Better news for York – Selby cycle path users

Major resurfacing works on the Naburn to Riccall section of the cycle path are expected to take place later in the year.

The cycle path managers SUSTRANS have applied for a government grant which – if approved by Ministers in May – would see large sections of the path levelled.

The surface has been severely damaged by tree roots in recent years. SUSTRANs have already been removing some of the trees during the winter. The trees are self-seeded and became established too close to the path.

There is a hope that the resurfacing contract will include the provision of root protection guards.

 SUSTRANS also have funding to repair the path alongside the A64 subject to agreeing the details with Highways England.

SUSTRANS say that parts of the path may have to be closed while the resurfacing work takes place.

There is still no news about the promised safety improvements on the section of path from Tadcaster Road (London Bridge) to the A64 southern by-pass.

This section is the maintenance responsibility of the City of York Council.

The developers of the adjacent football club pavilion agreed some 3 years ago to invest in the path as part of their works.

With roads and footpaths to the pavilion now approaching completion, we expect the York Council to announce its proposals and timetable  for improvements to the adjacent cycle route.

Escrick Sidings

Not such good news at Escrick where the landowners have completed the levelling of the area.

The informal picnic area has been damaged in the process (albeit revealing a disappointing amount of accumulated litter!) .

SUSTRANs say that they have received no communication from the owners of the land (believed to be a local building firm). The site falls within the boundaries of the Selby District Council.

Gas main replacement completed – but roads stay closed

Micklegate Bar and Blossom Street lane closures still in place

Work on replacing gas mains on Blossom Street and next to Micklegate Bar were completed 2 weeks ago it has emerged today.

Micklegate Bar was due to reopen to traffic today and the two lane closures on Blossom Street were also due to end.

Sources at Gas Networks are now suggesting that the closures could remain in place for another 3 weeks as the York Council is apparently struggling to coordinate carriageway resurfacing works.

An expected closure for further gas main replacement works on St Helens Road was due to start today, necessitating a bus route diversion. There is no sign of such a closure which was originally scheduled to start two weeks ago.

No updates have been issued on social media by either the Council or Gas Networks.

The Council has not issued any information to the media and both the road closure list and map showing current roadworks have not been updated.

The road network is expected to become gradually busier as the lockdown restrictions are eased. The restricted lane widths on Blossom Street represent a particular hazard for cyclists.

St Helens Road still open today

Consultation begins on green corridor works near cycle path

Sustrans, who manage the York – Selby cycle path, are consulting on the work that they they hope to undertake on the trees and bushes which are adjacent to the path.

Already some work has started on removing invasive and self seeded trees the roots of which have damaged the adjacent cycle path.

The consultation takes a deeper look at the future of the green corridor.

Invasive Himalayan balsam would be removed while an effort would be made to introduce tansy into the grassland sward to support the tansy
beetle.

Near Bishopthorpe, some fruit trees may be planted.

Click for details of what is planned.
The consultation closes on 1st January 2021

We think that most cycle path users will welcome this initiative from Sustrans.

We only hope that repairs to the surface of the cycle path will start quickly now.

Too many sections of the route have been made hazardous by root damage.

No news yet on when the promised improvements, to the York Council maintained section of the cycle path between Tadcaster Road and the A64, will start. Improvements were promised as part of the plan to provide a new clubhouse and pitches for Bishopthorpe FC.

The clubhouses itself – although currently mired in mud – is making progress but no start date for the promised path upgrade has been given.

This section of track is also now subject to tree root damage.

Tadcaster Road

It looks like more may emerge over the Councils blunder in resurfacing Tadcaster Road in the summer and then deciding to dig it up again in the autumn.

In total over £5.5 million is being spent on the road with Northern Gas networks currently installing a new supply pipe along one side of the road.

When this work is completed the Council intends to lay new, surface water, drains.

Gas main works in The Mount area

The Councils scheme is being funded from a grant announced in June by the government. The announcement came a few days after the initial resurfacing scheme had been completed.

At the time there was some scepticism that York Council officials had not communicated with their DpT counterparts and explained that the work had been completed. We commented on the plans earlier in the year.

Now correspondence has been unearthed which suggests that the Northern Gas Network repairs were known to the Council in February (before the resurfacing contract was let).  An email says that the gas main would need replacing within 5 years.

It is one of several in west York that will need to be upgraded before 2026 as metal pipes are replaced with plastic. They are shown in purple on the plan.

Gas main replacement programme

An internal Council Email dated 2nd July confirmed that Tadcaster Road would be dug up again. It gave utilities a second chance to get their work done before the Council moved in again.

