Bishopthorpe Road closure set to continue for at least 2 months

Another behind closed doors decision by York Council

With almost breath taking arrogance, the York Council has issued a statement saying that the closure of the southbound lane at Bishopthorpe Road shops will continue for another 2 months.

There has been no debate about other options and a large petition – which asked for the road to be reopened – has been ignored.

No report on the success or otherwise of what the Council describes as a “trial” has been published.

One of the earliest criticisms of the scheme was that the Council had failed to identify how the success or otherwise of the project would actually be judged. It simply referred, rather loftily, to social distancing and government policy.

In reality, the array of bollards has made little difference to social distancing while the contraflow bike lane has introduced another, unwelcome, hazard for cyclists. There has been no consideration of opening up parallel routes (Darborough Street/Cherry Street & St Benedict’s Road) which would at least have provided a much shorter diversion

Bishopthorpe Road lane closure. Petition calls for lane to be reopened.

Nor has the opportunity been taken, during a relatively quiet period, to test an off peak pedestrianisation of the shops area between 10:30am and 4:00pm. Such a scheme would also have aligned with the governments policies while also providing much more room for social distancing. The impacts both economic and on transportation would have provided some real food for thought.

Too late now though, as imminent road works in the Nunnery Lane area are set to cause even bigger traffic congestion problems with the bus services one likely early victim. Works on the nearby South Bank flood alleviation scheme (subject to a planning committee decision next week) will further add to transport woes in the area.

Not content with increasing pollution levels on Scarcroft Road the new diversion via the City centre will add over a mile to some journeys.

The Council says that residents can Email them with their views. The address is Bishrd@york.gov.uk

We doubt that many will bother. Rather the pressure for the Council to adopt an open and inclusive approach to decision making will mount. The Council leadership needs to move out of its bunker mentality and start to re-engage with the local community.

Kent Davison Selina Meyer Gary Cole GIF | Gfycat

We saw in 2015 what happened when a particularly stubborn administration tried to force the Lendal Bridge closure on an unwilling population.

The same will happen again unless polices and attitudes change and change quickly.

Plans to widen footpaths in Piccadilly, Micklegate and Low Ousegate

The Council has belatedly published the background to its decision to  introduce a contraflow cycle route at the Bishopthorpe Road shops.

The scheme – which diverts southbound traffic onto Nunnery Lane and Blossom Street – has been criticised for increasing safety risks for cyclists. Critics also say there has been an unnecessary increase in congestion and emission levels while road works are taking place near the Holgate Road junction.

A, very thin, background report was apparently considered by the acting Chief Executive Ian Floyd on 5th May. Details have only just emerged. There was no opportunity given for public consultation on the draft proposals.

It is claimed that the change was prompted by queuing issues for pedestrians on the butchers side of the road. The Council claims that some traders were restricting the public footpath width by displaying goods outside their shops.

The report sounded the following warning, “It should be noted that where highway space is limited the provision of more space for pedestrians will reduce the space available for other modes including cyclists and/or may complicate the layout of highways – making it harder for deliveries or road users to understand and/ or navigate”.

There are Highway Maintenance works in the area which may mean that the road closure would need amending for a few nights in mid May”.

The changes cost £4000 with an ongoing weekly expenditure of £2000. The report says, “The maintenance cost could reduce if there were other traffic management schemes in the city at the same time.

It appears that no safety audit results were reported to the decision making meeting which was held in private.

The arrangement has impacted on the number 11, 26 & 21 bus services.

Tesco Express on Low Ousegate - Convenience Stores in City Centre ...

Low Ousegate

The report also says that measures may be warranted at the city centre food shops on Piccadilly, Low Ousegate and Micklegate.

Hopefully any such proposals will involve a full safety audit and consultation. Any changes in Low Ousegate in particular could have significant knock on effects on public transport.

NB. Some Labour Councillors are trying to change the policy that they advocated in January when they wanted to ban all private car use within the City walls. They now want to establish a Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the same area. This would allow electric car users access but would hit commercial premises deliveries, and some bus services, very hard. It is not a practical short term option.

There is a more immediate need to address the travel needs of the large number former bus users who will be excluded from that mode of travel because of ongoing social distancing rules

Don’t make it up as you go along – issues on Bishopthorpe Road

York got its first “social distancing” footpath widening on Bishopthorpe Road today. Southbound vehicles now face a 1 mile detour via Nunnery Lane and Blossom Street. It is said that this will allow those queuing outside the butchers shop to have a 2 metre social distancing space.

