Letter - Leeds Road junction could be even busier

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Your lead story ‘On Your Marks’ quotes the developers’ promise to ‘transform and dramatically improve’ the major Leeds Road junction which will be the site of the new M&S in Harrogate.

Unfortunately, for many pedestrians (including wheelchair users) and cyclists the junction is likely to become busier and more dangerous than ever.

The plans include three new pedestrian islands - at the top of Hookstone Road, on Coronation Road, and one on Leeds Road well over 100 metres south of the junction, beyond Beech Avenue - plus an enlarged island on Leeds Road north of the junction.

There is no provision for pedestrians on Leadhall Lane nor is there any on Beech Avenue, which will be the only way into the car park for drivers and a main access point for those on foot.

Roads are being widened to add an extra lane and to accommodate service vehicles, causing some pavements to be narrowed.

Pedestrians will have to cross wider roads, carrying even more traffic.

For cyclists, the situation is even worse.

In the original plans there was no consideration at all for cyclists except for some stands at the new store.

Following lobbying from members of Harrogate Cycle Action there is now to be a cycle lane and advanced cycle box on Leadhall Lane only.

Cyclists approaching the junction from the south along Leeds Road will have to contend with three lanes of traffic, whereas now there are two.

There is no protection for cyclists wanting to turn right into Hookstone Road, and those continuing straight into Harrogate have to deal with both a merging of two lanes into one and also a bus stop on the road opposite the parade of shops.

There is no advanced cycle box on Hookstone Road, despite a very urgent need to include one.

Cyclists wishing to continue straight over the junction into the significantly narrower Leadhall Lane require several seconds start on vehicles to make this a reasonably safe thing to do.

The current plans are outdated.

There is a broad consensus on the need to encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport more, and to drive less, both for our wellbeing and that of the planet. We continue to lobby North Yorkshire County Council, which, like the UK as a whole is showing an increased interest in encouraging cycling (e.g. the 2014 Tour de France ‘Grand Depart’, the Nidderdale Greenway shared use path and a successful bid for £1.65m of Government funding for sustainable transport in Harrogate), to reconsider.

On August 12 the Prime Minister announced that the Government will introduce measures to ensure that “new trunk road schemes that have a significant impact on cyclists, such as junction improvements or road-widening, will be ‘cycle-proofed’ so they can be navigated confidently by the average cyclist.”

This is a classic example of such a junction, and we trust the council will grasp this opportunity before it’s too late.

Malcolm Margolis

Harrogate Cycle Action


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