As reported recently, the Budget allocated £27 billion for new high-carbon roads, and nothing at all for active travel.
The result of allocations from the existing Transforming Cities Fund also appeared very disappointing, with initial indications that Harrogate had missed out altogether.
However, there is just a glimmer of hope.
It seems that of the £317 million allocated from the Transforming Cities Fund to the West Yorkshire Combined Authorities bid, £7.9 million is to go to Harrogate.
I was told that this money is ‘for the station’, without any further details.
Now, an article in the Harrogate Advertiser suggests that some of the £7.9 million could be used not just for the station building, but to improve walking, cycling and public transport access to it.
‘Access to Harrogate rail station and bus station will be made easier through the creation of a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and new cycle and walking routes will provide improved access across and to the town centre and the north of the town.’
In the Advertiser article, Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Walking & Cycling Champion, made comments about a ‘gateway scheme centred on Station Parade’ which would enhance the area for pedestrians and improve facilities for cycling and public transport.
We will have to wait and see. Although the news is cause for optimism, we have seen with the Otley Road cycleway that even after funding is granted, months and years can pass with no changes to our streets.
We would like to see greater urgency from our local authorities in responding to the multiple challenges associated with transport: the climate crisis, local air pollution, and health and obesity.
Public Health England says that there are 28-36,000 deaths per year from air pollution. We see that other threats to health do result in emergency measures; for reasons I don’t understand, air pollution does not, so far at least.
We hope that improvements to enable active travel can be made quickly.