The Extraordinary Year 2023
By Ben Lowe, Otley 2030 Trustee and Conveneer of Otley 2030 Transport Group
Travel in Otley is affected by policies and efforts at several levels – national government, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), Leeds City Council, Otley Town Council (OTC), and Otley Town Partnership. Otley 2030's transport group is doing it's best to represent our community and pressure these bodies from below.
We, along with OTC, were delighted to be involved with the successful WYCA Active Travel Hub application and much will be happening in 2023:
A. Cycling, scooters, and walking:
E-bikes - A number of these will be purchased using the WYCA Active Travel funding and will be available for local people to borrow. Charging hubs will also be installed in Otley
E cargo bikes - Depending on successful funding applications, there will be one available for small business doing deliveries; others for big shops and family trips
Children's Bicycles - These will also be purchased using the WYCA funding and made available to borrow through schools and at other locations
E-scooters - we might see these locally after autumn 2023, depending on national trials (see appendix i)
Cycle route around the centre
Cycle and walking routes through Otley, and out of Otley
Progress on the Wharfedale Greenway – specifically, Section 1, from Otley to Burley. Funding from WYCA is secured. Design work is underway.
During 2023 there will also be several cycling and walking events:
Family cycling day
Cycling day for all
Cycling training days
There are a variety of proposals for our bus network in 2023. Not all of these are guaranteed to happen, but it is up to us to keep up the pressure on the bus companies and local authorities. Some of these plans include:
Electric buses on more Leeds routes, including to and from Otley
First Demand-responsive buses (12 seat electric buses that can be demanded by App). We can expected to see some of these in Otley by the end of the year, including the Weston Estate
Possibly an end to diesel buses in Otley, subject to further pressure from Otley 2030 and a decision by WYCA/Leeds (see appendix ii)
Enterprise Car Club - starting and being promoted through 2023. Expected to start January or February 2023 (to be confirmed soon - watch out for launch event)
20 mph limits on most Otley roads
All the walking and cycling developments should reduce cars in time
The Otley 2030 Transport Strategy
We seek to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution and to increase possibilities for improving personal health in Otley. To this end we seek to:
Reduce car use and, if possible, car ownership
Increase active travel through every means possible
In certain respects, these are two sides of the same coin.
To achieve these ends
(i) We seek to increase car-sharing through the Enterprise Car Club. This recognises the psychological appeals of a car, but offers a sharing approach to car use and ownership
(ii) We seek to encourage people to use cycles, e-bikes or e-cargo bikes for shopping, carrying children, as an alternative to using a car
(iii) We seek to maximise opportunities to reduce the appeal of car ownership for young people (under 35s) before it starts
(iv) We seek to bring in all options for active travel and to make these available to new users through rental or free trial options
(v) We seek to arrange training in active travel for all ages to maximise use
(vi) We seek to change the infrastructure – for example through cycle and walking routes – to encourage more active travel
(i) Background to e-scooters
An extensive Trial in 30 towns/cities was due to conclude end-November 2022, using the companies Voi, Lime, Dott , Tier. It is now continuing into 2023. Provisionally, other cities are likely to be able to bid for e-scooters in late 2023
Apps; leave anywhere after use; need driving license; treat like e-bikes with regard to rental; helmets encouraged but not compulsory; use cycle paths or main roads (A, B, or C roads). Cycle trails used by e-scooters to be re-designated cycle paths.
Not to be used on footpaths, unless combined cycling and footpaths.
The trial is now continuing, but only in those 30 towns/cities
The rest? New regulations due from Government in late autumn 2023 for whole country. This date may, however, be pushed back further.
(ii) Advance Notice for end-2024 : this is the projected date for West Yorkshire Combined Transport, following the Greater Manchester model, with one bus company and integrated rail and bus system, payment etc.