Maybe so.

But the execution of the project does suggest planning based on impulse rather than the result of  a more considered approach.

Northbound cycle lane closed

Not least this is because the alternative route is itself obstructed this week as extensive water company road works are take place on Blossom Street.

Blossom Street impeded by roadworks this week

Still it is even more good news for street sign manufacturers. In a week where we have seen £700,000 allocated to new City centre direction signs  and a, largely unnecessary, lamppost replacement programme eroding highway maintenance budgets still further, we now see what can only be described as a confusing forest of road closed signs appearing on Bishopthorpe Road.

Few takers for implied southbound contra flow cycle lane

The big potential losers are those who depend on two wheeled transport. The northbound cycle lane has been scrapped while an ambiguous sign on the southern approach implies that a contraflow lane is available. Not surprisingly few cyclists were today prepared to risk riding against the traffic flow on the improvised – and relatively narrow – new central carriageway. There are safer routes available via St Benedict’s Road or the Darnborough Street/Vine Street loop.

So – just as with the Lendal Bridge closure fiasco of a few years ago – the law of unintended consequences has set in on this well intentioned initiative.

Elsewhere, there are easier gains to be had. Cycle paths (and some footpaths) are once again being overgrown by weeds and bushes. A few pounds spent there would produce a better return than is evident on Bishopthorpe Road.

A trial pedestrianisation of this shopping area may well be worth considering when traffic flows have returned to normal. But everyone needs to accept that less traffic here will mean more passing vehicles in other residential areas.

The Council should spend more time ensuring that cycle paths are free of obstructions. This one on Tadcaster Road is gradually being eroded by weed growth

Thankfully the Council has put on hold its plan to stop traffic using The Groves area as a short cut. Critics of the plan pointed out that it could mean gridlock for Lord Mayors Walk with serious implications for emergency vehicle response times together with a knock on effect on public transport. Trial road closures, in the current unique circumstances, wouldn’t prove anything.

It is another scheme that needs to be re-evaluated as and when the City’s economy – and the Councils finances – return to more normal levels.

York Central planning application submitted

The York Central Partnership has submitted a planning application for the first phase of infrastructure works to unlock York Central

The plans include:

  • new access road for the site
  • bridge over the East Coast mainline
  • tree planting and landscaping

The York Central Partnership has submitted a planning application for the first phase of infrastructure works to unlock the York Central site and allow development to start, following extensive consultation held in February and March. The Partnership will now work, including through the planning process with City of York Council, to achieve a positive outcome in these exceptional times.

The partnership made up of Network Rail, Homes England, City of York Council and supported by the National Railway Museum is developing proposals to regenerate the 45 hectare site, one of the largest city centre brownfield development sites in the UK. This planning application will create the necessary access to the site, so that it can be unlocked to provide homes, employment opportunities, a new park and other facilities.

The first Reserved Matters application proposals include:

  • New access routes throughout the site, including 1.85km (1.1 miles) of segregated cycle and pedestrian pathways
  • A new bus lane on Cinder Street and routes for two park and ride services to run through the site
  • A new bridge in weathering steel, the same material is used on the new Scarborough Bridge foot and cycleway, across the East Coast Mainline
  • A £4m shared pedestrian and cycle bridge added to the Water End bridge
  • New streets and access points, including a Leeman Road link road, change to Leeman Road tunnel and Marble Arch
  • A new rail siding which will be used by the National Railway Museum
  • Mature tree planting along the routes, and new pathways and landscaping through Millennium Green

While the timing of any development is now likely to be impacted by the current lock-down, most concerns are likely to relate to the absence of a new dedicated cycle access in the Leeman Road tunnel area.

Leeman Road tunnel issues not resolved.

The current proposals involve a shared access route using the existing, sub standard, structure. One way working would impede public transport services.

There are similar access concerns for cyclists in the Wilton Rise area.

NB. The applicants promised to include the responses made by residents to their last public consultation, which took place in February, when they submitted this final planning application. They do not appear to have done so. Instead there is a sanitised version which fails to address many of the points made

Still problems with cycle network in York

Its not just the burgeoning number of potholes that are causing problems for cyclists. The Council has fallen behind in many areas with its white line refreshment programme.

Clifton Bridge cycle lane almost disappeared
More instances on graffiti reported today. This one near the Ouse riverbank

York cyclists urged to “switch on to road safety” as nights get longer

Cyclists in York are being warned they will be fined if they fail to use bike lights.

