Bid for DfT funding to support cycling and walking

The Council apparently wants to add a cycling/pedestrian bridge to the A1237 viaduct near Poppleton. A similar facility at Scarborough railway bridge cost over £4.4 million. While improvements at this location would be welcome, it is unclear how a bridge could be funded and what the implications might be for future carriageway dualling plans.

City of York Council has submitted a bid to the Government for £850,000 of funding (against an indicative allocation of £693,000).

This is part of an overall £1.45m programme, to maintain the growth in walking and cycling seen across the city during lockdown.

The Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund is designed to support walking and cycling as a long-term method for commuting, as the country emerges from the pandemic and to address the current capacity constraints on Public Transport. To receive any allocation from the fund, the council has to demonstrate ‘swift and meaningful plans’ to support cyclists and pedestrians in York.

This application is for the second of two phases, with the first seeing the council being awarded £193,000 in June (this was £20,000 more than the indicative allocation).

The funding for the second phase is conditional on demonstrating how the council is able to adapt the city’s infrastructure to support more active travel, and how quickly these additional measures can be delivered.

City of York Council has submitted a programme of actions to support walking and cycling at key locations as alternatives to travel by bus or car. 

Subject to a successful award of funding, the second phase aims to deliver the following schemes:

It would cost around £360,000 to construct a 6 mile off road cycle track from Wheldrake to Fulford. This would include foundations aimed at stopping the kind of tree root damage which has made parts of the nearby York – Selby cycle track unusable.
  • Measures focused on providing cycling and walking links between Wheldrake and Heslington. This scheme provides an off-road cycle route to Wheldrake, which will benefit commuters between the village and York city centre, including schoolchildren travelling to school in Fulford.
  • Further improvements on the A19 Shipton Road, a 3.2km radial route with cycle lanes currently being designed for delivery in phase 1. The additional funding will allow some of the existing pedestrian refuges on the road (which constrain the width of the proposed cycle lanes)) to be replaced with signalised crossings and improvements to the main junctions on the road.Improvements to A1237 outer ring road bridge – permanent provision of a cycle lane and improved footways over a 1km viaduct where provision is currently poor – linking suburbs on the northern and southern sides of the River Ouse and East Coast Main Line, including Manor School on the southern side and Clifton Moor Retail Park on the northern.
  • Measures in the city centre to improve access into and around the city centre to serve the footstreets area and ensure that the heart of the city is as accessible as possible for pedestrians, cyclists and disabled residents. This scheme would include a range of measures such as improved signage, improvements to disabled crossing facilities, and a new crossing near Castle Mills Bridge catering for cyclists and pedestrians using the existing riverbank path, but wishing to travel across the Inner Ring Road into the south east of the city centre, an area being regenerated.
  • Acomb Road/ York Road Acomb cycle scheme – a scheme to improve conditions for cyclists on Acomb Road to the west of York, including many children travelling to local schools, but where there is currently very little provision.
  • School Zone Pilot – After a successful trial of a ‘people street’ concept at Carr Junior School in association with Sustrans last year, further changes would be planned to Ostman Road in Acomb for a pilot scheme, with potential future wider rollout across the city.

Additional council funding will be used to compliment the schemes in the bid above, as well as consulting and co-designing schemes with local communities, residents and businesses. 

The second phase bid will complement the first phase of funding which is being used to deliver a number of measures across the city including:

  • Extensions to existing Park and Pedal facilities at Rawcliffe Bar Park & Ride site, alongside a new cycle route from the site along Shipton Road
  • Improved cycle parking in the city centre
  • Extensions to the footstreets area
  • Temporary footway widening at pinch points near shops
  • Alterations to signal timings to reduce pedestrian queuing at city centre traffic lights.
  • ‘The Groves’ neighbourhood traffic reduction 18-month trial
No mention of improvements to the rapidly declining existing cycle network

So we have a curates egg of proposals. There seems to have been no attempt made to assess potential demand for cycling facilities and hence likely use. The 2000 residents of Wheldrake may get a very expensive path. It is unlikely to carry many commuters in winter (providing street lighting would be even more expensive).

