Yorkshire is not only the largest county in the UK, but it is also one of the most picturesque, being home to three National Parks and England’s second most visited city after London.
‘Yorkshire folk’ are notoriously proud of their county, but more recently it has also started to gain prominence on the national and international stage. Not only have Lonely Planet voted it one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world, but it is also host to two stages of the Tour de France Grand Départ in July this year, an event which is expected to attract millions of visitors to the county and billions of TV viewers worldwide. If you haven’t already seen the official Le Tour Yorkshire bid video, it is definitely worth a watch.
But is our region really prepared for the World’s greatest cycle race? Like many other businesses in the Harrogate District, I have taken attended a number of the ‘Le Tour Yorkshire’ roadshows which have been organised in the lead up to the race weekend. These have been designed to help businesses find out more about how we can prepare ourselves logistically to welcome the largest sporting event the region has ever seen. For anyone who hasn’t been able to attend, or found themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available, here are some edited highlights.
Branding – Dos and Don’ts
Like the Olympics, the Tour de France has very particular brand guidelines. Unless they are talking about the event in a factual or editorial sense, there are certain words which businesses are not permitted to use in their marketing and advertising. This applies to everything from novelty products and menu items to special offers at local hotels.
More details (including downloadable PDF)
Making sure you take advantage of advertising, marketing and pr opportunities
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses to benefit from the massive influx of national and international tourists who will be visiting the region. It is estimated that up to 1 million people will descend on Yorkshire on the weekend of the 5/6 July and 130,000 of these are expected to visit Harrogate and Knaresborough.
Tour de France Business Toolkit (downloadable PDF)
Road closures and traffic management
Road closures are an area of hot debate in the North Yorkshire region. Many people will have been affected by recent road resurfacing works taking place in and around Harrogate. The good news is that, although many of us have faced disruption, there has been a £2 million investment in the Harrogate area in preparation for the Tour de France Grand Départ 2014. Admittedly much of this money has been redistributed from elsewhere, but it is at least good news for the Harrogate District.
One thing which was very clear from the various meetings is that the race will have a significant impact on residents and businesses, but hopefully if we are well informed and work together to use the opportunities presented to us to our advantage, we can turn this into a positive situation for us all. After all this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for residents and businesses alike.
The traffic management team at NYCC have been working hard to come up with a plan for the event which:
a) Allows the race to take place safely
b) Provides access for spectators
This means that the race route needs to be fully prepared and clear for the race, which will involved restricting vehicle access and prohibiting parking, as well as 500+ junction closures. As 51% of the race route is in North Yorkshire, across a network of 120 miles of road, the event has obviously involved a huge amount of planning. There are 4,500 officials and 2000 journalists alone associated with the Tour de France Grand Départ and aside from all the planning, there will also be a huge amount of work involved on the race weekend removing ‘street furniture’ and installing the race infrastructure to ensure that the cyclists can ride along our roads safely and without becoming caught in traffic. Essentially it is not the traffic management which will be the problem, but the sheer volume of traffic. The Tour de France Grand Départ is also closely followed by the Great Yorkshire Show (England’s largest agricultural show) on the 8/9/10 July, which is obviously another huge event for the Harrogate District.
Harrogate road closures discussed at the meeting were as follows:
Wednesday 2 July – closure and parking restrictions on Beech Grove which borders The Stray. Beech Grove will remain closed until Sunday morning.
Thursday 3 July – Beech Grove and West Park closed (Victoria Avenue to Cambridge Crescent). Traffic will be diverted from the Prince of Wales roundabout via the A59. Access to town centre is down Skipton Road/Kings Road. Extensive parking restrictions in place.
Friday 4 July – access to Harrogate town centre available. West Park will be open, but access will be restricted to Raglan Street, Montpellier Hill and Beech Grove. Parking suspensions in town centre from 11pm on Friday evening.
Saturday 5 July – the centre of Harrogate will be totally closed to non emergency vehicular traffic from 4am – 10pm (from north of Majestic Hotel to York Place and from the Royal Pump Room to the railway). There will be a one-way system operating on the A661. This will allow outbound access on the Saturday and inbound on the Sunday. There will be no public access to Station Parade. Restrictions past Leeds Bradford Airport were also advised, as well as traffic management in place on the A1 (M). Spectators are advised to walk, cycle or park at one of the many park and ride sites on the periphery. Businesses are being advised to see all deliveries and collections are completed by 3am on the Saturday morning or after 10pm at night. Deliveries should be made prior to the weekend wherever possible. Large scale disruption is inevitable with an event of this size and businesses need to make sure that they are well prepared to handle this. Staff will not be able to reach work by car on the Saturday, so alternative arrangements need to be made (public transport/walk/cycle). Although parking is available at the Showground, traffic volumes are likely to be very high.
In Harrogate parking is available at the Jubilee, Odeon and Park View car parks and also on the Great Yorkshire Showground (weather permitting) and at a range of car parks on private land across the region. Town Centre car parks will probably fill up the night before. Any spectators travelling from the south will be directed to the Showground – any from the north to parking alongside the A59Note that there will be NO shuttle bus service running from the Showground to the centre of Harrogate, although there are plans to dress Oatlands Drive. Ripon Racecourse will also be offering parking. In Knaresborough the roads will be closed from 5am and all car parks will be accessible prior to that. There will also be parking available at Knaresborough Rugby Club.
