Western Primary School is on Cold Bath Road, Harrogate, which is narrow and not designed for the huge volume of traffic which now uses it, much of it as a link between Otley Road and the town centre, and Otley Road and the A61. It is used by many HGV’s and buses, notably at peak school times; the smell and taste of their exhausts often hangs in the air.
The pavement outside the school is also narrow, resulting in a serious safety hazard for pupils, their families and staff, as well as for passers-by. The school is within a 20mph zone, but this is routinely exceeded. Even HGVs are frequently driven past at speeds well over the limit.
Head teacher Tim Broad had asked the County Council (NYCC) to install traffic calming measures to improve safety but was told that these are usually installed based on accident statistics and that Cold Bath Road didn’t qualify on this basis. As he told a County Councillor:
“I don’t want to be the headteacher who has to write to parents, telling them that we can now have traffic calming measures as a result of a child being killed. My personal ambition, each week, is to get to 3.40 p.m. on a Friday afternoon without having to have called an ambulance as a result of a vehicle colliding with a pupil or parent – that is how serious I feel the current position is.”head teacher of western primary school, cold bath road, harrogate
The problems had recently become even more acute due to the need for social distancing and also lengthy roadworks requiring temporary traffic lights causing vehicles to queue through the day near the school.
Harrogate District Cycle Action offered their support and advice on who to contact at the Council and emailed NYCC with photographs showing the congestion. Mr Broad emailed councillors and senior officers. The result was partial success.
Local councillor John Mann offered to use a significant part of his ‘NYCC Locality Budget’, well over £3,000, to fund a Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) which was one of the school’s key asks. The school will continue to press for other changes, such as better signage, repainting faded yellow lines and additional railings between the pavement and the road, but this is a significant and welcome improvement.