Email to NYC Highways : Whitby Road System Problems

Whitby Aerial View

The road system around Whitby parish is often choked with traffic, with various problem points. Using data obtained from residents, as well as the Vision for Whitby consultation, we sent the following email to Area 3 Highways on 7th September 2023.

To: Area 3 Highways, Richard Marr (NYC Highways Area 3 Manager),


During the month of May, Whitby Community Network engaged residents of the Whitby parish with our “Vision for Whitby” consultation to gather information about what residents thought of places in their town. Amongst the many things highlighted this revealed many perceived shortcomings in the road system. We would like to take this opportunity to inform you of the findings, and ask for dialogue in resolving many of these issues. It is highly likely that many of these will be known to you, so hopefully some will have solutions at hand.

  • Mayfield Road – the problems with this road are many, and traffic backs up along its length for many months of the year.
    • It has a 30mph limit that is frequently ignored, often by drivers of goods vehicles; as evidenced by the vehicle-activated sign (VAS) that will be triggered every 5 minutes.
    • The 4-lane-ends roundabout is very problematic for pedestrians crossing, with fast moving traffic coming in to Whitby, and having to  find a gap in the traffic, despite the highway code giving priority to pedestrians. Traffic calming measures, and priority for pedestrians would be appropriate. Whatever solution would need to integrate with the outcome of the forthcoming Local Cycling Walking Infra Plan.
    • It has no pedestrian crossing between 4-lane ends and the Prospect Hill junction … half a mile (and the crossing at Prospect Hill junction is so slow to change that it disadvantages pedestrians).
    • The Prospect Hill junction where we have the sole pedestrian crossing on the whole road. Current Highway Code prioritisation of users has pedestrians at the top, and this is the opposite of what the current junction provides for. It takes more than 3 minutes for the (pedestrian) lights to change to let people get across!!! The bottleneck in vehicle traffic on Mayfield Road is the traffic light set up at the junction with Prospect Hill and the new bridge (queuing down Mayfield Road in the morning, and queuing up Down Dinner Hill in the afternoons). This junction needs redesigning firstly to prioritise pedestrians, and secondly to be efficient for vehicles. So think of, you know, a roundabout, with pedestrians crossings.
    • The junction with St Andrews Road and Pembroke Way is notoriously difficult to get out of at busy times; this needs redesigning (and when vehicles park on Mayfield Road before the Mayfield Place turn off it makes visibility of oncoming traffic from 4-land ends impossible).
    • The old farm track will likely be part of the Local Cycling Walking Infra Plan when available, so would need integrating into any redesign.
    • Outside Caedmon College buses park and offload/load pupils, blocking the traffic; this should be redesigned (to have the bus stop indented and restricted to bus usage only, alternatively provide a better school entry point that buses can enter in to and turn) in conjunction with access to the proposed cycle connection.
  • Spital Bridge – The junction of the A171 (Whitby New Bridge) and Spital Bridge / Larpool Lane needs redesigning. It was supposed to have a redesign as part of the Town Deal “Bridge Pedestrianisation” after being flagged by many people; a roundabout would make sense.
    • It is notoriously difficult to get out of side roads
    • It provides inefficient crossing facilities to ease the passage of pedestrians towards town centre.
    • Will need to integrate with the output of the Local Cycling Walking Infra Plan when available.
  • Helredale Road – Traffic which is often very heavy, including lorries to/from the potash mine amongst other places, travelling past the entrances to 2 schools, often at speed.
    • Very hard to get out of side roads … Abbots Road, St Peters Road, Eskdale Road, etc.
    • Dangerous traffic for the schools. East Whitby Primary has just provided the most significant vote of no confidence in the road system by issuing a letter to all parents saying that they will not let children leave the school unaccompanied to walk alongside that road!! (see below). If this is not an adequate message to enact change we really do not know what is.
    • Will need to integrate with the output of the Local Cycling Walking Infra Plan when available.
  • Love Lane – Another problem area.
    • The junction of Love Lane / White Bridge Road and Sandsend Road often has accidents or near misses with traffic coming from Sandsend on a 60mph road not slowing adequately. Current Highway Code prioritisation of users has pedestrians at the top, and this is the opposite of what the current design provides for. This needs redesigning, probably with traffic lights and associated pedestrian crossings.
    • Will need to integrate with the output of the Local Cycling Walking Infra Plan when available.
    • It should be considered to reduce the speed limit on Sandsend Road, it has a couple of corners where it is common to encounter vehicles on the wrong side of the road. Dropping the limit to say 40mph would be beneficial for safety.
  • Larpool Lane/Glen Esk Road – Narrow road, with “danger bank” often with vehicles travelling way too fast for the conditions. Should be 20mph, with suitable measures to minimise the risk to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Ruswarp – Traffic coming down Ruswarp bank is often not prepared for the 20mph zone, and measures should be implemented to reinforce this zone.

