By Graham Chalmers
Cycling advice group North Yorkshire Cycling have come up with an interesting new plan of action in light of the Harrogate Advertiser’s current debate on the ‘no cycling’ sign on The Stray which has prompted such heated discussion.
Seeking to be the voice of moderation, it says it is in favour of everyone sharing all the paths so long as people treat each other with respect.
It believes some paths in town are not suitable for any cyclists, but those on the Stray that have recently been re-marked are perfectly suitable for children and commuters cycling with care and respect for pedestrians.
But, it add, serious cycling enthusiasts need to be on the roads, not on The Stray at all.
Seeking to be the voice of moderation, it believes ‘proper’ cyclists should not be on the narrower paths on The Stray but slower cyclists should have access to all paths.
In addition, it suggests the ‘no cycling’ signs on the narrower paths be changed into ‘cyclists give way’ signs.
Harrogate-based Adam Rogers of North Yorkshire Cycling, which offers online advice to cyclists on everything they’re interested in, from the best routes, events and places to stay, to the finest cafe stops, shops and more, had this to say about the issue:
“The topic has divided opinion and for the most part has encouraged sensible debate which is a healthy thing.
“Naturally, North Yorkshire Cycling is going to side with cyclists but it seems that some people are misunderstanding our stance.
“It seems most of the argument against allowing cyclists to use these paths is aimed at people like myself i.e.; serious enthusiasts who cycle often at the same speed as the general traffic and look a bit like wally’s in our pro outfits.
“it’s worth pointing out that these ‘racer’ type have very little interest in using these paths as they are no good for fast riding anyway.”
“It may surprise folk to learn that North Yorkshire Cycling certainly does NOT think this type of cyclist has a place on these fairly narrow, pedestrian dominated paths.”
But Adam also adds that for children and commuters on bikes, all The Stray’s paths are of benefit.
He said: “Youngsters either learning to cycle or simply enjoying riding their bikes (often accompanies by parents) for example pose no threat to pedestrians of any kind, and for this people those paths are perfect.
“They keep children safe and away from busy roads, not to mention encouraging people to ‘get off their arses’ and away from computer screens. Isn’t that the beauty of Harrogate?
“For commuters, the paths offer a safe route in to and out of the town and again provide very little to no problem for pedestrians.
“Most cycle barely over walking speed anyway and in my experience do not have the ‘elitist’ chip on their shoulders which accept can annoy non cycling folk.”
North Yorkshire Cycling believes that more common sense is the answer but it is calling for all paths on The Stray to be available to cyclists.
Adam said: “Our view is that the paths are not only suitable for children and considerate commuters (only), but cycling should be actively encouraged on them.
“Perhaps changing the signs to read ‘cyclists give way’ so it’s clear pedestrians have right of way or ‘cycle with care’ would be more appropriate.
“Yes there is a small minority that will always act like idiots but the answer is not to ban everyone.
“We think the whole situation calls for a bit of common sense from the pedestrians, the cyclists and Harrogate Borough Council.
“Alienating cyclist will most definitely not help the situation, people will still ride their bikes on these paths which will in turn just antagonise pedestrians even more, leading to a more tense and fragile relationship between both sides.”
For more cycling information, visit www.northyorkshirecycling.co.uk