As shown on our analysis of the current transport system in Whitby, all forms of transport are problematic and not meeting the needs of the residents nor tourists, and certainly do not meet the climate aspirations of North Yorkshire Council.
Our plan, in short, aims to
- provide a public transport network that covers all areas of our district, allowing residents to travel without a car both locally and further afield.
- provide an active travel network, allowing residents (and tourists) to get about safely and more sustainably, reducing any climate impact.
- reduce the impact of the motor vehicle on Whitby and District.
This is defined by a 9-point plan, below.
- Provision of small eco-buses serving Whitby and District
- Provision of improved long-distance public transport connectivity
- Provision of a cycle path network, and pedestrian corridors
- Adoption of Default 20mph on urban roads
- Develop a better vehicle parking strategy with more out of town options
- Road System Efficiency / Safety Improvements
- Bicycle Hire / Storage Facilities
- Replacement Swing Bridge
- Sea Travel
What do you think of these outline proposals? Should we be looking at other areas? Please let us know, via the Contact Us form.
1. Provision of small eco-buses serving Whitby and District
There are several parts of Whitby that are more than 5 minutes walk from the nearest bus service (e.g Castle Park, West Cliff, Green Lane, Broomfields Farm development, etc). With an aging population it is essential that residents can access public transport, and not need to move house just to be close to a bus. Having a frequent eco-bus service using smaller vehicles on a route that covers all of the town would provide for this. The buses could be electric or hydrogen. the route(s) should take in all essential stop offs for residents (GPs, hospital, schools, supermarkets, leisure centre, etc). Having digital information at principal stops would provide the surety for reliable public transport that residents require.
In terms of the villages of the district, there are currently the bus 95 service from Whitby to Ruswarp, Sleights, Grosmont, Egton and Lealholm, the X4 along the coast to the north, and the 93 calling in Robin Hoods Bay, Hawsker, Whitby, and on to Middlesbrough. Goathland has the “under threat” 840 Coastliner. Many villages have no options. Stainsacre residents have to walk to the main road for any connection (even though it is doable to divert the 93 through the village). Having a reliable public transport capability is the challenge for these villages, and we await the results of the on-demand trial around Ripon.
Consideration should be made to having a price for residents, and a price for visitors.
Most likely the best arrangement of bus route network would be
- a route along the coast Scarborough-Whitby-Middlesbrough (the X93/X94),
- up the coast via Lythe, Staithes etc (X4), across to Pickering/Malton (840),
- up the Esk Valley (something like the 96 but add on Ruswarp),
- and then a circular Whitby bus that gets close to all residential areas and all areas where people need to visit (use the 95 as basis, but cut off the Ruswarp-Sleights part, and add on Castle Park, West Cliff, Broomfield etc).
2. Provision of improved longer distance public transport connectivity
Residents of Whitby and District are currently dependent on the car for reliable faster transport further afield. Trains only run to Teesside, and are sparse, slow and unreliable (Northern Trains, just look at your performance of delivering the contracted trains). Taking the bus to Scarborough for onward train isn’t much better with an (uncomfortable) hour journey needed then be dependent on coordinated bus and train timetables. Longer distance bus travel is no better, with the Coastliner service to Malton/York/Leeds, with this service taking 2.5 hours to York (no improvement in journey times in the last 70 years), and now being under threat of cancellation.
Whitby and District firstly requires a defined strategy of what transport corridor will be developed for longer distance travel. The logical options seem to be
- Develop Scarborough as the train hub for this area, and direct southerly journeys from Whitby via there. To achieve that a fast (non-stop) bus to Scarborough (30mins) would be required, timetable-coordinated with departing train services.
- Develop the North York Moors railway line to Pickering, and reinstate the connection to Malton for onward connection on the existing line to York.
- Upgrade the existing Teesside rail route with a faster service, better connectivity, and more frequent services.
- Develop the existing Teesside rail route to connect across to Northallerton for York connectivity.
- Provide faster coach services across the North Yorks Moors to Pickering, Malton (optional coordinated rail connection), and York. This service would need to provide a faster option than currently (1.5 hours to Malton!), and also be more frequent (by, for example, having occasional buses as faster but not stopping in as many locations, or connecting on-demand mini bus from villages).
3. Provision of a Cycle Path network and pedestrian corridors
In our analysis of the current active travel situation in the Whitby district, we concluded that use of the bicycle is not currently viable due to the virtual absence of cycle infrastructure. Additionally, whilst all urban roads are constructed with footpaths, to encourage more walking having pedestrian green corridors would be desirable. The first step towards this is to have a Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) prepared to cover the town and routes out into the district. North Yorkshire Council (NYC) applied for funding for this in October 2022 subsequent to our campaigning.
Once this plan is available, NYC will need to start application for funding of implementation of the cycle network paths contained. We have been campaigning for a cycle path network since June, with a proposed cycle path network described in our proposal.
Also once this LCWIP document is available, all new housing developments should have to provide connectivity to the cycle network (whether the network is in place at that point, or where the network will reach when it is provided).
Status : North Yorkshire Council have the creation of an LCWIP for Whitby and District in their work programme for 2023-2024.
4. Adoption of Default 20mph on urban roads
Towns and villages should be pedestrian-oriented, safe environments. Urban design should prioritise pedestrians first and foremost, and adopting a Default 20mph urban speed limit policy would make a massive difference to road safety, for pedestrians navigating their town/village, as well as making cycling a more viable form of transport. To achieve the NYC target of 900% increase in cycling by 2030 this is a prerequisite allowing for cycling through residential areas and town centre. This is also a necessary step towards increased pedestrianisation of town (and village) centres.
