Bad week for congestion in York

There has been a lot of congestion in York over the last week or so.  With many visitors coming for the Christmas markets and the “Winter Wonderland” the influx is potentially good news for the local economy.

But transport systems have capacity limits and these were reached at times with the Designer Centre car parks effectively full and Park and Ride services compromised.

Queues at the hospital car park have caused delays on bus services while even cyclists have found it difficult to find vacant City centre cycle racks.

Lenin addresses people waiting in a Waitrose queue?

Add in the arrival of General Election campaigners eager to be filmed with a backdrop of crowds of people and the new security barriers, which hinder movement in areas like St Helen’s Square, and things have turned decidedly awkward even for pedestrians.

So, what’s to be done?

We have criticised the Council before about its failure to utilise modern technology to ease travel woes. The real time parking space availability map was removed from their web site last year.

Many of the parking space availability signs which can be seen on arterial roads didn’t work for a long time.

On line site parking space availability web site abandoned by York Council

 A promised link through GPS to car navigation systems – which would help to direct vehicles to car parks where there were spaces – has not materialised.

As a result, vehicles still circle the City looking for spaces, which sometimes don’t exist, adding to congestion and pollution levels.

The York Council needs to raise its game.

On busy days, it should be tweeting updates on at least an hourly basis. Variable message signs on approach roads should be similarly updated. Local Radio has a part to play.

It would be relatively easy to add a CCTV link displaying the conditions at key locations to the Council web site. North Yorkshire already do this (albeit mainly to provide information on road conditions)

Modern problems need modern solutions.

Sadly at the moment there seems to be little sign of urgency at West Offices on the need to further improve traffic management in the City.

Proposals for disabled parking on Piccadilly published

City of York Council has published proposed changes which would introduce new disabled parking to Piccadilly.

​​​​​​The changes were approved by the council’s Executive earlier this year following extensive consultation over the impact of new counter-terrorism measures to protect people using the city centre.

Three traffic regulation orders have been published, proposing:

1) Converting the current pay and display section between Lloyds Bank and Brighthouse into:

Blue Badge parking between 11am and 6am (overnight)
Loading bay from 6am to 11am
2) Converting the existing taxi rank on the opposite side of the road to:

Blue badge parking 11am to 6pm
Taxi rank 6pm to 6am (overnight)
Loading bay 6am to 11am
A third order allows any vehicle displaying a valid disabled person’s badge to access Piccadilly beyond the Merchangate junction – a practicality so that blue badge holders are actually able to access the new parking spaces.

These should create room for up to seven vehicles displaying valid badges to park between 11am and 6am, and another two from 11am to 6pm on the taxi rank side of the road. 

The cycle parking on Piccadilly remains unchanged.

The proposals and the reasons behind them can be inspected at Reception, West Offices, Station Rise, York, during normal business hours. 

Objections or other representations specifying reasons for the objection or representation should be sent in writing to arrive no later than 27 December 2019.

Director of Economy and Place
Network Management, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA
Email: highway.regulation@york.gov.uk
If objections are received, the proposals will be considered at a decision session for the Executive Member for Transport in early 2020.

You can view Executive’s original decision here while the consultation results and proposed mitigation measures are contained within Annex B.

NB. The future of the Airspeed site when the Spark container village leaves next summer has yet to be decided. It has been suggested that it could also be used for disabled car parking.

ResPark plea for Albemarle Road area

Residents say they want a ResPark scheme on Albemarle Road according to a report being considered by the York Council next week. The move comes in the wake of a move to open up a Multi User Games Area (MUGA) for public use at the nearby Millthorpe School.

Part of the planned restrictions which also affect Philadelphia Terrace and Ovington Terrace

The proposal includes the extension of parking restrictions in the area. As we reported some weeks ago, there is already an issue with the narrow highway being obstructed as a result of parking. It is thought that ResPark would reduce the pressures on the street.

Officials say that they cannot complete the ResPark processes before the MUGA opens in the summer bringing the prospect of increased disruption for at least a limited period of time.

Bishopthorpe Road parking restrictions

The meeting will also hear about representations made regarding the installation of a pedestrian refuge in the Bishopthorpe Road area.

Planned parking Restrictions on Bishopthorpe Road

The original proposals attracted a large number of objections.

The plans include the creation of a “clearway” from the racecourse to Bishopthorpe Village.

“Pay by phone” parking to be extended to “on street” spaces in York

Pay by phone transactions at the York Councils, off street, car parks now account for 27% of the income received.

Drivers mostly use cards to pay for the rest.

Free RingGo Apps halve the time it takes to pay
Parking App

The York Council is now planning to extend Phone/App payments to “on street” spaces. We think this is a move in the right direction.

A review of parking arrangements will also lead to:

  • Streamline process of extension of existing residents parking zones including recruiting extra staff
  •  Pay monthly options for Respark with screen badges scrapped referred to as paperless virtual parking (like the new VED system)
  •  the procurement of a new parking system that will introduce online self-service for customers to become the principle channel for online application and payment for parking permits, visitor vouchers, same day online payment for parking tickets, and to automate the requirement for evidence. Cash will no longer be accepted in council offices for parking permits and all penalty charge notice (PCN)
  • Provide a cashless system in Marygate car park, given most people now use card. This will be subject to the integration of permits (e.g. Minster Badge and Season tickets) into the Pay on Exit technology. Piccadilly car park may also become “pay on exit”
Marygate car park

Huge amounts of money have been spent by the Council equipment and barriers at Marygate in recent years to provide a “pay on exit” option. The equipment – for several years – provided to be unreliable although has improved since the provision of ANPR monitoring.

