Harrogate's double public transport boost with new park and rides and extra rail services for passengers
The councillor leading Harrogate’s drive towards a greener transport future has hailed a double boost - including extra train services and the town’s first Park & Ride services.
Coun Don Mackenzie said residents and businesses can expect a winter of changes on the town’s road system as the authorities push the pedal on sustainable transport.
Despite resistance from some residents and businesses to current plans for cycle paths and car restrictions, Coun Mackenzie said highways authority North Yorkshire County Council was committed to moving forward rather than backing down.
“He said: We have many potential recommended measures to introduce following the Harrogate Congestion Study, not least further boosting of sustainable travel and public transport.
“The county council leader, senior officers and I met with the county’s two big bus operators on Monday to discuss our forthcoming bid for funding from the Government’s Bus Services Improvement Plan.
“If successful in our bid, potential measures include new park and rides for Harrogate, new bus lanes and other measures giving buses priority on our roads.”
Coun Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for access and transport, also said he was delighted to reveal that Northern Rail had confirmed that the Harrogate-York line will see a doubling of services to two trains per hour in each direction from December.
The good news for passengers is the result of a county council-led £10 million scheme to upgrade track and signals on the rail line at Cattal.
Councillors’ rejection last week of a 770-signature strong petition calling for the town’s only Low Traffic Neighbourhood to be scrapped reflects a political will to press ahead with active, sustainable travel and its emphasis on public transport, cycling and walking.
After hearing complaints that the trial restrictions on Beech Grove had only made traffic worse on surrounding streets since it was introduced six months ago, Harrogate and Knaresborough area constituency committee of North Yorkshire County Council voted to continue the LTN scheme in the area for another year.
Coun Mackenzie said the Low Traffic Neighbourhood at Beech Grove was just the start.
He said: “The Beech Grove Low Traffic Neighbourhood is a very modest step to what this area constituency committee asked officers to do. Namely, to introduce a system of better facilities for walking and cycling in Harrogate town centre and to also encourage people out of their cars and onto their feet, bikes and public transport.”
As well as refusing to back down on the LTN at Beech Grove in the face of opposition, the county council expects a range of new ‘green’ projects at a street-by-street level to be completed or under way in the next six months.
Construction work finally began on the new Otley Road cycle path this week with an expectation of the opening phase being completed by the end of November.
Contractors are to be appointed shortly for two new cycle paths to be built by March 2022 at Victoria Avenue and a stretch of the A59 between Knaresborough and Harrogate Golf Club.
A feasibility study into sustainable transport measures round the area of Oatlands Drive is to be delivered by the county council in the next few weeks.
Coun Mackenzie has long believed park and rides are a key part of any long-term solution to Harrogate's traffic congestion woes and battle to hit carbon emissions targets.
Earlier in the year, he said the county council had identified two sites near Pannal Golf Club and Buttersyke Bar roundabout south of Pannal as the two most promising candidates for Harrogate's first park and rides.