The 12,000 residents of Westfield are offered nothing. Ditto the Rural West ward, where the Knaption – Rufforth cycle path, and several rural carriageways need resurfacing, also get nothing.

There has been no consultation. The so called “big conversation” doesn’t offer choices on transport projects.

There is no consent from residents and without that we will see resentment and conflict.. That much was evident on Bishopthorpe Road.

The Council say the “work will be co-ordinated with the council’s Economic Recovery Strategy, which will be delivered over the next few months.

The strategy focuses on prioritising active travel, working with bus and rail operators to ensure people can continue to use public transport with confidence and creating a more people-focussed city centre.

To find out more about, York’s Active Travel Fund Bid, visit: www.york.gov.uk/ActiveTravelBid (bid documents will be live on this webpage tomorrow, 11 August).

Tell us what you think

We’re asking residents and businesses to complete our Big Conversation survey, which kick-starts a year-long programme of on and offline opportunities for residents and businesses to shape the city’s recovery.

Over 700 people have already responded and we’d be grateful for your views too: www.york.gov.uk/OurBigConversation

Ascot Way still closed

Builders have closed Ascot Way forcing a bus diversion. The road has been closed by builders working on the Lincoln Court/Windsor House site.

A pedestrian route has been maintained but vehicles including buses and cyclists face a detour.

Ascot Way closed

The Council had previously claimed that the Centre for the Disabled, being built on the site of the former Windsor House home, would be completed in June. Work on this project, and the adjacent upgrade of the Lincoln Court apartments , looks to be some way from completion.

The Kingsway area has had more than its fair share of disruption in recent years. There is only one access road open and it has born the brunt of heavy vehicle operations. First there was the Hob Stone development – which dragged on for three years, then the Council development in Newbury Avenue to be quickly followed by the work now going on in Ascot Way.

Local residents are looking forward to the end of the disruption, the restoration of lost amenities plus urgently needed repairs to roads.

Cycle path maintenance still poor

The York Civic Trust was reported in the media today as backing a “go slow” by cyclists in the City centre. They were apparently highlighting the need to remove cars from roads to allow for safer cycling.

Any such plans need to be subject to detailed consultation. The Civic Trust could make a start by re-engaging with its own members.

We have already seen on half baked scheme – on Bishopthorpe Road – impact adversely on both shoppers and traders. Nearby roads became clogged at peak times increasing pollution levels.

A similar situation arose at Marygate car park where 40 spaces are currently coned off to provide a (largely unused) route for cyclists. Many cyclists choose to use the internal service road. Meanwhile pressure on parking spaces means shoppers are discouraged and prosperity in the City centre is put under more pressure.

The City does’t benefit from impulsive, uninformed, decision making.

If cyclists – with or without the support of the Civic Trust which really should have other concerns – choose to “go slow” then they will only be replicating life of many riders who try to use existing, suburban, off road cycle paths.

Moor Lane shared cycle/footpath obstructed by overgrown hedge

Too many of these are obstructed by hedges and weeds. Surfaces are damaged, signage faded and lines obscured by age. There are no regular maintenance inspections. Even local Councillors seem unaware of the problems or are indifferent to them.

If the Council has funding available then that is where they should make the first investments.

Busier in York today

A lot more visitors to York City centre today. Most of the car parks used by shoppers were full.

Never been a more important time for the Council to get its car park space availability advance signs working again. Same for variable message signs.
Nunnery Lane car park full
Half a dozen unoccupied disabled spaces at Nunnery Lane
Reason why some people don’t cycle into York? Bike -or most of it – may have gone by the time you return
Castle car park – York’s most popular with shoppers – full today. This is the car park that some Councillors wish to close.
Peel Street car park full. This is the privately owned car park which is offering free parking in conjunction with some City centre traders. Seems to be very successful
College Street attractions proving to be popular. Possible scope for something similar in the Duncombe Place/Deans Park area?
More people in Parliament Street but the space is still underused.
Improving footfall on Fossgate with a coupe of restaurants serving from outside tables.
Goodramgate foot street also well used today
People even queuing to get into Spark! Council may be hoping for a rent payment?
Monk Bar general spaces 95% occupied. Unfortunately, once again, only four of the 40 spaces reserved for blue badge holders were in use. Needs an early policy review.
Most embarrassing gaff by the Council is the – largely unused – cycling lane in the Marygate car park. The rest of the car park was full today. The car park is popular with shoppers and uses the “pay on exit” system. The parking spaces could be reinstated and cyclists could choose to use the service road if they wish.
The Esplanade short stay car park was at 80% of its capacity today.
Lots of space at the railway station car park. Suspect that LNER may have missed an opportunity here.?