We realise that this is quite a significant list, and enacting change will take time, but we would appreciate hearing your thoughts on each of the problem areas, and what can be done. Likewise, if solutions are already programmed in, we would welcome information when residents can expect to see some improvement. We would like to point out that Whitby Town Council voted for default 20mph for the Whitby Parish back in December, and we are also very keen to see where this can be integrated to alleviate some of the problems listed here (as well as calming traffic in other parts of town).

Whitby Community Network is a residents run organisation campaigning on issues faced by residents of Whitby and District. As such, we are very keen to see information from residents as well as the results of this consultation utilised in moving the Whitby parish forward, by providing residents with what is needed for this community to be sustainable and a place where people want to live, work and bring up families, not solely a retirement and tourist destination with traffic clogging its streets.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Whitby Community Network

Highways responded to this email on 27th September 2023, as follows

With reference to your list of queries, I will attempt to answer them as best I can, but I need to stress right from the outset that the funding for the majority of alterations that you are seeking usually come from one of three sources:

  • Developer funding improvements – When we can show that alterations are needed because of a develop led scheme such as a new housing estate, then we can ask the developer to fund certain works. However, we need to be able to prove that the alterations are needed because of the new work being proposed.
  • Government Grants or invitations to bid – From time to time the Government offer additional funding for which we are either given a pro-rata slice, or we have to bid for the money. Usually there are many constraints around the schemes that are eligible and sometimes it is not always possible to match a much wanted scheme with the particular constraints put on some of the bidding processes.
  • Collision Investigation – Our Collision Investigation Team, based at County Hall have a budget to spend at high risk sites where they can make alterations which hopefully can reduce the number or severity of future injuries. All the police recorded injury collisions are recorded and sites with a high history of personal injuries will be looked at to see if any improvements can be applied to that location. Injuries are ranked as either Slight, Serious or Fatal. Obviously the team will concentrate on locations with high numbers of and high severities of injuries, rather than sites with only a few “Slight” injuries.  This way it is hoped that what little funding we have is spent at the locations where it can have the most benefit.

Without the funding from sources like the ones listed above, there simply is not the money to do the alterations residents or communities ask for.

Mayfield Road:

As you say, this is currently covered by a 30mph speed restriction and this is appropriate given the layout and location of the road. Anyone exceeding this speed limit is, I am sure, fully aware that they are breaking the law. Enforcement of this limit rests with the Police, who are the enforcement authority.

The lack of pedestrian facilities at 4-Lane Ends roundabout was assessed recently and no further enhancements are planned here. There have been no recent recorded pedestrian injuries here, demand is low, plus any formal crossing facilities would be away from any desire lines and perhaps not fully utilised.

The lack of a formal crossing facility on a half mile stretch of A road is not uncommon. There is no obvious locality with high demand.

Mayfield Junction, and the traffic signals in particular have to balance the needs of both pedestrians and vehicles. The wait time for pedestrians has been mentioned to us before and passed to our Signals Engineers. They do not recognise your comment of more than three minutes, but do acknowledge that as with any crossing facility, pedestrians need to wait their turn for a safe crossing opportunity.  The junction has only relatively recently been installed and has been designed using the most current equipment to best manage the competing demands being asked of it.

