Whitby Town Deal and the absence of cycling

Whitby : Cycling

Back in 2020, Whitby was awarded £17m to spend on projects to “further enhance its economic growth and heritage, improve skills and upgrade digital and transport connectivity”. The public, if you happened across the notice about it (which most people never did), could attend Whitby Coliseum on 1 particular day, or could submit “ideas” on a website (why do councils have such a problem with communicating important messages? many don’t have internet). Several people suggested improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure which fits with the “transport connectivity” part of the remit. The “Town Deal” board (unelected) arbitrarily decided on a series of projects to take forward; no cycling / walking made it to their list. They provided no traceability to the publically provided ideas and to the decision process involved in reaching their final list, and they still haven’t published any of the business cases for the selected items. This is what they describe as “extensive consultation”. All we can assume is that either the board don’t cycle, or don’t want to listen to the major economic benefits of cycle as a means of transport, never mind its health benefits.

In 2021, during the phase of NYCC’s abortive foray into providing a cycle path alongside Guisborough Road, the twitter account for Whitby Town Deal announced “new cycle paths” and, after probing, revealed that they would be looking at taking the NYCC Guisborough Road scheme further, down Mayfield Road, and connecting to Caedmon College and the CinderTrack. This is mentioned in the same item as “Part Pedestrianisation of Whitby Riverside” in the meeting minutes for April 2021, which was “recommended for inclusion in Phase 2”.

Turns out that after all that (because council-run bodies never announce such things to provide traceability and transparency, nope, you have to spend time asking questions) it is not in their final “deal”, so there are no new cycle paths, because “the deal board” packaged it in with part-pedestrianisation of the swing bridge (which it had nothing at all to do with). Clearly they could have simply packaged it as its own improvement. But then we wouldn’t be bottom of the cycle path league in North Yorkshire if that had happened …

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