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.

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)

Time to spend the cycle budget

More evidence of neglect of our cycle routes. Two of the direction signs on the cycle link between Thanet Road and Sherringham Drive have been removed.

Time to use some of the Councils large cycling budget to get the signs replaced and to get the white lines repainted?

Missing sign at the Thanet Road junction. Delineating while lines have almost disappeared.
Similar problem at the Wains Road link
Anyone getting as far as Sherringham Drive will find the path still covered in weeds with overgrown hedges making progress difficult.

Blocked paths – report them now

Following an exchange of views on social media we have received several more complaints about obstructions on foot and cycle paths.

In the main this is caused by overgrown hedges but in some cases low hanging tree branches are to blame while the, still out of control, infestation of hazardous weeds like nettles and brambles remains a problem.

Most of the overgrowing vegetation is the York Councils responsibility to cut back.

We urge residents to Report any issues. (Just don’t expect to get any feedback from the Council!)

If no action is taken then escalate the issue to your local Councillor.

We think getting problems like these sorted out should be a top priority for the Council as such obstacles represent an increased hazard as nightfall creeps ever earlier.

Several obstructions on the York Cycle network

More on weed control in York

The Council has now replied to our complaint about inadequate weed control on public areas this summer.

They candidly accept now that the spraying has not been satisfactory.

They are now commencing a re-spray. The spray will include a colouring agent which will show which areas have received attention.

Weeds on the A59 have not been treated

This will be supplemented by Council staff who will work on areas not included on the contract. The areas near Poppleton on the A59 are a high priority.

Another problem has developed with obstructions to public cycle and footpaths.

Again the path on the A59 is one that is blocked

Path near Poppleton is still blocked
Brambles over growing the cycle path on Tadcaster Road may become a safety issue with darker nights coming.
Bushes are impeding access to the Hob Moor cycle track
Hedges blocking the cycle path at the rear of Hob Stones still haven’t been cut back
Someone has spent some time on this graffiti near the southern by pass
But less time on this!

Plan to grit 11 miles of York’s cycle network

New off road vehicles are set to be used to grit 11miles (18km) of York’s cycle network this winter.

If successful, the pilot could be extended across the city to help keep cyclists safer in winter conditions.

A report detailing the pilot will be taken to a public meeting on Thursday 19 September, for approval to start during the winter season between November and March.

The pilot includes using two different vehicles to grit 11miles (18km) of cycle network, using small all-terrain vehicles including a quad bike and a gator type machine.

The trial is welcome but rather distracts attention from other more pressing issues facing cyclists.

Many cycle paths in the City are obstructed

Many cycle paths are currently obstructed by overhanging hedge and tree branches. Unchecked weed growth has also reduced path widths as has the failure of the Council to systematically “edge” verges.

Perhaps the most pressing issue though is potholes. These affect some cycle lanes and many inner sections of carriageways – the surfaces most used by cyclists.

It is now 10 years since the last major programme of cycle margin maintenance works took place in the City.

The Council says that, “Popular cycle routes have been chosen for the de-icing trial, including the new Scarborough Bridge and other off road bridges too.

The introduction of the new smaller vehicles will ensure the networks are effectively gritted.  Off road cycle networks are often difficult to grit or salt because cycles don’t have the same weight or action as a vehicle tyre. Effective gritting works by vehicles driving over the grit with their tyres which beds the grit into the snow and ice.

Whilst cars or heavy vehicles generally follow the same tyre path. Cycle tyres are much thinner and therefore these typical treatments are less effective.

For the pilot, the council will hire the vehicles and if, following the pilot, the council decides to roll this scheme out across York, it will look to purchase new vehicles to the council’s fleet.

The cost of the pilot is estimated to be £42k. This will be met by the current winter maintenance budget which is £401k.

By its nature the winter maintenance budget is not predictable, in 2018/19 there was an underspend of £61k. Should this not occur in 2019/20 there is a winter maintenance contingency available of £258k, in addition to the annual budget, which could be utilised.

This pilot will not formally be part of the council’s Winter Service Plan, but will run alongside this a pilot.  After the winter the pilot will be assessed and considered for formally incorporating into the Winter Service Plan”.

Preparing for the winter season:

The council has stockpiled 3,000 tonnes of grit, which is stored in its grit barn at Hazel Court depot.

On average, crews spread around 4,500 tonnes of grit per season, over 75 road treatments (gritter runs).

Each season, crews treat eight routes across the highway, covering 365km of York’s road network, including 22km of priority footpaths and, when recourses allow, 58km of cycle network.

The decision session takes place on Thursday 19 September at West Offices from 2pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch later online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

A copy of the report can be read by clicking here

Cycling to be allowed on High Petergate?