The report is silent on emerging issues like the provision of on street charging facilities for the growing number of electric vehicles. Some policing of off-street charging points may also be required.

The Council report claims that the move to online service only will save substantial amounts of council staff time. The report says that 50% of visits to West Offices relate to parking issues.

Nevertheless, the absence of a proper business case (including investment and revenue assumptions) , together with achievable implementation milestones, may cause concerns for some taxpayers.  

£43,277.40 owed to York Council by theatre company

It has emerged that, when the operators of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre on Castle car park went into administration, they owed the York Council over £40,000 in rent payments. The information is contained in an response to a Freedom of Information request published today.

Reconstructed Rose Theatre

It seems unlikely that the Lunchbox group will have sufficient assets to repay this amount. In total the group had agreed to pay £113,076 to the Council to compensate for the loss of parking income. The Castle car park is the best used in the City.

The pop-up theatre attracted only 47,000 visitors in York this year, compared to 78,000 visitors last year

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Limited was placed into administration by the directors “to protect its business and assets” on October 9, 2019

Thor’s Bars Limited and Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, which are currently operating in the City, are “unaffected” by either the liquidation of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre or the administration of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions.

Winter bring its usual problems.

Residents urged to check local salt bins

As we wait for the inevitable icy weather residents are being urged to check that their local salt bins are full and free of litter.

Salt bin locations on “Local View” web site

Salt bin locations are plotted on the Street View services map Click here to access. Look under “street care” then “salt bins funded by CYC”. Councillors should have completed their pre-winter checks by now, but some may have been missed.

Another recurrent problem that will arise, as wetter weather becomes more frequent, is damage to grass verges. This is sometimes caused by poor parking but also is prevalent on street corners where large vehicles leave the carriageway.

Some wards make use of a delegated budget to provide off street “eco grid” style parking lay-bys.

Others use the option of hardening vulnerable areas like road junctions. Again matrix surfacing conserves green space and good drainage while protecting verges from damage.

Large scale building works have made verges in the Kingsway West area particularly vulnerable to vehicle run over damage this year

Issues in Albemarle Road area need tackling

Earlier in the week some parked cars on Albemarle Road were broken into. It seems that handbrakes were also released and vehicles allowed to crash into a wall.

Solid parking along the whole length of Almemarle Road. Yellow lines almost worn away.

Parking and traffic issues on the road are not new. Some at least arises out of he lack of parking controls (it is not yet a ResPark area). Today a delivery wagon had to reverse for nearly 1/4 mile to avoid on coming traffic. A dangerous manoeuvre. With some of the parking down to commuters, the introduction of ResPark – coupled to the provision of additional “passing places” – would seem to be in everyone’s interests.

The area is also blighted by graffiti
Back lanes in the area are covered in weed and leaf fall with some also overgrown by hedges
Another area where Council bus shelters are showing their age. This one on Queen Victoria Street has a loose electrical connection.

25% paying for parking by phone in York

A freedom of information request has revealed what proportion of drivers are using their phone to pay for parkign in York.

Of 1.2 million parking transactions made at off street parking locations during the last financial year, 234,832 drivers paid by phone.

The proportion for on street parking was much lower. The vast majority of those parking on street used one of the Councils 68 ticket machines.

Ring Go’s smartphone App has made parking easier in York

In total the York Council received £5,597,280 from parking charges last year.

Groves traffic ban plan – not entirely convincing

It seems that through traffic will be banned from The Groves area following a meeting next week.
High traffic levels in The Groves

A report recommends road closures on Lowther Street and Penleys Grove Street in the wake of complaints about safety and emission issues.

The report fails to provide any accident information either for the streets affected or the “alternative” routes (Lord Mayors Walk, Dodsworth Avenue etc.) which will see increases in traffic volumes.

 Nor are any “before” or target “after” air pollution figures provided

Without these it will be impossible to judge whether any change could be judged a success.

The area is already covered by a 20-mph speed limit (one of the oldest in York).

What can be said is that the “short cutting” traffic is intrusive, noisy and can cause vibrations particularly in streets with traffic calming road humps.  Residents living on the affected streets would certainly enjoy an improved quality of life.

The quid pro quo of course is that the road closures would also increase journey length and durations for many car trips from and to The Groves.

The traffic impact figures – assessed using the Councils sophisticated computer model – are expressed in very cautious terms. It is almost as if officials had discovered that the peak hour impact on congestion was potentially calamitous.

There is no origin and destination data provided. We don’t know how the changes will affect, for example, ambulance journey times to the nearby hospital. It is information that must be provided before an informed decision could be made.

It is also surprising – given the apparent concerns about pollution levels -that no consideration has been given to declaring the area a low emission zone. The new coalition Council has been very slow to reverse the Tory led campaign to have ResPark low emission vehicle discount charges abolished. The decision took effect at the beginning of the year.

The declaration of an ultra-low emission zone (basically allowing access only to electric vehicles) will of course have to wait until the Council solves the “on street” charging issue.

The plans involve the whole of The Groves area becoming a single ResPark zone. The zone will include the Monk Bar car park and the St Johns Campus.

NB. The same meeting will hear about plans to redesign the Monk Bar/Lord Mayors Walk junction. New traffic lights will be provided at the same time.

Dozens of changes planned to parking arrangements across York

A bumper list of traffic management changes is being considered at a meeting next week (click for details).

A summary list can be found by clicking here

The cost of advertising the planned changes comes to £25,500. This is three times thae actually cost of changing lines and signage

The changes include removing a motorcycle parking bay on Acomb Road near the shops. It will be replaced by a car parking bay.