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.

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.

Automatic speed regulators in use from 2022?

A new EU regulation says that all new cars must have integrated breathalysers and speed-limiters by 2022. Existing models sold after 2024 must also have this updated safety technology. The British Government has confirmed the standards will apply in the United Kingdom, despite Brexit.

The plan may reopen the debate in York about what is the most appropriate default speed limit. The general 20 mph limit, introduced by Labour 6 years ago, is widely ignored with the Police – rightly – choosing currently to deploy their limited resources to known accident risk locations.

The plan includes several new mandatory safety features including ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ (ISA) software, which stops drivers from going above speed limits, slowing speeding vehicles, and another feature that detects when you’re falling asleep, drifting over lanes, or losing concentration.

The speed-limiter software uses GPS data and speed limits from local traffic cameras, displaying the limits on your car’s dashboard.

If you go above the limit, the system reduces your car’s speed and, although you can override the system by pressing harder on the accelerator, if you continue to speed your car will sound an alert, like a seatbelt alarm.

Many of these features are already available on high specification cars in the UK.

In-car breathalysers are common in Australia and the United States, where they’re known more often as ‘alcohol interlock devices’, or ‘alcolocks’. Fitted onto the dashboard, the breathalyser needs a clean breath sample before the car’s engine will start. If the driver doesn’t pass the test, they must wait a certain amount of time before they can re-test. In-built chips can let the police know when a driver fails a test or if someone has tampered with the machine

Further details can be found via this link

Changes to bus services from 1st December

Includes further refinement of number 12 service

Changes affect following services. Click for detailed timetable

Chapelfields – Wigginton service 1

Clifton Moor – York Uni service 6

Bishopthorpe – Heworth service 11

Foxwood – Woodthorpe – Monks Cross service 12

Now see on line highways condition survey results

The York Council has added details of the results of its surveys of local carriageway and footpath condition to an on line map.

You can see the rating for every street in York. Red means very poor.

Click here to access.

Then click “street care” from the drop down list

Then tick the appropriate boxes e.g “Highways annual condition survey 2019 – Highways” & “Highways annual condition survey 2019 – Footpaths”

You can focus down to street level.

NB. Part of Gale Lane is being resurfaced next week.

Extract from street View on line map

Cycle link under northern by pass open UPDATED

We’ve cycled the whole length of the cycle track now. Certainly a lot safer than using the B1224. Around 3 miles in length.

It narrows on the section near Harewood Whin where it is an unmodified footpath. There is room to pass.

Only one secured gate on the route (near the A1237 junction). Rest are easy to navigate.

Ironically the roughest surface is on Milestone Avenue in Rufforth. This forms the public highway access to the cycle path. Small cafe in Rufforth provides refreshments.

Pleasant ride in summer although the nearby clay pigeon shooting range is at little noisy!

Milestone Avenue in Rufforth. Carriageway needs resurfacing

The promised new cycle link from York (Knapton) to Rufforth has been completed. The last section involved the modification of an underpass crossing the A1237 to allow for safe access for pedestrians and cyclists.

Previously the tunnel had been used mainly by cattle.

Signage has yet to be installed on the route although it is already being used extensively by pedestrians.

Entrance to cycle path from Knapton
Link from Knapton
A1237 underpass
Link to Ruforth
Location map. Entrance from Knapton (New House Road)

York compares well on vehicle charging point availability

An interactive map published this weekend by the government indicates that York is in the top 20% of areas providing vehicle charging points.

Map showing charging point availability

It is similarly placed in a table showing rapid charger availability.

The figures are slightly less good for the number of charges per 1000 head of population

No information has been published on charger reliability or the average waiting times that motorists face when they need to charge their vehicles.

Click here to access the map

Better Parliament Street cycle parking info from Council

…..but two months too late and what happened to consultation?

The following information has been provided by the Council in response to complaints about lack of consultation about the removal of cycle parking from Parliament Street. It would have been better if the information had been published a couple of months ago rather than the day after the racks disappeared!!

“The old individual cycle racks are being removed this week and will be replaced with ones on rails. Any bikes which have been left locked to a rack will be removed to the Council’s secure store.

What is happening? – The old individual cycle racks are being replaced with ones on rails where the racks are spaced wider apart that the current ones (1200mm as opposed to 800mm).  As construction of the cabins for the Christmas Market will start later this week (02/12/19) the new racks will be temporarily relocated to the following locations:

  • Davygate – outside Debenhams
  • Davygate – outside the former French Connection shop
  • Davygate – outside the former Halifax Bank
  • Church Street – at the side of St Sampson’s Church
  • Church Street – outside The Works
  • St Andrewgate – at the Kings Square end
  • Piccadilly – outside Lloyds Bank
  • Parliament Street – outside Barclays Bank
  • Walkway at the rear of All Saints Church
  • Lendal as soon as the skips associated with the Guildhall works are removed

When are the old racks being removed? – The racks are being removed on the 29th October.  Notices were placed on the affected racks a week in advance to forewarn users of their imminent removal.  Any cycles which have been left locked to a rack will be removed to the Council’s secure store.  Anyone wishing to reclaim a cycle should contact network.management@york.gov.uk to arrange collection.

Why is this work being done? – Following last year’s Christmas Market concerns were raised by the city centre safety advisory group about the relatively few accesses / exits from the central area and the narrowness of these accesses.  In order to enable the cabins to be better laid out and to increase the number and width of the accesses / exits it has been agreed that the cycle parking will be temporarily removed for the duration of the large events which take place on Parliament Street including the Christmas Market and Food & Drink Festival. 

The racks will be relocated to the above locations during the event and then reinstalled on Parliament Street as soon as possible after the event. At this stage it is not envisaged that the cycle parking will need to be relocated during the Yorkshire Fringe Festival or smaller markets.  In previous years several of the racks were unavailable during large events because cabins or marquees were installed immediately next to them therefore cycle parking capacity was reduced. 

By relocating the racks elsewhere in the city centre there should be no net loss of capacity during these busy events.

Bus shelter clean up welcomed

We reported last week that several of the Council owned bus shelters in west York were looking shabby. Some were overgrown with weeds and undergrowth.

We are pleased to report that, following our highlighting the issue to the York Council , some of the shelters have been tidied up. Undergrowth has been cut back from the shelters making them much more user friendly.

However the work undertaken has also served to emphasise how much these shelters need a coat of paint and other refurbishment.

Many are now rusting quite badly.

Foxwood Lane shelter. No longer an Arboretum
Shelter near Otterwood Lane as tidied up
Askham Lane bus shelter, although very rusty, is now free of undergrowth

We were also pleased to see for the first time for some time today that the Cornlands Park was largely free of litter.

There seems to be a slow improvement in some public service standards in the City following a disappointing summer.

Cornlands park