Yesterday we revealed that the Council had started consultation on changes to the pedestrian/cycle route from the railway station to Bootham.
We pointed out that the impact on the Marygate car park had not been explained in the Councils documents.
We are now led to understand that a drawing, which details what will happen at the car park, was for some reason omitted from the consultation papers. It has now been added (click)
This new layout apparently requires virtually all the spaces in the car park to be re-marked.
Officials claim that, overall, 6 spaces will be lost.
The Railway Walk path would be widened to 3.4 metres.
The 40 spaces currently coned off would be restored for parking use.
There may be access, turning radius and other implications for users which are not clear from the large scale map provided, so we will hope that residents will be given sight of the stage 1 and 2 safety audit reports.
It is still unclear why the Council launched this consultationwithout telling anyone how to participate.
Marygate car park has been full today with around half a dozen cars at anytime patrolling the service roads waiting for someone to vacate a space.
The 40 odd spaces on the railway side of the car park are still coned off. There is little use made of these by cyclists and an alternative is available – using the service road – only a couple of feet away.
The old shared use footpath is also very lightly used making social distancing easy.
Residents will wonder what it takes to get the Council to review this obviously perverse decision.
Perhaps the Groves counter-revolutionaries will pay a visit and realign the cones?
In the meantime the Council is losing around £400 a day in car park charge income.
With City centre car parks very busy this week, it is surprising that LNER haven’t taken the opportunity to sell more spaces on their otherwise largely empty car park at the railway station.
Not many people are going to pay £18 for a days parking but the company could help themselves by marketing spaces at a discounted rate.
At the moment they are bringing in no income for the beleaguered, state owned, outfit.
The popular shoppers car park in Marygate was even more popular yesterday (Sunday) as faulty ticket machines were allowing free parking.
It is not the first time that drivers have found the exit barriers permanently raised.
The car park was full at lunchtime and was still 80% occupied at 4:00pm.
Driver must have been tempted to move the bollards which still block 40 spaces as part of an ill considered scheme to provide more room for cyclists. The few cyclists who were in the area used either the shared use footpath or the car park service road.
It does make residents wonder how long ill judged schemes like these have to continue before the Council reverts to a more considered alternative?
It is clear that, at the moment, most visitors are opting to use personal, rather than public, transport. If the City centre economy is to be sustained, then the Council will have to recognise that reality, at least until a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out.
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.
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.
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.
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)
A lot is riding on the future of the City centre economy this week as most shops are now reopening. Shopper numbers yesterday were modest – broadly comparable to the numbers that you might have seen on the streets on a Monday in February.
This may step up as the week progresses and residents realise the choice that is available and that car parking space is easy to find (the Council have not discounted parking charges yet).
The reopening of pubs, cafes, libraries and hairdressers – and a loosening of public transport restrictions – would also bring a boost to visitor numbers although such changes are still some time away. It may be even longer before some major visitor and cultural attractions open their doors.
It will also be a few days before “footfall” figures are available (assuming that the cameras have been switched back on).
Generally, “social distancing” was being observed well by those visitors who did venture out. The City centre is clean and uncluttered. Buskers are out and about again but it will require the authorities to commission background entertainment if a “buzz” is to return to the pedestrian areas.
Following concerns about declining use of City centre car parks, the York Council has published details of the monthly income that it is receiving from each.
In total the York Council receives over £5 million from off street car parking charges each year.
Recent reports pointed to a “below budget” performance which was partially blamed on unreliable barrier equipment installed in July 2014 at the Marygate car park. The detailed figures now published, suggest that the 12 month rolling average income for Marygate saw use of the facility decline until as recently as August of this year.
It has yet to return to pre-barrier levels of use.
The Council’s policy on charging has been heavily criticised over recent years with the, then Labour controlled, Council imposing huge increases in prices – particularly for residents. A paid for “Minster Badge” was introduced but this has failed to attract the expected number of purchasers.
These factors were blamed for a decline in use – and the migration of shoppers to out of town retail outlets.
The Council is set to review its parking policy at a meeting being held on 28th January Before that, in December, it is expected to set its parking charges for the forthcoming financial year.
Freedom of Information (FOI) response confirms that the former Labour Council did not record number of faults reported on the barrier equipment
Marygate car park
An FOI response has confirmed what many feared. The introduction of barrier controls at the Marygate car park has seen the number of drivers paying to park there reduce, resulting in a substantial fall in income.
The income received by the Council in the 12 months since the barriers were installed has been £556,442,
In the equivalent period, before the barriers replaced “pay and display”, income had been £672,547.
In the past the Council has used surplus income from parking to invest in the maintenance of highways infrastructure. If that income is no longer available then transport subsidies – for services as wide ranging as off peak bus services, car park maintenance and road repairs – will have to come direct from taxpayers.
In turn, this is likely to lead to a further fall in the funding available for other essential services.
The last Council was also criticised for selling off the Haymarket car park for a fraction of its real value. This move lost the Council another £200,000 a year in car parking income.
The reduced use of City centre car parks has, of course, been influenced by other factors. Charges have almost doubled during the last 4 years while successful additional park and ride facilities have been provided at Poppleton and Askham Bar.
But the failure of the Council to accept that the barrier system adopted or Marygate involved major reliability risks is a contributory factor.
It has also been revealed that the last Labour run Council did not record the number of faults reported on the Marygate equipment. Usually the barriers would “fail” in the open position effectively allowing free parking so it is perhaps not surprising that the Council has not received any compensation claims for mechanical failures.
Since May there have been seven occasions where barrier failures have occurred at Marygate.
In the same period a further seven faults have developed on the ticket issuing machines.
The Council has not retained records of how long it took to fix each fault. It does however say that the costs of repairs were covered by the suppliers warranty with “approximately £300 spent on spare parts”.
The change to barrier controlwas part of a trial aimed at removing the pressure on visitors to return to their cars before their “pay and display” ticket expired. However the introduction of “pay by text” effectively addressed this issue as drivers are now able to buy additional parking time remotely using their smart phones.
The £100,000 cost of making the change now looks to have been a major folly with the number of occupied parking spaces having actually fallen.
Rail passengers, York residents and visitors to the city are being reminded to plan ahead this half term as the old bridge deck of Scarborough Rail Bridge will be lifted out and a new one installed.
The work to refurbish the bridge means that no trains can run over it between 14 and 23 February, with coaches replacing First Trans-Pennine Express trains between York and Seamer.
The worksite in York will also affect local residents and visitors. Marygate car park will be closed from 2 to 27 February to safely accommodate the crane and other construction equipment. The footbridge alongside Scarborough railway bridge which also carries National Cycle Network route 65 across the river will be closed from 9 February to 2 March and the shared use paths on either side of the river under Scarborough railway bridge will close between 14 and 22 February. (more…)