Status : We campaigned on this since October 2022, and in December 2022 Whitby Town Council voted in favour of it, requesting it from NYC. Waiting on NYC to implement it. Lythe and Mickleby Group Parish Councils have also voted in favour, and are also waiting on NYC to implement it.
5. Develop a better vehicle parking strategy
Having significant vehicle parking in town centre results in a clogged up road system for much of the day during the main tourist months (inbound traffic during the morning, and outbound traffic in afternoons). Whilst we can reduce the speed limit in town centre to 20mph, this does not remove the pollution resultant from having a large number of vehicles in a small space.
- Park-and-Ride : The current (West) Park-and-Ride is often full by mid-morning. Car’s coming along the A171 from Scarborough have to come along Helredale Rd / Mayfield Rd to get to the (West) Park-and-Ride or, more likely, go directly into Whitby town centre. This leads to excessive traffic both in town centre, as well as along Helredale Rd and Mayfield Rd for significant months of the year. Capacity modelling needs to assess the best options of expanding the (West) Park-and-Ride, and adding an (East) Park-and-Ride, most likely on Abbey Plain (maybe with new connecting road from near Whitby Business Park, which would also function to offload Green Lane which is at capacity already and not designed to be anything more than a residential road). (West) Park-and-Ride seemingly doesn’t gather utilisation statistics so generation of a case for expansion is limited. Increased capacity out of town would also mean that we could allow overnight parking on the Park-and-Ride facility(ies), effectively making them available to people staying in town.
- Green Space Parking : Parking on green space such as Tuckers Field should be prohibited. Our green space is sufficiently limited that we cannot continue to allow this.
- Parking Information : Having information signs on the A171 to the west and east of town showing locations of parking spaces would reduce touring around.
- Campervans : A strategy needs to be adopted for overnight campervan parking. This should be prohibited except in strictly permitted areas, with encouragement for schools to open up their grounds to campervan usage outside school term times to provide additional funding.
- Coaches : Coach parking would be better if provided in a single place rather than some on West Cliff and some on Whitby Marina. Additionally, coach parking in lay-bys on Whitby new bridge should be prohibited.
- Residents Parking : We also need to add in to this the abuse of the “residents parking scheme” which is utilised by some holiday lets for their customers. Many holiday lets do not pay any council tax, and neither are the customers “residents”, yet they are making use of this scheme. This is expected to be consulted on by NYC in 2023.
6. Road Efficiency / Safety Improvements
As we described in our analysis of the problem areas of the road system, there are multiple junctions that are in need of redesign to operate better for vehicles, and to provide improved road safety for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Most of these are along the widely used Mayfield Road – New Bridge – Helredale Road corridor.
Whilst the Default 20mph adoption will encourage improved safety, pedestrians (and people on bikes) should have priority and to get to that point we need a full assessment of road crossings on all 30mph roads to provide freer movement of people. The LCWIP developed for the cycle path network will provide crucial information regarding walking routes through the town, and focus should be on providing crossings to align with these routes once the LCWIP is available.
It is recommended that this is not started until after the LCWIP is complete so we can build on the transport corridor analysis in that document, and also take into account the locations of proposed cycle paths so as to perform any upgrades most efficiently.
7. Bicycle Hire / Storage Facilities
Provision of (e-)bike hire facilities at multiple places around the Whitby and District area would encourage a gradual shift from car usage to active travel. This would only be a realisable goal once a cycle path network was established. The type of bikes available for hire would need to cater for both commuting usage, and leisure usage. For shopping trips, availability of cargo (e-)bikes would make visits to supermarket viable for many people, removing car trips.
For adoption of bicycles as a form of transport, the availability of safe bike storage at town centre location(s) and supermarket / school / hospital is also needed. Proximity to the bus / rail station is a logical initial location, but also West Cliff and Whitby Abbey for people arriving from along the coast in both directions.
Availability of recycled bikes for residents who would otherwise not have access to them is something that we would like to see addressed. This could either be via a North Yorkshire wide scheme, or a Yorkshire coast initiative.
This should only be developed once we have the start of a cycle path network.
8. Replacement Swing Bridge
Whitby has had a town centre crossing since the 1300s with the current (electric) swing bridge being introduced in the early 1900s, and its usage offloaded somewhat in 1980 by the new (high level) bridge. It is operational 2 hours either side of high tide, prohibits vehicles above 7.5t, and is not wide enough for 2 vehicles passing. The mass influx of tourists in the 21st century has often resulted in it being closed to vehicles for busy periods for pedestrian safety reasons. Additionally it often breaks down. As a result of the need to close it to vehicles, SBC decided, as part of Whitby Town Deal, that they would pedestrianise it for several hours of the day and provide road turning circles on east and west side, with all of the knock-on impact of this.
Consideration should be given to a better solution to Whitby’s crossing issues, by provision of a new wider bridge that would be less prone to mechanical failure, though not with a view to 2-way traffic, simply to be able to cope better with pedestrian traffic, and perhaps avoid the traffic closures.
9. Sea Travel
In other coastal areas, ferries are an attractive option for transport between coastal towns (e.g Torbay) for tourism. This is not highly utilised currently (1 company at time of writing), but more could be made of this form of tourist travel method and it would reduce car usage. Journey times to Scarborough are > 1 hour for a “wildlife” tour, so if purely as a ferry then could be comparable with current bus timetables.