A public consultation on the controversial Beech Grove Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Harrogate closes on Saturday.
The sudden decision to close the road to through traffic in February provoked anger, with some cars cutting across the Stray to avoid the newly-installed bollards.
North Yorkshire County Council initially said the move would be reviewed after six months but later extended the trial to 18 months until August 2022. But the consultation ends this weekend.
Don Mackenzie, the executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, told the Stray Ferret the intervention had successfully freed up road space for cyclists and pedestrians and there was a good chance of it becoming permanent.
Beech Grove will link up with the upcoming Otley Road cycle route, work on which is due to begin on September 6.
Cllr Mackenzie said:
“Its been successful. There’s been views in both directions but most residents have accepted it as a positive.
“I see it continuing after 18 months. It’s a part of town where we are making changes to sustainable travel. I can see the Low Traffic Neighbourhood remaining in place formally.”
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Kevin Douglas, of Harrogate District Cycle Action, said early teething problems, such as motorists driving on the Stray, had been overcome and the scheme was now working well.
He told the Stray Ferret:
“We think it’s been a good thing. It’s working well.
“The problem is they haven’t done the Otley Road cycle route yet.
“We need to keep the Low Traffic Neighbourhood. It’s a key link into town.
“There’s been a noticeable number of cyclists and pedestrians using it. That’s a good reason to keep it and it will only improve.”
‘Just pushes traffic elsewhere’
The Conservative government has set aside funding for active travel schemes that aim to reduce car usage. Over the past couple of years, many other Low Traffic Neighbourhood have cropped up across the country.
Harrogate resident Anna McIntee, co-founder of the group Harrogate Residents Association, launched a petition calling on North Yorkshire County Council to scrap the scheme. It has over 400 signatures.
She told the Stray Ferret she believed all the scheme had achieved was to push traffic elsewhere in the town.
“The general feedback from speaking to residents is that access is a lot harder for them, especially the elderly who rely on their vehicles but also delivery vehicles and emergency services.
“The traffic has been pushed onto Victoria Road which is narrower and double parked, which is dangerous, as well as the surrounding roads, two of which have schools. This is causing more standing traffic and congestion leading to an increase CO2 emissions.
“There is no denying Harrogate is congested and we all need to work together to reduce our carbon emissions by easing congestion but blocking off random roads isn’t necessarily the solution.”
If you have a view about the Beech Grove and would like to contribute to the consultation, email North Yorkshire County Council here: [email protected]