As one road reopens and another closes

Footstreets extended to support Castlegate “businesses and social distancing”

With Bishopthorpe Road due to reopen on Monday, the York Council has issued a statement saying “We are creating additional outdoor space on Castlegate, after businesses grouped together to put forward proposals to transform the road into footstreets and use the space for pavement cafes & stalls”.

The one way street is not used by through traffic so the main impact will be on disabled parking and servicing.  No criteria on how the success of the project will be judged have been published.

Castlegate will be extended into the city centre pedestrian zone to help support local businesses by providing residents more space to social distance and making access to city centre restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops and businesses easier, as part of the emergency response to COVID-19.

The actions are designed to support the council’s Economic Recovery – Transport and Place Strategy, to build resident, visitor and stakeholder confidence that York is a safe, healthy and attractive place for everyone.

York has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, with many areas within York’s city centre already designated as pedestrian footstreets.

In line with the Government guidance on public spaces and relaxing the restrictions for the hospitality sector this month, the council is extending the footstreet hours, which are expected to be in place from 8 August. This means no vehicles are allowed to access, or park on, these streets, including deliveries between 10.30am 8pm, seven days a week.  During the footstreet times, barriers will be in place in Castlegate to control access, but emergency vehicles will be permitted access at all times.

These are temporary measures as part of the emergency response to the pandemic and will remain under review as national guidance evolves and local needs change.

The council wants to encourage people who have been working from home all day to head in to the city centre to eat, relax and socialise in a family-friendly early evening environment.  Alongside this, the council is encouraging the safe return of residents and visitors by incentivising short stay parking in some of the city’s car parks.

This includes offering 1 hour free parking in August to support local businesses and residents and encouraging people to shop local. More on this can be found here: www.york.gov.uk/news/article/235/free-parking-supports-economy

In addition to this, Blue Badge holders can, as has always been the case, park for free in any council car park and can take advantage of using disabled bay spaces in council car parks too. For more information on council car parks visit www.york.gov.uk/parking

Bishopthorpe Road to reopen to traffic

The York Council has issued a media release indicating that the controversial Bishopthorpe Road lane closure will end on 4th August.

However no formal notification of any meeting being held, to endorse the change, has appeared on the Councils register of decisions.

No notice of any decision meeting was published by the Council.

The original decision to close one lane appeared to be based on a whim. It sprang from a request by a Micklegate ward Labour Councillor (Kilbane) but was quickly adopted by the Councils transport executive Councillor (Andy D’Agorne). There was no public consultation before implementation.

The reversal of the decision fails to acknowledge the harm and resentment felt by significant sections of the community about the ill judged scheme.

The scheme has been compared to the closure of Lendal Bridge where a intransigent Council persisted with a failed experiment for nearly two years before admitting defeat. It put the cause of traffic reduction back by 10 years. We hope that the iconic “Bishy Road” shopping area doesn’t suffer a similar setback.

The main criticisms of the scheme were that, contrary to claims, it did little to assist with social distancing. Indeed in places, bollards actually increased pedestrian congestion.

Cyclists were put at risk when using the contraflow cycle lane while those living in the St Benedict Road area had to cope with increased short cutting and consequent higher pollution levels.

St Benedict’s road suffered from short cutting

Against expectations, in June the scheme was extended for another 2 months

Even many who acknowledged that traffic reduction was desirable, pointed out that an (off peak) foot street option might have won greater public support.

We said, right from the beginning, that diverting traffic onto Nunnery Lane and Blossom Street, when the latter was partly closed for utility works, was completely half baked.

