The Transport Talk column with Don Mackenzie

The UCI World Championships are heading to Harrogate next month.
The UCI World Championships are heading to Harrogate next month.

This time next month Harrogate will be hosting the biggest sporting occasion ever held in North Yorkshire: the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cycling Championships will be hosted by our town over the nine days of this global event from 21 until 29 September.

Every race and time trial will finish in Harrogate town centre, with several events using the full Harrogate Circuit, a 14km long route which includes Otley Road, Pot Bank, Penny Pot Lane and the Duchy estate.

The North Yorkshire County Council highways team has built up considerable expertise in managing cycling events on public roads over the last five years, and will work closely both with the event organiser Yorkshire 2019 and hosts Harrogate Borough Council and the other districts involved.

The Grand Depart on day one of the 2014 Tour de France took place largely on North Yorkshire’s roads, ending in an exciting finish on West Park.

Five Tour de Yorkshire events have also been held since 2015 and our county has played a leading role in staging each of those races.

The UCI World Championships will be on an altogether different scale, with nine consecutive days of activities, over a whole working week and two weekends.

Yorkshire 2019 expects tens of thousands of visitors to the Harrogate area.

These include not only keen cycling fans from all over the world, but also some 1,400 cyclists representing about 90 countries along with their support staff, contractors and members of the world’s media – a total of about 7,000 persons before spectators are even taken into account.

Every visitor is a potential customer for the local businesses.

This year’s championships will feature for the very first time a Para-Cycling race and a Time Trial relay involving both male and female riders. Every race will be shown live on BBC Television and will be carried to a global audience of an estimated 250 million viewers.

The County Council, together with Harrogate Borough Council and Yorkshire 2019, is fully aware of the challenges presented by such a huge event. Not only do we need to ensure that the races are staged successfully and safely, but also that the residents and businesses of the towns and villages along the race routes, and especially in Harrogate itself, can enjoy the experience without too much inconvenience.

Since all the races and time trials will be held on the public highway, there will be road closures. These will affect vehicle access and parking on roads throughout the county, but especially in Harrogate.

Consequently, the UCIs will test the best-laid plans, which is why County Council officers have been working closely with Yorkshire 2019 for many months to ensure that everyone can go about their daily lives with as little disruption as possible.

Pedestrians will, of course, be able to move around as normal, and provision of public transport – trains and buses – is likely to be enhanced.

Every effort has been made to keep residents fully informed of what will happen on each day of the championships by various means, including: road shows and meetings with residents, businesses and key organisations like schools, medical centres, doctors’ surgeries and adult social care providers.

Now that the event is imminent, that process of engagement will intensify.

Here is what we are doing:

○ Leaflet drop from 9 September to 55,000 households giving up to date information on road closures and parking restrictions, and useful sources of information including a link to the Yorkshire 2019 App

○ Day by day road closure maps for Harrogate town centre, approach roads and the circuit

○ northyorks.gov.uk/UCI webpage updated regularly

○ Targeted social media campaign on @northyorkscc and www.facebook.com/northyorkscc

○ Frequent media releases including a full page in this edition of the Harrogate Advertiser

○ North Yorkshire County Council stands ready with Harrogate Borough Council and Yorkshire 2019 to welcome the world