Residents' backlash over one-way system plans at Oatlands Drive in Harrogate

Oatlands Drive may be one of Harrogate’s wider roads blessed with pre-existing, if narrow, cycle lanes running next the Stray, but you would be mistaken if you thought it was the one place where the idea of the sort of sustainable transport measures already seen on the Continent and parts of the UK would be welcomed in a peaceful fashion.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 5:04 pm
Should a one-way system be introduced in Oatlands Drive in Harrogate as part of plans to accommodate proper cycle lanes? (Picture by Anna McIntee)

North Yorkshire County Council, in conjunction with Harrogate Borough Council, is currently seeking to introduce three separate initiatives to turn the town away from car use towards sustainable transport with Government funding.

They include:

The Gateway Project in the Station Parade area

‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ at Beech Grove and Lancaster Road

New Active Travel Fund cycle paths at Oatlands Drive Victoria Avenue and on the A59 out of Knaresborough towards Starbeck.

In fact, the area round St Aidan’s High School, known as the Saints, has become a hotbed of protest since North Yorkshire County Council announced proposals to turn the road into a one-way system to introduce new ‘proper’ cycle paths.

Resident Anna McIntee set up a petition against the one-way system last week via you.38degrees.org.uk

Entitled Stop Oatlands Drive Harrogate becoming 'ONE WAY' only, since then, it has received more than 1, 600 signatures.

Describing herself as "a resident, a cyclist and an environmentalist", she says making Oatlands Drive one way, going away from the town would be "disastrous".

She told the Harrogate Advertiser: “Having three children I cannot tell you how much I am against the idea of making Oatlands Drive one way. It would cause chaos and danger for the whole town.

"There are thousands of residents and pupils who will be adversely affected by this change.

"The adjoining roads York Place, Hormbeam Road and Hornbeam Chase are narrower and do not have cycle lanes. To make children cycle on there (to access Oatlands Drive) could end up causing numerous accidents.

"The one way would also cause all the surrounding roads to be heavily congested and a far greater danger for cyclists young and old.

"The new football pitch to be build on Oatlands Drive, (open until 8pm at night!) would have only one exit and would lead to queues and more traffic on the surrounding roads in the dark.

"How do residents of the Saints get to the North of town?

“It will cause the surrounding roads to become congested and a danger to cyclists and pedestrians. It will also cause queues of traffic leading to more Co2 emissions."

Meanwhile, Paul Kelley has helped form the new St James Drive Neighbourhood Group to oppose the plans.

He said: “We have serious concerns about the knock-on effects of developing Oatlands Drive into a one-way road in order to accommodate a two-way cycling route.

“We all understand the importance of environmental measures and encouraging less polluting forms of travel but this policy would result in massive access problems for the schools, significantly increased journey times and even more congestion on Leeds Road and Wetherby Road with rat-running’ behaviour through the residential streets in between; and dangerous connections for cyclists.

"The plans would cause massive disruption and chaos to St Aidan's High School. With its 2,000 pupils, 350 staff and an ‘army’ of buses needed to transport children from a wide area, the school needs proper access to be factored into any plan to radically alter the current road system outside its premises.

"Everything above applies also to St John Fisher, High School which, of course, shares a combined sixth form with St Aidan’s.

"There is clearly a difficult balance to be struck between a range of competing interests: businesses in the town needing footfall and easy access by cars as well as by ‘active travel’, the public wanting clean air, less congestion, active travel options but also the freedom to use their own vehicles for easy access.

" And then there are the officers and the councillors – themselves not always on the same page.

"Forcing change from the top down, with whatever worthy environmental aims, is not the way to go and I think it is this factor, above all, that is causing something of a backlash."

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