice and move on.

As of now Cycle Harrogate will be campaigning no more. I'm going to be offering cycle training soon under the Cycle Harrogate name. I might make a few quid, I might help more people cycle, that's what I'm about. Some of what I do will be in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council. Some may well involve North Yorkshire County Council. I will have more details mid August. So I will berate, lobby and cajole these organisations no more. 2 years is enough. Whatever I might think about some of what they do. I can have more impact getting people using what we have. If I have had any impact at all that's great but it time to move on. From now on If you want better biking in Harrogate it is your turn to bang the drum and do your bit. I hope someone or maybe many of you will do just that. We had a truly Grand Depart we now need to build a Grander cycling Legacy. 

If we build it they will come.

Dave Prince July 2014

Friday, 27 June 2014

Play fantasy Tour de France

I posted this last year. Other than the venue for stages one and two its nearly all still true. But this time they are coming TO OUR TOWN

Its that time again Wiggo is out but Froome looks on form and the behemoth of Cav looks as good a bet as ever. Its tour De France time. Get yourself by a telly at about 4.15 in the afternoon for the next few weeks. The nice people over at velo games run a fantasy Tour De France game, league, thingy. You pick a team and as the results roll in stage by stage you get points and somebody wins.
This year Cycle Harrogate are running a mini league so you can see how you compare with other local folk and maybe consider a career change if it goes well. This time  you will be watching "your" riders for real.
If you want to join in and play along you sign up then pick a team. Next click the join league button at the bottom. Its a bit fiddly but you will work it out. Its free and no cyclists are hurt during the making of your team 
This is the league code you need: 27161101 to join the Cycle Harrogate League

The winner gets well nothing, but the kudos of being the best team manager in Harrogate unless any of our local cycle shops want to put some prizes up? Oh and don't pick anyone in my team, I'm usually rubbish. Mind you, that Cavendish fellow looks fast for a Brit.

Posted on 27.6.14 | Categories:

Saturday, 31 May 2014

This years hot ticket

This from Andy Grinter, about an exciting one off Performance by the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Knaresborough, as well as a chance to talk to some of the people involved in the drama. It will sell out as there are not many tickets, I would suggest if you want to go you act now.

excerpts from the West Yorkshire Playhouse production
of the play by Maxine Peake
at the Frazer Theatre, Knaresborough.

Start: 12 June 2014 7:30 pm.   
Tickets: £5 from Art in the Mill Knaresborough. Tel 01423 862963

To celebrate Yorkshires role in this years Tour de France, West Yorkshire Playhouse has commissioned 'Beryl' a special stage adaptation of Maxine Peakes acclaimed 2012 Radio 4 play, 'Beryl: A Love Affair on Two Wheels'
'Beryl' celebrates the extraordinary sporting achievements of Morley cyclist and one time Knaresborough resident, Beryl Burton.
Running alongside The Playhouses production of Beryl are a series of events outside of the theatre to celebrate the life of Beryl Burton and her outstanding achievement in the world of cycling.
The Frazer Theatre are proud and excited to be hosting one of these events on Thursday 12th June at 7.30pm.

Actors from the playhouses production of Beryl will perform a short extract of the play. This will be followed by a short talk and a Q&A event with director Rebecca Gatward the actors and Beryls husband Charlie and daughter Denise Burton-Cole.

About Beryl Burton:-

It was 1954 when Beryl Charnock met keen cyclist Charlie Burton. In those days they cycled in clubs and once Beryl started she was smitten, not only with Charlie but by the thrill and freedom found on two wheels. Beryl was better than good, she was the best and she was determined to stay that way.
Five times world pursuit champion, thirteen times national champion, twice road-racing world champion and twelve times national champion. Her accolades include time trials, former world record holder, former British record holder, numerous sports awards an MBE and an OBE.

Beryl Burton was one of the most astonishing sports people ever to have lived but with her down to earth, no-nonsense approach to life and to success, she remains a mystery.

Posted on 31.5.14 | Categories: