Oxfordshire's LTP Vision
Oxfordshire’s LTP Vision

On Monday 15th January 2024, we met with North Yorkshire Council (NYC) officers to make our suggestions for the Local Transport Plan (LTP) which the council is drafting.

Harrogate Cycle Action’s Document (Which NYC Did Not Read)

Around a week before the meeting we sent NYC a document with our LTP suggestions, as a basis for the discussions.

We were disappointed to be told that none of the NYC officers had read our document in advance of the meeting.

Vision

NYC told us the structure of the LTP, starting with a Vision. We pointed them to the Vision in Oxfordshire County Council’s LTP, see the image at the top of the page.

We asked that decarbonisation of transport, active travel and public transport be central elements of North Yorkshire’s LTP Vision.

Investment Priorities

NYC’s LTP needs to set out Investment Priorities.

We pointed out that in recent years, the private motor car has been the council’s priority, as evidenced by the many millions spent on expanding capacity for cars.

We suggested that from now on there should be a presumption against road projects which expand capacity for motor vehicles, since the county cannot meet its climate targets and continue to expand capacity.

Active travel and public transport should be at the heart of NYC’s transport plans. This should include:

  • urban cycle networks
  • School Streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
  • 20mph
  • inter-town and -village Strategic Active Travel routes
  • greenways for leisure use

Planning and Development

List of junctions to widened for private motor vehicles as part of West Harrogate developments
List of junctions to widened for private motor vehicles as part of West Harrogate developments

No recent developments in Harrogate & Knaresborough provide properly for active travel, and all are based on the idea that most people will make most trips by car.

The plans for the West Harrogate Urban Expansion include a long list of junctions to be widened for private cars (see the image above). If all the space is given to motor vehicles, there will be none for cycling.

We get warm words about sustainable transport at new developments from the council, but nothing more.

We suggested that NYC should adopt Oxfordshire’s ‘decide and provide’ approach to transport at new developments. These are the ‘decide and provide’ principles from Oxfordshire’ LTP which are then applied to planning:

Oxfordshire LTCP at a glance
Oxfordshire LTCP at a glance

Capacity issues at new developments should be solved through modal shift to active travel and public transport, and capacity increases for motor vehicles are a last resort.

Carbon Quantification

John Rowe of HDCA highlighted two studies relevant to carbon quantification and reduction, one from Sustrans and the other by Oxford University’s Dr Christian Brand.

The NYC officers said that the LTP would include Quantifiable Carbon Reductions, but consultants WSP were developing the methodology for them.

It is widely accepted that there needs to be at least a 20% reduction in vehicle miles travelled by 2030 in order for the UK to meet its binding climate targets. The percentage reduction needed is greater in North Yorkshire because transport represents a greater proportion of emissions here than the national average.

Asked what percentage reduction in vehicle miles travelled would be needed according to their calculations, NYC officers said they had no idea and had not started working on it.

Cycling and Walking to School

We pointed out to NYC that it ought to be safe for local children to cycle or walk to school, but the council is not making adequate provision, particularly for cycling.

Blaming the Government, Active Travel England, and the LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance

Officers claimed that NYC would be building lots of rural cycle routes were it not for the fact that it was being prevented from doing so by the government, Active Travel England and the Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance in LTN 1/20.

That is a bold claim, unsupported by facts.

The new Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance was only published in July 2020, and Active Travel England came into existence even more recently.

Was NYC building rural cycle routes before 2020? No. Does it allocate any of its transport budget to building cycle routes? No.

Active Travel England is there to ensure that public money is spent wisely, building usable cycle facilities to decent standards. Their role is entirely positive. Likewise, the Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance is intended to make sure cycle facilities are usable, not quarter-hearted efforts which do nothing to enable modal shift to cycling.

There is a culture at NYC of excuse-making and blame-shifting, but in reality the responsibility for their woeful performance on active travel lies squarely with the council itself.

The main reasons the council systematically fails to deliver cycle infrastructure are:

  • lack of political will to see projects through
  • prioritsation of motor vehicles over active travel, from the council Executive down
  • negative attitude to cycling that permeates the entire local authority
  • lack of ability to manage projects to a timetable or deliver on-the-ground improvements at all

Network North and Local Integrated Transport Settlement

NYC officers told us that there will be transport funding through the new York & North Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA), under the badges:

  • Network North and
  • Local Integrated Transport Settlement

Network North is the name for the plan that replaces the northern leg of HS2, largely with road schemes.

It includes unsustainable and indefensible projects such as the capacity expansion planned for York, by dualling its Outer Ring Road.

Local Integrated Transport Settlements appear to be part of the Network North plan. It seems to be money for local highway maintenance and capacity expansions for motor vehicles at junctions.

Next Steps

The government still has not published LTP guidance, even though it was promised months ago. This handicaps local authorities in writing their LTPs.

There should be at least the broad outlines of an LTP by the time of the Mayoral elections in May 2024, and there will be a consultation on the draft at some point.

Local Transport Plan Meeting

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