The town which hosted the finish of the first leg of the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire has revealed ambitious plans to build on the legacy of the showpiece sporting event.
Coun Richard Cooper, the leader of Harrogate Borough Council said Harrogate, where Mark Cavendish famously crashed as he sprinted to the finish line on the opening day of the Tour, was keen to build on the success of the event and create a cycling legacy.
He said his local authority is planning a bid to the Government’s Cycling Delivery Plan unveiled by Prime Minister, David Cameron. Local councils have been asked to register their interest in being part of the Government’s initiative – a ten year drive to increase cycling across England.
It includes an ambition to double cycling levels by 2025 and increase the percentage of school children aged 5 to 10 years walking to school to 55 per cent by 2025. The Government recently published a draft of its long-awaited consultation on encouraging more people to cycle and walk.
Coun Cooper said: “We will never ever forget the Tour de France in July.
“But not forgetting it isn’t good enough. We need to build the legacy of those fantastic two days in summer. By working with the Government as part of their Cycling Delivery Plan we can make the step change in cycling that will honour that legacy.”
Other projects to improve cycling across the Yorkshire region have already received Government support. Mr Cameron announced his nationwide drive to promote cycling across England last year and revealed projects receiving support included a £30m project in West Yorkshire which incorporates a new 14-mile cycleway linking Leeds and Bradford city centre.
Coun 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.”
Coun Helen Flynn, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, said: “I am very keen that here in Harrogate, in particular, we seize this opportunity to apply for Government funding and have a joined up plan to promote more utility cycling and improve infrastructure. One way to ease our congestion woes and improve air quality is to get more people making routine journeys of under 5km by bike.”
A scheme for a cycleway on Knaresborough Road, separated from traffic to provide a safe and direct cycle link from Harrogate to Knaresborough, has already been proposed by Harrogate Borough Council’s Cycle Forum.
The Forum, chaired by Cycle Champion Coun Rebecca Burnett, is developing a vision for what Harrogate’s cycle network could look like with significant investment. The scheme, would link Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough, and would be backed up by several other smaller projects which will help fill in the gaps of the existing cycle network.
The Government gave £18m to works in West Yorkshire last year which include a new cycleway between Leeds and Bradford.
Work is under way on major improvements to six miles of canal towpath between Kirkstall in Leeds and Shipley, which is being resurfaced as part of the transport scheme. The £30m project will also see a 14-mile cycleway being created between Leeds and Bradford. It will also include 20mph zones on feeder routes into the inter-city cycleway.