A Harrogate Relief Road is in the news again Don Mackenzie executive member of North Yorkshire County Council for highways is all over it like a rash.
There are a few routes in the mix but the ones that seem to be getting love from the Don are heading from Calcutt-way along the banks of the Nidd Gorge towards Killinghall and then maybe a link to the Skipton Road near the Old Spring Well pub.
It will cost 70 odd million quid which is a lot of money. I have views...
In news just in the cycling wonk is not against it, with a few BIG caveats. Relief roads can work provided, the route they relieve is made less attractive for cars, so people use the relief road otherwise you just make traffic. Harrogate's traffic problems are not the unwashed hordes heading to Skipton it's local people making local journeys in cars for the most part. At least that is what all the traffic surveys say.
Caveat 1On it's own a relief road is a bit of a chocolate fireguard. Traffic is going to grow because we are going to build houses, doubtless more slowly and with more anti-house hoopla then elsewhere but we are. Especially if you want your children to live somewhere else in their thirties other than in that room you had planned to make an office/craft room/observatory in your middle age. A relief road on its own will just provide temporary relief we need to remodel the towns roads too.
Unsurprisingly this cycle flag waving, green tinged, eco muppet thinks some cycle and walking provision other than the current crap piecemeal provision can help. I'm not talking banning cars (although more pedestrianisation by the shops would be a good idea but lets leave that particular thorn for another day). I mean designing for walking and cycling like we do in that there London and on the continent (remember Europe we used to be part of it or something?). So proper segregated cycleways safe routes to school, making using a car in town something you only feel the need to do when its raining. Or you know if you just can't be arsed that day because for short trips it's more of a pain than walking or cycling or getting the bus. Stuff like that.
Caveat 2I would like to see what I'm arguing for above, incorporated into whatever bid goes forward to central government. It should be about a totality of solution not a relief road alone.
Caveat 3The traffic model we have spent a lot of money on needs to be made open for public scrutiny. I want to know what data was used to develop it and what assumptions about growth and housing have been made. I am no academic, but I have an analytical mind, I can scrutinise data, so can many others. I don't want to take the main argument for this thing on trust. I want to see the working.
Some more thoughts.We ought to be well placed as a town to do this. We have in Andrew Jones Mp someone who is a Transport Minister and has a responsibility for sustainable transport. We have Rebecca Burnett who is responsible for sustainable transport on Harrogate Borough Council. There is Don Mackenzie who seems to be betting the farm on a relief road and is responsible for transport at NYCC. There is plenty of elected capacity here what could possibly go wrong?
Doing all of the above will have costs beyond money. If you put a relief road down the side of the Nidd gorge it will never be the same again, nor will the Greenway which Don Mackenzie was a supporter of. Lots of people are going to be pretty unhappy about this idea, Malcolm Margolis already is. All development has costs we need to decide what we want countryside or convenience?
Personally I think sorting out our urban transport issues trumps preserving the gorge even though the gorge is fantastic and I'm in favour of building houses too. I accept other people take a different view.
Getting things done in Harrogate is a right faff people would much rather talk than do, I wonder if anything will be in place before I draw my pension, I'm 48?