York Council taxpayers face £600,000 bill for “emergency” transport changes

It looks like the government’s announcement in November of a £600,000 grant for cycling and walking in York has strings attached. A “matching” amount is required from local taxpayers.

The York Council had bid for a share of what was termed an “Emergency Active Travel Fund”.

Controversial road closure

It was originally designed to promote social distancing and reduce pressure on public transport. Early examples if the kind of scheme supported by the York Council included the controversial Bishopthorpe Road one way system (since abandoned) and The Groves Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme. Several foot streets were also extended.

Now the government (rightly) says greater weight should be given to consultation, with Local Authorities required to publish a consultation plan for their programmes by 11th December 2020. Details of York’s Active Travel Fund Tranche 2 application and the Consultation Plan are available as downloads at: https://www.york.gov.uk/lets-york/active-travel-bid/1

The costs of the individual schemes have now been revealed.

The most expensive is the proposal to construct a cycle path from Wheldrake village to Heslington.

This comes in at an eye watering £550,000.

There has still not been any attempt made to estimate the likely use of such a path although the Councils origin and destination surveys make a cost/benefit analysis relatively easy to produce.

Existing infrastructure is neglected

Ironically, this project does not even appear in the list of cycling schemes that the Council has built up over the years. This is reproduced in a report being considered later this week. (click).

At least that list attempts to assess what impact the investment would have on transport choices. The top-rated improvement locations are

  1. University Road / Field Lane
  2. University of York – Heslington East Campus links
  3. High Petergate, Deangate, Aldwark, Hungate, Navigation Rd, Walmgate (or Low Petergate, Colliergate, Fossgate, Walmgate)
  4. St Leonards Place / Museum Street / Lendal Bridge / Station Road
  5. Micklegate / Bridge Street / Nessgate / Coppergate / Pavement / Stonebow / Peasholme Green
  6. Improvements to Station Road / Station Avenue gyratory
  7. Route through former British Sugar site
  8. Castle Gateway Foss Bridge
  9. York Central – link from Chancery Rise
  10. Bar Lane / Toft Green / Tanner Row
Footpaths have been blocked

The Council is being urged to develop a new “walking and cycling strategy”. Certainly, those who walk will feel somewhat neglected by current York Council policies. Even more so when they see the lack of progress being made on determining 19 outstanding Public Right of Way applications. Some have been outstanding for over 20 years.

The main issue remains a lack of investment in maintaining the existing transport network.

The endless pressure to borrow more money simply sucks resources from the Councils maintenance budget. The results are deteriorating cycle and footpath surfaces coupled with potholed highway margins.

 This neglect poses an increasing hazard for pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users.

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