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Opponents of Harrogate Crossings Scrape the Barrel with Objections

A parallel crossing
A parallel crossing

North Yorkshire Council (NYC) is consulting for a second time on crossings of Oatlands Drive and Wetherby Road. Oatlands Drive is to get a parallel crossing, and Wetherby Road a light-controlled crossing.

There were around 200 responses to the first consultation, and the good news is that the majority were in favour of the crossings.

This is an area of Harrogate with a lot of schools, and pupils need to be given safe crossings of busy roads, as do the rest of us.

You would have thought that no one would be against this necessary provision for people not in cars. If you did think that, you would be wrong.

Some Harrogate people, who presumably see themselves primarily as drivers, will go to any lengths to try to hoard their privileges.

NYC has produced Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) which detail the objections to the crossings from a minority of respondents to the first consultation.

The objections represent a scraping of the barrel.

Objections that Scrape the Barrel

According to NYC’s FAQ, one of the objections is that the proposed crossings will be unsightly. Really?

We’re talking about useful highways infrastructure on a highway, not knocking down the Taj Mahal or draining Lake Titicaca.

If traffic lights offend you, it might be best to avoid roads altogether. Roads are the natural habitat of traffic lights.

Traffic lights in Harrogate
Traffic lights in Harrogate

What about the parallel crossing of Oatlands Drive? It would involve white paint and belisha beacons.

Again, these are the sorts of things you see on roads. Roads are not art galleries, meant to appeal to your finer sensibilities and inspire wonder. They are not nail salons, where the primary objective is to zhuzh up your look.

Roads exist to enable people to get from A to B, and sometimes to C.

Don’t call the Aesthetic Police if a belisha beacon offends you – they won’t come out, because they are already occupied patrolling the Mercer Gallery. Probably.

Vehicles Cluttering Up Harrogate

Traffic jam
Traffic jam

There are vehicles all around Harrogate. When they are not being driven, they are left cluttering up the streets.

You can’t get a decent photo of the beautiful stone buildings at Prospect Square because of all the cars littering the place.

Why don’t the objectors start a campaign against all the vehicles in town? They are at least as unsightly as crossings.

But what is unsightly is subjective; or, more likely, unsightliness is an excuse to object to something that ‘I don’t want because there’s nothing in it for me’.

Unsightliness is any old excuse.

Any Old Excuse

There are more examples of ‘any old excuse’ in the NYC’s FAQ.

Apparently, according to the objectors, the council should spend the money on maintaining the existing network rather than putting in new crossings. Seriously? Is Harrogate’s road network so perfect that we should never make any changes again, just maintain it for the rest of time?

But in reality it’s just ‘any old excuse because there’s nothing in it for me’.

Another ‘any old excuse’ is ‘I’m worried about increased congestion and more air pollution’. Honestly?

If these objectors manage to defeat the proposed crossings, that will be the end of their air pollution campaign. We will never hear from them again on the subject. It is faux concern, weaponised to try to achieve an outcome.

I would like to reduce congestion and air pollution, and I know how it can be done: reallocate road space from motor vehicles to active travel; make walking and cycling safe, and the most convenient and enjoyable ways of getting around town. Make driving less convenient.

There’s a logic to that strategy, and everyone can see how it would work.

‘Give all the space and priority to drivers and sod everyone else’, on the other hand, is not a strategy that can work. In fact it is not a strategy at all, it’s a dead end.

Safety as well as Priority

It’s not just about priority, but also about safety, including the safety of children.

If you’re against children having safe crossings, there’s a problem.

Opponents of Harrogate Crossings Scrape the Barrel with Objections

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