It looks like the York Council will reintroduce cycling access on High Petergate. The street which links through Bootham Bar was pedestrianised many years ago.

This did make cyclists traveling north to south dismount or take a more circuitous route.

Shared pedestrian/cycle space can work and is popular in some continental City’s such as Bruges.

However, in York, there are some cyclists who travel too fast in shared spaces like that around the Minster and the narrow streets around Bootham Bar are often packed with tourists who may be unaware of local conventions.

So we hope that any trial will include advice for cyclists to give way to pedestrians.

A decision on the plan is expected to be taken at a meeting being held on 24th October.

NB. Any cycle routes will permit cycling in High Petergate in a southerly direction (i.e. from Bootham Bar to Duncombe Place ) only at all times. The street would remain one way. There are no plans to allow cycling in other footstreets.

BID funds more cycle parking spaces in central York

cycle-rack-esplanade-york

The York Business Improvement District (BID) team is reminding residents that additional cycle parking facilities were provided earlier in the year. Funded by the BID, the security hoops can be found at the following locations

# Blake Street

# High Petergate

# Spark: York Piccadilly

# Lord Mayors Walk

#Esplanade

#Deangate

#St Maurice’s Road

#George Street

#Castlegate Area

The overall capacity of city centre cycle parking was increased by 10%. Along with this the BID brought seven new signposts showing a map of the cities cycle routes and all the available cycle parking.

Each of the cycle racks features information and maps detailing cycle routes and parking around the city centre.

York BID’s Street Rangers also play a role in ensuring that as much bike parking is available as possible, by monitoring bikes that have been abandoned throughout all of the city’s cycle parking facilities.

“There is a high demand for dedicated cycle racks, so we regularly look out for bikes that have been left for long periods of time, and work with City of York Council to remove those that go unclaimed,”

Tags are attached to any bicycle that appears to have been abandoned, and if it not moved after a month, it is taken away for storage for a further month, before any unclaimed bikes are recycled and sold. 

A cycling map can be downloaded from this link (click)

100 lost car parking spaces, brutal architecture & a dodgy cycle crossing feature in latest St Georges Field plans

York residents are being invited to see the final plans for the St Georges Field and Castle Mills developments.

City of York Council is sharing plans for a multi-storey car park at St George’s Field, a new bridge over the Foss and a residential development at Castle Mills area ahead of submitting planning applications over the next two months. 

The proposed developments are “the vital first stages to deliver the centrepiece of the vision for Castle Gateway – a new public space around Clifford’s Tower and the Eye of York”.

The four-storey car park at St George’s Field is “needed to replace the parking places which would be lost on the current Castle Car Park, and would be funded through the new residential apartment developments on the site of the now demolished Castle Mills Car Park. By moving the car park, the plan would remove a number of journeys from inside the inner ring road”.

As part of the plans a new public bridge spanning the River Foss would connect Piccadilly and the rear of the Castle Museum, opening up a planned cycle and pedestrian route along the river into town.

The plans involve the loss of 100 car parking spaces to which can be added to those already lost when the Castle Mill car park was closed a couple of years ago. The multi storey car park is further away from the main shopping streets. Its lower floor is likely to be unusable when river levels are high.

How the retail community will view this reality remains to be seen.

There is a new shared cycle/pedestrian crossing at the junction with the inner ring road. The proposal fails to separate these users from general traffic, a failing also evident in the solution proposed for cycle priority in the Leeman Road/Marble Arch area.

There will be a shared cycle/pedestrian bridge across the Foss near the rear of the Castle Museum.

More controversially the artists impressions for new residential buildings on Piccadilly show an unrelentingly brutal architectural approach. It will not be to everyone’s taste.

The Council claims that the plans have been refined since they were shared at public events, online and through social media in March.

The two drop-in events feature an exhibition of the proposals and the opportunity to talk to the team about the plans. There is also the chance to take guided walks of the area to explore the developments on location:

Saturday 1 June
Drop-in 11am-2pm / Guided walks at 11:30am and 1pm
Spark : York, Piccadilly

Wednesday 5 June
Drop-in 3pm-7pm / Guided walks at 4pm and 6pm
Friends Meeting House, Friargate

Residents are invited to a drop-in session or to join the conversation on twitter @MyCastlGatewaywww.facebook.com/MyCastleGateway.

You can also view the plans online from Friday 31 May at https://www.york.gov.uk/CastleGatewayMasterplanLatest

The Castle Gateway masterplan was created after City of York Council teamed up with a local group called My Future York to develop ‘My Castle Gateway’.  The ongoing, open conversation has taken in walks, talks and conversations on social media to develop a brief and explore emerging ideas before this masterplan was finalised.

St Georges Field layout
Car Parking plans
Piccadilly/Foss development
Brutal architecture