Western Primary School, Harrogate
Western Primary School, Harrogate

Following safety concerns, Western Primary School to have a Vehicle Activated Speed (VAS) sign

13 December 2020

Western Primary School is tackling a risk to their pupils from an increasingly busy main vehicle route on its door step.

The school is on Cold Bath road, a road that is becoming more congested, like many areas of Harrogate. Congestion peaks at around 8:30am to 9:00am, then again at from 3:00pm until 3:45pm. Much of the traffic is cars, but it also a route for school buses, the local bus service and a wide range of commercial vehicles.

The problem

  • The volume of cars, delivery vehicles and buses on Cold Bath road makes crossing difficult
  • Many parents and children walk up the hill, the only pedestrian crossing is past the school, towards the bakery. That means they are likely to cross the road lower down, rather than on the crossing
  • The road is narrow and difficult for a bus to pass a car at the same time
  • There is little separation between pedestrian and vehicles – a fixed physical barrier at the main entrance, but nothing at the car park (temporary) entrance
  • Although it is a 20mph area, the signage could be clearer, and perhaps many drivers don’t realise the speed limit
  • Some drivers are impatient and mount the pavement by the school or use the area by the car park entrance to gain more road space
  • The school now uses the carpark entrance as a main entrance and exit, and over a staggered period to allow distancing
  • Some parents congregate around the entrances, narrowing the pathway
Western Primary School, Harrogate
The entrance to the school car park and some local properties, creates an area where vehicles can tend to encroach onto the footpath – Western Primary School, Harrogate

Tim Broad, Headteacher at Western Primary School, said:

The volume of traffic and the risk to the children is very worrying. It’s not a wide footpath and cars drive right up against the kerb, or even onto the kerb.

It would only take for a child to step onto the road or a vehicle to mount the footpath and hit a child or parent to end up with a serious accident.

Like many schools we have had to change how we work and are now using the car park entrance as an additional entrance for the children. The trouble is that the yellow markings are not clear and the entrance looks like a roadway, meaning cars can drift onto it when the road is congested.

Western Primary School, Harrogate
Western Primary School, Harrogate

The solution

  • Drivers need to be more aware of the 20mph, the school has been engaging with the media, using social media and had children with signs reminding drivers directly
  • Vehicle Activated Speed (VAS) sign will be fixed outside the school
  • Parents need to be mindful of forming groups and narrowing the available footpath

A more fundamentally solution is to have a much lower volume of traffic on the route, but that needs to part o a town-wide traffic management solution.

The head teacher has thought about asking for other measures, such as removing the parking spaces on the other side of the road, he thinks that could be counterproductive, they would also likely need further traffic studies to be justified. The school appreciates that the area is for all, and that parking is at a premium on the street, necessary to encourage local trade and could actually increase the ease of speeding on the street.

North Yorkshire County Council, Highways last undertook a traffic survey for that area in 2015. We spoke to Cllr Don Mackenzie, who holds the North Yorkshire County Council portfolio for Highways. Cllr MacKenzie said that he was aware that the area was very congested, but current traffic studies or recorded incidents didn’t justify any action.

Cllr John Mann will be using part of his assigned locality budget to purchase a Vehicle Activated Speed (VAS) sign. That will shortly be erected directly outside the school.

Tim Broad said:

We are delighted that Cllr Mann is supporting the school with the VAS, as we feel that some action is needed.

Although there haven’t been any recorded accidents with injury, the area is high risk. I have personally seen near-misses, and I just want to avoid them becoming an accident.

Apart from the sign, we do need to ask people to stick to the speed limit and not drift onto the footpath area.


  1. Having read this and having lived on cold bath rd most if my life ,it isn’t just the cars I have seen a huge amount of parents just cutting across the road with there children between cars . My children were always told no matter what always go to the crosswalk and cross there ,and all the children and parents attending at that time did this . But now parents don’t seem to bother teaching their children this , so safety starts at home with the parents and the schools also need to address this with the parents .also bring back lolly pop people they teach children so much the importance of being safe .

  2. It would help enormously if parents did not clog up every parking space near the school
    Also ask the parents to control their children as they career out of school on scooters etc and have no regard for other pedestrians

  3. Absolutely agree it is an accident waiting to happen I do think some parking of cars on the road is a hazard when trying to cross the road it can be blind There are many areas of the town were speeding is prevalent, I find Don Mackenzie statement aborant “There is no record of accidents ” is he waiting for a fatality to happen ,what an approach to take disgusting!!!

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