North Yorkshire County Council has been working to coordinate traffic signals in the centre of Harrogate so that traffic flows more easily between two pedestrian crossings. The crossing has regularly caused tail-backs of traffic stretching down to the Kings Road.
Last winter the county council created a new £100,000 crossing in Harrogate to improve life for pedestrians and access to the town centre from the bus and railway stations.
The works took place at the junction of Lower Station Parade, Station Parade and Cheltenham Parade and were designed to make the junction safer for the high volume of pedestrians crossing.
A ‘pedestrian all red crossing’ was therefore created to, according to county council, enable visitors clearly and quickly to identify their preferred route across the junction to the commercial centre, visitor attractions and conference facilities in the town while all vehicular traffic is held on red.
There have been some technical issues with the new signals and the way the junction is used. A lack of coordination in signalling between the pedestrian crossing outside the ‘Theatre’ and the new junction, has led to some queuing and congestion.
Officers have therefore made some signalling adjustments which appear to be effective.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways said:
We are aware that these improvements for pedestrians have up to now caused delays for drivers. The criticism was valid and work is currently being done to improve the effectiveness of the crossings. Nevertheless, the new facilities were needed so that pedestrians could cross the roads in safety.
Work is being done now to speed things up for drivers too.
Highways engineers are developing a number of changes to improve traffic flow and close monitoring of traffic during peak times has shown that these changes are proving effective.
Firstly the ‘Theatre’ pedestrian crossing signals have been permanently coordinated with the new junction. This means that whenever the Cheltenham Parade signals are on green the ‘Theatre’ pedestrian crossing is also on green. This allows a greater number of vehicles to clear the junction on every phase and reduce queuing down Cheltenham Parade/Crescent. The changes, which have been closely monitored during the morning and afternoon peaks, appear to have improved the flow of traffic.
In addition, signal timings have been altered to ‘balance’ pedestrian and vehicle demands. Due to the sheer volume of pedestrians the junction was giving a large proportion of the cycle time to pedestrians, This has been redressed and by reducing pedestrian crossing timings – while maintaining pedestrian safety – this has allowed the overall crossing time to be reduced and green time for vehicles to be increased.
This has also been closely monitored and is proving effective. Moreover, the county council continues to explore further ways to increase the junctions’ efficiency.
Cllr Mackenzie said:
We are listening.
And where we can we are making changes in response to people’s concerns and our own monitoring.
In a busy town like Harrogate it can be difficult to balance the needs of pedestrians and motorists, but it is essential that we create a balance for the town to thrive. We want to work with Harrogate to ensure that the changes we make are effective and fair.