Improvements carried out on Harrogate's least favourite junction

Dennis McFarlane.(1511116AM4)

Dennis McFarlane.(1511116AM4)

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The county council has performed a U-turn over making improvements to Station Parade crossing after a report published in February claimed no changes were necessary.

Signalling changes were carried out over Thursday night at the crossing to make it clearer to pedestrians when they are able to cross the junctions.

Concerns had been raised over the safety of the crossing after an 83-year-old man was struck by a car nearby in a fatal accident last year.

However, a report into the accident concluded it was not the fault of the ‘scramble crossing’ and that no works or improvements were necessary.

Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for Highways, stressed the changes were being introduced to reduce pedestrian confusion, not as a result of the junction being unsafe.

He said: “The changes are not being made for safety reasons, rather they are to do with making the crossing a little easier for pedestrians to use.

“We have noticed that pedestrians are confused about the sequence of the lights and where to look for the green light to show its safe to cross.

“It’s nothing to do with safety, it’s more to give pedestrians greater confidence in the use of the crossing and stopping them crossing when they shouldn’t.

“The changes we are making this week are quite small but should have a marked and positive effect on users.”

The works have created far-side, rather than near-side, signals and pedestrians will now receive a green crossing signal at Cheltenham Parade at all times when traffic is stopped.

The £100k crossing was completed at the beginning of last year in a bid to improve pedestrians’ safety at the junction of Lower Station Parade, Station Parade and Cheltenham Parade.

However, nearby business owners soon dubbed the crossing an “utter nightmare”, arguing the works had created safety concerns and an increase in traffic.

Dennis MacFarlane, managing director at Up & Running on Station Parade said that the changes still didn’t address the urgent safety concerns.

He said: “The crossing only allows four seconds of audible warning to cross and then pedestrians find that the lights unexpectedly change.

“Drivers also know they don’t have long to make it through so sprint for the line as the pedestrians sprint for cover.

“People avoid these lights like the plague and nothing in the proposal will improve this.

“Surely safety should be the whole point of the works. Pedestrians’ safety is paramount but it’s not being treated this way.”

Coun Mackenzie stressed that, since its implementation, the crossing has improved safety at the junction.

“We’ve now got four sets of crossings there when we previously had none on Lower Station Parade; people just dashed across,” Coun Mackenzie explained.

“The crossings are very safe and I’m not aware of there being any accidents at all there.

“The fatal accident, which sadly took place in October last year, happened to a pedestrian who was not using the crossing. It was 10 metres south of there.

“The crossing caters for very large numbers of pedestrians and is designed to keep them safe, whilst at the same time providing efficient control of traffic on this busy north to south main road through the town centre”.