Cycling and walking groups to be invited to rank improvement ideas

This story was published 8 July 2020

Cycling and walking groups across North Yorkshire are to be invited to prioritise active travel schemes that have been put forward following an appeal to the public by the County Council.

Cycling groups

North Yorkshire County Council asked organisations and individuals to suggest improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure as it prepared to bid for up to £1.06m in the second tranche of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Emergency Active Travel Fund.

The authority received about 35 requests for active travel schemes from all over the county. Its highway teams have been assessing the requests to understand the delivery and feasibility of each scheme.

As soon as this is done, the council will share details with appropriate groups across the county and ask them to rank schemes from highest to lowest priority. The groups’ responses will be considered as the council prepares its funding bid.

These requests are alongside the work officers have already done to create the County Council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs), which include schemes that are bid-ready for when suitable funding opportunities arise.

For example, County Council engineers in the Harrogate district have been working on several ambitious designs since May. Schemes include cycle routes along Oatlands Drive, Victoria Avenue and a dedicated cycle lane along the A59 between Mother Shipton’s Cave and the Golf Club. A proposal to introduce an experimental cycle lane along Beech Grove was part of the first tranche of funding. All four schemes are in the LCWIP and Harrogate Borough Council’s Cycling Implementation Plan. The designs provide links to the existing cycling and walking network as well as the Otley Road cycle route scheme that will be delivered this year. These schemes will be included in the lists that will go to travel groups.

The County Council has also confirmed that it will press ahead with the full package of work submitted in its tranche one bid to the Emergency Active Travel Fund to encourage social distancing, facilitate walking and cycling and stimulate the economy as North Yorkshire emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown. Despite the DfT’s decision to give the authority only £133,000 – half the possible maximum – in that first tranche bid, the County Council intends to supplement the DfT funding to ensure it delivers all the measures in its bid.

David Bowe, Corporate Director of Business and Environmental Services, said: “Regardless of the DfT decision, we know that what we are doing is vital in helping to maintain and stimulate the recovery of the local economy, so we are pressing ahead with all the proposals that are in our bid.

“The focus of our first tranche bid was the temporary measures we have already put in place to enable people to visit town centres safely so that they can support reopening local businesses and to travel confidently on foot or by bicycle wherever possible. We will continue to fund and maintain these temporary measures through the summer, as set out in our bid, even though we do not have the full funding allocation from the DfT.”

For the second tranche, early indications from the DfT suggest higher priority will be given to cycle schemes. However, the County Council is awaiting formal guidance on the requirements and timescale of submissions for the second tranche submission, and this will influence the bid.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We are grateful for the suggestions that people have submitted from across the county. We will now ask interested groups to tell us which schemes they would prioritise.

“When we share the information with groups, we will include an indication of the cost of each scheme. Some may be ruled out at this time as being too expensive or not feasible for other reasons, such as land constraints. Certainly, it will not be possible to do everything with the relatively small amount of funding we will be able to bid for in the second tranche.

“Some schemes put forward involve walking enhancements, too. In any off-road improvements we provide for cycling we would also look to include pedestrian improvements.”

The County Council hopes to be in a position to share the suggested schemes with groups by the end of this week.

The Emergency Active Travel Fund is the first phase of a £2bn five-year sustainable travel package announced by the Government.