Dear Reader: Traffic tinkering not enough + paper's life of change

Cycling - Does Harrogates future depend on two wheels?
Cycling - Does Harrogates future depend on two wheels?

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Is the date of the public consultation over different ideas of tackling Harrogate’s traffic congestion announced by North Yorkshire County Council last week part of politicians’ grander vision of an new east-west transport ‘corridor’ or a genuine chance for residents to have a say on making life less of a rat race and more eco-friendly?


That’s the million dollar question – or the £70m to £100m question - if a relief road is ever to be built in the Bilton/Nidd Gorge area.
Already, important sections of Harrogate opinion are saying a new road would be a bit of a red herring as it wouldn't actually reduce town centre jam enough.


But the greener alternative would be far from easy either.
As the word itself suggests, if we are going to put the ‘environment’ first, it will require policies which address the problem in the round.
That in itself is quite a task.

One Harrogate street's roadworks hell


Current plans for a major new cycle path all the way up the often logged-jam Otley Road are already being met with worries over the potential risk that cyclists may pose to pedestrians and vice-a-versa.


Many other parts of the UK and the wider world have already gone down this route – safely. I’ve seen the fancy-dan green astro turf-like cycle lane at Whitehall Road in Leeds for myself where only a raised pavement stands between walkers and cyclists.


I’ve yet to see a single incident.
Mind you, I haven’t really seen many cyclists use it at all.
For the cycle lane only runs along the crowded thoroughfare in fits and starts.


I didn’t know whether to be proud or horrified when I was told Herald Buildings, or the Slug & Lettuce bar, as it is known these days, now features in a Walking Tour of Harrogate.
Proud that the former headquarters of this newspaper from 1903 to 1990 is an important part of Harrogate.
Or horrified that somewhere I remember being a part of like it was yesterday is now distant enough to be part of a tourist trail history.
But times change and the truth is the Harrogate Advertiser has been on the move ever since it published its first edition in 1836, swapping homes throughout the 19th century.
Still picking up our laptops and moving out of our Cardale Park headquarters for the final time the other week was a big moment.
It wasn’t the first such moment that I’ve experienced.
I remember the day in 1990 we said goodbye to the narrow corridors of the old Herald Buildings where the Advertiser offices had been based since 1903.
Ultimately, it’s people that matter, not the buildings.
As it’s shown many times over the last 183 years, there’s more to the Harrogate Advertiser than bricks and mortar.
PS I don’t know if this is significant but the original role of the Herald Buildings was as The Yo
rkshire Home for Incurables.