Harrogate could get county’s first ‘Dutch-style’ roundabout - here's how it would work
Harrogate could get the county's first 'Dutch-style' roundabout as part of the £10.9m Gateway project. But why is it being proposed and how could it work?
The junction changes have been put forward for the existing East Parade, Station Bridge, Station Avenue and North Park Road roundabout in front of the Odeon cinema.
Inspired by road layouts in the Netherlands, the roundabout would give priority to pedestrians and cyclists with improved crossings and an outer ring for cycling which in parts would be segregated from traffic.
The aim is to encourage sustainable travel and improve safety for those travelling on foot or by bike. But it would also demand greater awareness from motorists who would give way as they both enter and exit the new roundabout.
North Yorkshire County Council - which is leading on the Gateway project - said the proposed layout "balances the need for increased protection and priority for pedestrians and cyclists with maintaining capacity for vehicles."
The council has also won the support of Harrogate District Cycle Action whose chairman Kevin Douglas described the proposals as a "big step forward" in the town's sustainable transport future.
But these roundabouts have not always gone down smoothly elsewhere, with the UK's first in Cambridge drawing some criticisms.
While Cambridge County Council says the roundabout has improved safety overall, a safety audit team reported several problems including a risk of exiting drivers finding it difficult to observe multiple cyclists approaching from behind.
Planners up and down the country are keeping a keen eye on the roundabout, and other areas have already shown an interest in replicating it, including Barnsley and North Tyneside.
Mr Douglas said he was confident the plans for Harrogate would improve safety for all road users and that he would like to see more of these roundabouts introduced.
He said: "The roundabout will hopefully show people what can be done in terms of improving safety and will only encourage more people to cycle into the town centre.
"At the moment, going into and coming out of a roundabout can be a risk if people don't see and give cyclists priority, whereas with this you are going to get that."
He added: "If we are going to take action on climate change then we do have to reduce the number of vehicles in the town centre and give people that confidence to go out on their bikes.
"That is what we should be aiming for here - people being able to get into town safely without using their cars."
These plans are not the only new roundabout proposals for Harrogate, with transport officials currently considering a CYCLOPS (Cycle Optimised Protected Signals) roundabout for the Station Parade junction of Victoria Avenue.
This is part of a separate active travel scheme and would work similar to a 'Dutch-style' roundabout but with traffic lights.
North Yorkshire County Council said the CYCLOPS roundabout was put forward as an "aspiration of what might be achieved" at the junction and that it is now being considered at the detailed design stage of the scheme.
Under the Gateway project, there are also plans for a part-time pedestrianisation of James Street and a reduction of Station Parade to a single lane of traffic to create room for a cycle lane, as well improvements to Station Square and the One Arch underpass.
The latest consultation on the project is currently underway with residents and businesses having until November 12 to have their say before more detailed proposals are drawn up and a final decision is made.
If approved, it is anticipated that construction will start in spring 2022 for approximately 12 months.
For more information and to have your say go to www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/harrogate
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter