TRAFFIC SYSTEM – OTLEY

See latest update below from the Highways Department regarding the position with the Otley traffic scheme and the proposed solution/next steps:

Background
The original scheme was part of a package of works developed as part of the Otley Parking Strategy. The aim of the strategy was to assess the current parking arrangements across Otley and make improvements where needed. An element of these proposals was to make Walkergate/ Charles Street one-way to retain resident, business and visitor parking whilst addressing a long standing complaint of congestion and conflict along these routes, which were created by difficulties experienced by drivers due to the road width and on street parking.

Some road safety concerns relating to drivers travelling along the footway directly outside the residents’ front doors on Walkergate still persisted at some locations by inconsiderate drivers being impatient. By the introduction of the one way flows the scheme removed the obstructions and therefore removed the need for such anti-social and dangerous driving behaviour, this improving safety for vulnerable road users.

Nelson Street was made one way to better manage the obstructive parking which occurs near the library and to facilitate more parking, particularly for the disabled in this locality. By making this route one way has enables a central island to be constructed at the wide junction mouth of Crossgate which has been well received by pedestrians (particularly the elderly) who in the past have found this difficult to cross.

Initial reviews of the traffic flows and discussions with colleagues with the UTMC section concluded that the initial one way option would not have a significant impact on the adjacent highway network but once implemented the conflict of movements at various locations resulted in congestion which was felt unacceptable. To resolve this issue the one way system along Walkergate and Charles street was reversed before Christmas to ease the congestion, which was successful but we were aware that this would add to the queue lengths on Pool Road. The signalised junctions along this route have been reviewed and altered over this period to ease the passage of vehicles from the Pool direction but we are unable to give the required green phase time to clear this approach route at a speed which is being requested by some objectors, without creating significant queues on all other routes around Otley.

Therefore having carefully reviewed our opinions and again reviewing the aim of the original scheme it is evident that whatever options we have tried to maintain the unobstructed passage of vehicles along Walkergate and Charles Street and maintain the on street parking needs has resulted in negative implications on other roads, which are very difficult to overcome.

Recent meeting with Otley Representatives
The attendees accepted that we had made the changes with the best of intention and after discussions appreciated the efforts to resolve the problems and understood why it was difficult to consider/ model/ foresee the problems which cumulatively create the problems experienced on site.
There was a good debate with the Otley stakeholders about the various issues and concluded by agreeing the only option available is for the one way on Walkergate and Charles Street to be returned to two way flow. We will however to ensure the expeditious movement of vehicles during the peak periods and throughout the working day need to implement additional waiting restrictions (No Waiting, Monday to Saturday, 8:00am to 6:00pm) along the narrow section of Walkergate. This will mean that there will be a net loss of parking in this location during the working day which is something which we had hoped to avoid, but it is evident that whilst this may not be supported by these residents it is needed to appease the wider Otley concerns and objections.

Next step
This work will be undertaken once the legal process has been followed and I will not be in a position to instigate the changes on site until this has been completed, which I expect will take approximately 6 weeks