Harrogate's growing traffic congestion + train nightmare

Could Harrogate's problems be solved by a flyover!?
Could Harrogate's problems be solved by a flyover!?
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Dear Reader: A weekly column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

In terms of traffic, it’s the perfect storm.
Take a highly attractive place to live, a government committed to looser plans rules and the rise of the two or, even, three-car family and the results are almost inevitable.
I’m not alone in this thought, a growing number of posts on this newspaper’s Facebook are now obsessing over traffic congestion.
Some say too many new houses are being built in this district, others call for the construction of a new bypass or two while others put the blame on traffic planners who, to quote one reader, “have never been to the areas they create traffic systems for.”
Frankly, it’s hard to see anything much changing in any of the above any time soon.
That in itself may say something about the sense of powerlessness shared by many people in current times.
But it wasn’t always so. In an earlier era of, perhaps, too much planning, a bold idea arose to tackle traffic in Harrogate town centre.
Build a concrete flyover!
I came across this surprising nugget when I organised an architectural exhibition for Harrogate International Festival Fringe a few years ago.
Called Past Dreams of the Future, it highlighted modern ideas for developing the town in the mid to late 1960s which never became a reality.
And the reason they never became a reality was simple.
Enough people demanded they be stopped, including this newspaper and members of Harrogate Borough Council.


There are times in your life when you find yourself wishing you were in a different carriage or a different train.
Such an occasion happened to me on Saturday while travelling on the York to Harrogate line.
Every summer I go to London and back by train for a day trip and every year this seems to coincide with racing at York.
And every time I go to London and back by train for a day trip coinciding with racing at York, a group of smartly dressed but worse for wear racegoers always seem to choose my carriage to tumble into.
The mixing of sobre passengers and, er, merry ones never makes for a happy cocktail in my experience.
And so it proved on Saturday.
I’m no stranger to the affects of a drink or two but this was something different.
Not that anyone did anything about it as the train rattled its way through Hammerton and Cattal.
No one complained. No one piped up. And neither did I.
A similar situation in the USA would undoubtedly have led to a verbal outburst, then a confrontation, followed by an assault and, possibly, a murder, then a protest and a riot.
So, perhaps, the silent majority did exactly the right thing by keeping quiet in the train carriage from York.
Rather than a result of apathy or fear, perhaps it was a matter of wisdom?