Sunday 6 July – the A59 will be closed from 5am – 3pm. Junction 47 of the A1M will be closed from 5am. Most traffic will be directed to the Great Yorkshire Showground to park, but additional parking will be available in Harrogate town centre. Roads in Knaresborough will be closed from the early hours of the morning and parking will be limited. There will be some parking away from the race route at Knaresborough Rugby Club, but spaces are likely to fill up early. Skipton and Wharfedale traffic will be routed via Pool and then to the A59 past Menwith Hill.
Public Transport – there will be limited bus services due to road closures, but increased rail services. However, the level crossing at Starbeck needs to be kept clear, so trains will be running York – Knaresborough and Harrogate – Leeds. Spectators are being encouraged to walk or cycle. There will be a significant secure bike park located within the Harrogate International Centre complex and space for 5,000 bikes at the Fan Park.
There will be no general access to Station Parade. There will be one-way systems on the A661, similar to those which operate for the Great Yorkshire Show, allowing outbound access only on the Saturday and inbound on the Sunday. All spectators coming from the south will be directed to the Showground, or to parking adjacent to the A59 if coming from the north, and will be encouraged to walk. Park and ride arrangements were considered but were not workable.
Interactive Road Closure Map
Public Transport schedules during the Tour de France
TRANSDEV BUS Timetable (5th and 6th July) – www.tourdefrancebus.co.uk
NORTHERN RAIL TRAIN Timetable (5th and 6th July) www.northernrail.org/travel/tour-de-france
(Note: the level crossing at Starbeck needs to be kept clear, so trains will be running York – Knaresborough and Harrogate – Leeds on Sunday 6th July)
EAST COAST TRAINS (special Tour de France services) www.eastcoast.co.uk/travel-information/the-grand-depart-comes-to-yorkshire
(Note: East Coast are also putting on some services between Leeds and Harrogate to complement the regular Northern Rail Harrogate Line service between Leeds-Harrogate-York)
Events and Spectator Hubs
All around the North Yorkshire region, local community groups have been working hard to make preparations for the weekend to ensure that local residents, businesses and tourists alike fully benefit and see our beautiful county at its very best.
There are 17 official Tour de France Grand Départ spectator hubs across the district, three of which are located in the Harrogate area – Harrogate West Park, Knaresborough and Ripon. Each hub can accommodate around 20,000 people and should offer good views of the race. In addition there are two other, non official, key spectator areas along the route as the race passes through our district. These are located at Masham and Starbeck. All of these locations will have big screens available in a prominent location for 48 hours around the event.
Movement between places will be very difficult once the race has started, so spectators are advised to find a spot and stay there for the duration of the race. The time between the first and last vehicle passing a given point is around four hours.
Harrogate – the main spectator hub will be located on West Park Stray. There will be additional viewing areas at Crescent Gardens and in the town centre. The race will finish outside Hotel du Vin on the Saturday (day 1), although a good proportion of the area will not be accessible to the general public. There will be a free ‘Velo-GoGo Fan Park’ operational from 3-6 July (10am – 10.30pm) on the south side of West Park Stray, with activities including a big screen, markets and live events. The Fan Park is the only one located outside of London and will be family orientated in its focus. To this end it will not be showing any football World Cup coverage over the weekend. For any catering related businesses in the area, there are potential food/retail opportunities. Market stalls are £600 for three days and £600 per metre frontage for hot food vendors. More information is available at www.foodiesfestival.com and www.tourdefrancefanpark.co.uk .
Harewood – Harewood House are hosting the ‘Festival of Cycling‘ with a capacity of 25,000, corporate entertaining, music and entertainment. It is hoped that people will cycle to Harrogate from Harewood after the grand launch.
Masham – big screen, family entertainment, beer tents/festival, live music, French and local markets, car parking and camping
North Stainley – camp site and events at Lightwater Valley
Ripon – spectator hub in city centre, open air cinema, markets, parking at Racecourse, activities at golf club and tennis centre, race meeting on Monday 7 July, Ripon Cathedral annual beer festival
Pateley Bridge – pop up Pateley camp site, camping, entertainment. Pateley Bridge is not on the official tour route, but it is an excellent base for campers as people can access the route from three points.
Ripley – 3,000 units planned, car parking, corporate hospitality, gala dinner, French market, big screen, evening entertainment
Killinghall/Hampsthwaite – Bunk barns, camping, village entertainment
Green Hammerton – parking, camping, village entertainment
Knaresborough – official spectator hub, big screen, market, day and evening entertainment, car parking, 22000 visitors expected. More details available at: www.letourknaresborough.org.uk
Starbeck – family entertainment and big screen (Belmont Field)
For the first time there is also a 100 day cultural festival in the lead up to the tour. Find out more here.
Disclaimer: the above information was correct at the time of writing, but the author accepts no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies resulting from changes to the above information closer to the event.