Replacing the signals at Mayfield Road with a roundabout with signalised pedestrian facilities would need land that is not under our control and would cost millions. Plus it would be less efficient and lead to longer traffic delays.

People trying to access the A171 from at the junction with St Andrews Road and Pembroke Way will always experience delays in doing so. There are no plans to signalise this junction.

We have looked at the bus stop outside Cademon College but any redesign would need land from the school. The recent proposal to combine the schools in Whitby may give us an opportunity to improve the situation here, but the cost/benefit discussions would have to be had first with the Education Authority.

Spittal Bridge junction is planned to be converted into a signalised junction as part of the Swingbridge Public Realm scheme. Work is not fully programmed yet, but it is hoped to start very early in the next calendar year.

Helredale Road – Again this is another A road so heavy traffic is to be expected. Any instances of speeding should be reported to the Police. The heavy mine traffic is restricted and is also banned from using the B1416 through Ruswarp, so it has no alternative other than to use the A171.  As intimated above, A roads form vital arteries around the country and so will take a large proportion of the traffic.

With reference to the school on Helredale Road, it currently benefits from a signalised crossing facility, pedestrian railings, a bus layby and school Keep Clear markings.  I am struggling to know what more we can do here. I note the letter sent out from the school, but that was their decision and no discussions was held with my team or our Traffic Engineering Team. From what little I know, the school caters for children from 3 to 11 and I can only assume that the school’s idea of parental responsibility is not matching those of some parents.  According to my records there have only been two injury collisions as shown below during 2017 – 2021.  The details of these collisions are as follows;

  • 06/02/2017 – 18:00 – Location A171 Stainsacre Lane, Whitby opposite East Whitby Primary School. Vehicle 2 – Travelling north on A171 towards Whitby stops on nearside to allow passenger to alight. Vehicle 1 travelling in the same direction commences to overtake vehicle 2. Pedestrian 1 runs from front of vehicle 2 into the path of vehicle 1 and sustains serious injuries.
  • 23/04/2017 – 10:40 – Location A171 Stainsacre Lane, Whitby approximately 50 metres north of junction with Eskdale Road. Vehicle 1 travelling at sped on A171 towards Whitby being pursued by marked police vehicle. Vehicle 1 overtakes several slow moving vehicles but loses control and collides with vehicle 2. Driver of vehicle 1 then decamps but is later arrested. 1 driver suffers slight injuries.

There are no plans to undertake any alterations at this location.

Love Lane roundabout has only one “slight” injury recorded during the period 2017 – 2021: Unfortunately the details of this incident have not been loaded onto the system yet.

Mini roundabouts rely on drivers behaving in an appropriate manner and do, in the main work very efficiently. There are no plans to change this junction at the present time.

The speed limits along Sandsend Road are appropriate given the guidance laid out in the Government’s guidance document “Setting Local Speed Limits” which is available to view on-line.  We have no plans to alter the speed limits here.

Larpool Lane – As with every road, drivers have a responsibility to drive to the conditions. Government guidance says (in simple terms) that speed limits should not be used just because of a hazard, such as a sharp bend. The Highway Authority should place warning signs for the bend and drivers can then chose the most appropriate speed.  The Police would not support the placing of a 20mph limit here as it would only be complied with by almost continuous enforcement. 

Ruswarp 20 – I will ask one of my Engineers to check the advance signing for the 20 mph limit, but I believe it is signed appropriately already. If drivers choose to disobey the speed limit then we are moving into the Police’s area of responsibility.

I hope I have gone part way to explaining our current position on the matters you have listed but I am sure you will have some further queries as a result of this.  Please do not hesitate to get back in touch to discuss them further, or if you would like a face-to-face meeting in the Whitby Office, please let me know.

Area 3 Highways

Share this

2 thoughts on “Email to NYC Highways : Whitby Road System Problems

  1. On Mayfield Road traffic trying to exit Mayfield Place cannot see traffic along Mayfield road due to a low exit and parked cars.

Comments are closed.