As the nights draw in, North Yorkshire Police is launching enforcement patrols across the city to encourage cyclists to “switch on” to road safety.

They will issue Traffic Offence Reports, which carry a £50 penalty, to those riding on pedestrian-only pavements or not using lights when it’s dark.

York Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Lee Pointon said: “As a major cycling city, it’s important that we make sure cyclists in York are safe and legal.

“Cyclists are vulnerable road users. But they also have a responsibility to ride legally and ensure they are seen. So if you ride a bike you must make sure you’re switched on when it comes to road safety.

“The cost of a set of lights is significantly less than the cost of a fine.

“And sometimes the cost is more than just financial – our officers have to knock on doors after cyclists are badly hurt or killed and break that devastating news to their families.

“If you saw what we see, you’d know it’s not worth risking it – you’d ride safely and be seen.”

Cyclists should take the following steps to stay safe:

  • Always use an approved set of front and rear bike lights. You can be fined if you don’t.
  • Switch them on from twilight – as soon as the light starts to drop
  • Check them regularly to see if you need to change the batteries or recharge them
  • Always use designated cycle paths or roads. Keep off pedestrian-only paths or face a fine
  • Wear highly-visible clothing, preferably light-reflective gear
  • Remember that even when you’re well lit you’re less visible at night than during the day, so always pay attention to your surroundings

The patrols will start on Monday and will run throughout autumn and winter.

New pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting station to city centre given the green light

The design for a wider shared-use pedestrian and cycle bridge at Scarborough Bridge was unanimously endorsed by the council’s Planning Sub-Committee yesterday.

The new bridge will be nearly three times as wide, while the ramps at either end will mean cyclists, wheelchair users and people pushing prams will be able to use the bridge with ease.  New steps connecting the ends of the bridge with the riverside paths are also to be built.

The decision means the new bridge is on track to be constructed and in use by March 2019, with its estimated £4.5m cost coming from the council; the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect Programme; and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

Works set to improve Monkgate roundabout safety

City of York Council will be improving the layout of the roundabout on Monkgate in an effort to improve safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Work will start on Monday 6 November and is expected to be completed by early December. Work will take place from 7am-3.30pm, Monday to Friday. To ensure that it is carried out safely there will be some lane closures during the works.

The improvements will see the approach to the roundabout on Huntington Road altered with improved crossing facilities at the traffic island. There will also be a new mandatory cycle lane on Huntington Road o enable cyclists to bypass any queuing traffic to use the off road route.

A shared use foot/cycle path will also be created on the corner of Huntington Road and Heworth Green. The width of the traffic islands on Heworth Green will also be increased to allow cyclists to use them safely.

The scheme was originally approved at an executive member for transport and planning decision session on 13 October 2016. This followed a consultation with homeowners on Monkgate and Huntington Road with most supporting the safety improvements.

As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption. Residents in the affected area have been contacted directly and assured that everything reasonably possible will be done to keep this to a minimum. However, motorists should expect some delays and plan their journey accordingly.

New Scarborough rail bridge pedestrian/cycle improvement to cost £5 million

Plans for an accessible, traffic-free route connecting the station to the city centre could move a step closer next week.

Senior Councillors will consider the response to the recent public consultation over plans for a wider, step-free footbridge adjacent  to Scarborough Bridge at their Executive meeting next week.

Ramps at both sides of the proposed footbridge would mean people in wheelchairs and pushing prams will be able to use the bridge, and cyclists would no longer have to push or carry their bikes up the steep narrow steps.

Widening the bridge from 1.3m to 3.7m would also make for a far more comfortable crossing for the 2,600 pedestrians and 600 cyclists who use it daily.

The consultation carried out in July included a two-day public exhibit in York Station. Of the 142 individual responses, 135 were supportive with only 2 objections.

These positive posponses reinforced the council’s understanding of the issues with the existing bridge, and revealed a strong preference for new steps on the outside of the bridge to avoid the potential ‘pinch-point’ as people joined the bridge deck from the steps.

The new bridge could be in use by January 2019, subject to planning permission and securing funding for the estimated £4.9m costs (!)

The council intends to fund the bridge form multiple sources, including its own capital and local transport funds, the West Yorkshire CityConnect scheme and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

The new bridge will do little to improve connectivity into the new York Central site. The original intention had been to install a bridge which would span the east cost main line eliminating “pinch point caused by the bleak Leeman Road tunnel and the river. That idea now seems to have been abandoned.

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