So it proved.

It seems that gas works will return on the Blossom Street area shortly.

That, coupled with other road closures in the city, really would have caused traffic chaos at a time when the economy is slowly getting back onto its feet.

The Councils change of heart is welcome, albeit belated. We next hope to see changes to remove some of the unnecessary restrictions on space use in the Marygate car park and on the Monk Bar car park.

Marygate car park spaces closed off
Unused disabled spaces in Monk Bar car park

Fossgate traffic; “We cocked it up” admits Council

The Council is taking urgent action to change access arrangements on Fossgate and part of Walmgate.

It follows complaints from residents and traders who have been unable to service their premises during the extended pedestrian hours.

It is understood that this has adversely affected trade.,

The Council says, “The current arrangements were installed as part of the Councils emergency COVID response to facilitate pavement cafes and reduce vehicles to support the Economic Recovery. Although consultation was undertaken, the businesses on Fossgate and the yards are reporting negative impacts. This change would allow resolve many of the issues with the temporary arrangements currently in place.

This change continues the displacement of blue badge parking. The council is conscious of this and has put in place mitigations including off street and on street blue badge holders and continues to keep this under review. Understanding the impact is a focus of the current consultation”

The Council has now agreed two modificatiosn to teh traffic order.

1. To approve an emergency change to the Temporary TRO currently in place on Fossgate, to manage one way vehicular access on Walmgate/Fossgate during the day through a “no motorised vehicles, except for access” restriction between 10.30am and 8pm, with two dedicated loading bays on Walmgate/Fossgate and a loading ban for the remainder of the street, and a staffed access point during footstreet hours..

2. To undertake further engagement with traders and residents on Fossgate (including Walmgate, between Fossgate and the junction with Merchantgate) and those gaining access to properties through Fossgate on what future temporary arrangements look like.

As usual the decision was taken at a “behind closed doors” decision session without any prior notice being given.

Face mask Friday – but concern grows about Council knee jerk decisions

Face masks will have to be worn in shops from today. It remains to be seen how effective this government policy will be.

What is now clear is that some of the impulsive decisions taken a couple of months ago, at the peak of the pandemic by the York Council, have not met the test of time.

Tinkering with traffic systems without proper consultation or impact assessments was always a recipe for failure.

Crucially no attempt was made to define how success would be measured.

So how have they fared?

Bishopthore Road lane closure

This was intended to provide queuing space for shoppers. It was claimed that it would make social distancing easier.

Critics pointed to new hazards for cyclists on the contraflow lane, increased congestion & pollution on alternative routes and a missed opportunity to trial an off peak pedestrian area (10:30am – 4:00pm) approach.

The results have been disappointing with the alternative Nunnery Lane/Blossom Street/ Scarcroft Road suffering for increased congestion. Bus services have been adversely affected. There has been short cutting through residential areas like St Benedict Road where parking is also now a problem

There is little footpath queuing on the east of the shopping area. The forecourted shops on the other side have adequate space although bollards have reduced flexibility.

Verdict – scrap it

An ill considered scheme which missed the opportunity that part time pedestrianisation might have offered.

Fortunately there have been no accidents involving cyclists yet, although northbound traffic levels remain below average (as they do across the whole of the highway network)

Reduced social distancing requirements (now one metre rather than two) and the introduction of face masks should lead to this trial being abandoned. A more thorough consultation on the options for the Bishopthorpe Road area could then take place.

Bollards have not improved social distancing on Bishopthorpe Road
Problems with car parking and short cutting through the St Benedict’s Road area

Foss Bridge

One of the general traffic lanes across Foss Bridge on the inner ring road was repurposed for cyclists (southbound) . The lane had been coned off while maintenance work on the bridge was carried out in the early spring.

Most cyclists opt to use the riverside off road path. Comparatively few choose to use the inner ring road.

Verdict – retain and consult on its future

There has been little congestion on this section of the inner ring road although general travel patterns are not expected to return to pre COVID levels before September.

The cycle lane has been obstructed on occasions by delivery drivers, taxi pick ups etc. so the solution is less than perfect.

Vehicle numbers on this section of the inner ring road greatly exceed the number of cyclists

Monk Bar car park disabled spaces

The Council allocated 40 spaces at the Monk Bar car park for blue badge holders when additional access & parking restrictions were introduced in the City centre (e.g. Goodramgate). A “free” taxi service link to the rear of Kings Square is offered. The decision – like several others – was taken by the Councils acting chief executive with no prior consultation.

Blue badge holders can park on single yellow lines and park free of charge at Council car parks.

The little used taxi service is costing taxpayers £354 a day.

It appears that no attempt was made to assess the demand for disabled parking spaces at Monk Bar or for the taxi link. The Council didn’t specify the use of low emission vehicles on the taxi contract

Typically no more than five blue badge holders are parking at Monk Bar at any one time. The remaining general parking spaces are being increasingly used but the car park has yet to reach the full occupation levels seen before the pandemic. The Council has also recently allocated more on street parking spaces for blue badge holders in streets like Duncombe Place.

While the initiative was well intentioned, the Council hopelessly misjudged the demand for the service.

Verdict – revise the scheme

The number of reserved spaces can be reduced and the taxi link abandoned. Consultations can take place with disabled group representatives and traders on other options. These might include a “home to city centre” subsidised taxi service for the disabled where costs are recompensed when goods are bought.

Monk Bar blue badge spaces unused
Narrow access path at Monk Bar car park. No provision made for social distancing (see Maygate below)

Marygate car park

Around 40 parking spaces have been cordoned off. The Council claimed it was to allow cyclists to avoid joint use of the footpath (which links Scarborough Bridge to Bootham Terrace). In turn this helped to maintain a two metre social distancing zone.

The scheme was criticised when proposed because if failed to assess the effectiveness of the obvious alternative (encouraging cyclists to use the internal car park service road) which would have involved the loss of only one parking space.

There were bigger problems on other routes from Scarborough Bridge both at the north (Marygate) end of the bridge and crucially at the station itself. A narrow tunnel connects the shared cycle/footpath to Bootham Terrace.

The introduction of one metre social distancing guidelines and the use of face masks will reduce any health threat.

Observations at the car park suggest that the cycle route through the parking spaces is very little used (with some cyclists opting to use the service road anyway).

The car park has been busy on occasions but has not yet reached capacity. This may change if August is as busy as it has been in the past

Verdict – amend the scheme to allow cyclists to use the car park service road.

There is no Coronavirus heath justification for routing cyclists through car parking spaces. The break in the perimeter fence can be retained – and one place bollarded off – to allow access via the service road to Bootham Tce and Almery Garth. A ramp to St Mary’s – promised but never delivered – would be a useful for both cyclists and disabled buggy users.

The Council should sort out an acceptable route for cyclists wishing to access the route from Scarborough bridge to Lowther Tce (long term plans for the station frontage remodelling need to recognise this demand)

Conned off section on Marygate car park is little used by cyclists
No cycling when you reach the station

Station front plans revised

Revised plans have been submitted to improve York Station Front with the removal of Queen Street Bridge and a reorganisation of the transport interchange in front of the station.

Forecourt

Following comments raised throughout the 2019 Station front planning process, revised plans to transform York Station Front have been submitted for consultation. This will see an addendum added to modify several areas of the original planning application, following further consultation with partners, residents and station users.

The key changes to the scheme include:

  • A redesigned multi-storey car park. After consulting with English Heritage, plans for the car park have been revised to better respect the heritage of the railway and York RI. This will also move all the station parking into one area making it better visually.
  • The layout of parcel square has been redesigned so it is more in keeping with station heritage, and in conversation with existing parcel square tenants to give them a prime location in the remodelled station.
  • Five on-street parking spaces removed from Queen Street to allow a safer cycle route to promote active travel, whilst reducing congestion around the station.
Image
Layout
Multi storey car park
City walls link
Station frontage

A lot more detail including an interesting historical analysis of the station site can be read by clicking here

For more information about the station front visit www.york.gov.uk/StationFront

People can share their views and submit comments on the application at https://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/ using ref. 19/00535/FULM and 19/00542/LBC