It was a response to this invitation which led to the current Northern Gas works, which are due to be completed in February.

We suspect that – like several other transport schemes – officials were keen to use the first lockdown period to get disruptive works out of the way while traffic levels were light.

 Although the right approach in principle, it led to corners being cut and, in this case, has resulted in a substantial waste of taxpayers’ money.

Projects completed in Westfield

Resurfacing and white lining work on part of Gale Lane has now been completed

Gale Lane 7th November

Building work at the disabled centre on Ascot Way has now been completed. Staff have occupied the building and adjacent facilities like the bus shelter and the public notice board (although damaged) are now accessible again

Resurface Tadcaster Road cycle track plea

It seems that the Council will go ahead with its controversial plan to dig up Tadcaster Road again. No report has been produced indicating the scale of he planned works although the replacement of gas mains is included in the project.

Tadcaster Road cycle path is uneven and overgrown in places.

One area that could do with attention is the off road cycle track between Moor Lane and the A1237.

Parts of the, increasingly well used, path are in poor condition and could do with widening and resurfacing. This would be in line with government policies which seek to encourage the use of sustainable transport modes. So getting their agreement to use a small proportion of the £5 million available budget shouldn’t be a problem.

Narrow path makes social distancing more difficult near Golf Club

Would you believe it; They’re going to dig up Tadcaster Road again!

A Council media release today confirms what many feared. The Tadcaster Road carriageway is going to be dug up again only 3 months after it was resurfaced.

Resurfacing work was completed in June

The carriageway is currently in excellent condition and contrasts markedly with the condition of most other roads in west York.

But it seems that the Council jumped the gun when they undertook a £600,000 resurfacing scheme earlier in the summer.

Waste Of Money GIFs | Tenor

The government announced a £5 million improvement budget in July only weeks after work on the road was completed. The government was responding to a bid that the York Council had made earlier in the year.

It is likely that taxpayers will want to know a lot more about how this blunder happened.

The Council media release issued today says,

“One of the busiest roads in York is set to benefit from a £5million government funded road improvement scheme.

City of York Council was successfully awarded funding from the Department of Transport’s Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.

The funding will enable to council to improve large sections of drainage along this route which will reduce localised surface water flooding. The work includes the delivery of additional pedestrian crossings and will ensure the road is maintenance free for the next 10 years. 

The authority has been proactively working with all the major utility companies, water, gas, electric, phones, to coordinate their future work. During this process it became apparent that Northern Gas Networks (NGN), were due to carry out major work in 2023. Working in partnership they have brought this work forward to 10 October 2020 ensuring minimum disruption for residents and commuters. The council works are scheduled to start in January 2021.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said at City of York Council, said:

“It’s excellent news that our bid for £5million to upgrade Tadcaster Road to reduce localised flooding has been reviewed by Government and is now in approved.  This will deliver much needed improvements to one of York’s busiest routes.

“Our primary goal is to ensure these works are coordinated with utilities companies so that the level of disruption for residents, businesses and visitors is reduced as much as possible.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Wasn’t part of Tadcaster Road resurfaced earlier this year?
Yes, the council bid to government for a scheme on Tadcaster Road. The council received confirmation in March that it was unsuccessful and would not receive funding.  Therefore the council resurfaced a section of Tadcaster Road as it was in need of urgent repairs between The Horseshoe and St Aubyns Place. 
However, in June the council was then awarded the £5million funding to improve large sections of drainage along Tadcaster Road which will reduce the risk of localised surface water flooding.

Northern Gas Networks have recently informed the council they have plans to carry out major works to their service at Tadcaster Road by 2025. The council was not made aware of these works before the section of Tadcaster Road between The Horseshoe and St Aubyns Place was resurfaced earlier this year.
Whilst it is not an ideal situation, the Council would rather sacrifice a small part of the works that have been undertaken already rather than risk the digging up of the major £5 million scheme in a few years’ time for the Northern Gas Networks scheme.  

£5 million Tadcaster Road repairs budget?

The government announced yesterday an allocation of £5 million for road maintenance on Tadcaster Road York. The local LibDem leadership promptly issued a statement saying that the money would be spent on “repairs”.

“There will be £5m each for plans to make the key route network in Liverpool more resilient, to begin further maintenance on the Swanswell Viaduct in Coventry, and for road maintenance on the Tadcaster Road in York“. – Boris Johnson

This will come as a surprise to many. Tadcaster Road (between Middlethorpe Drive and Knavesmire Gates) was resurfaced last month at a cost to local taxpayers of £600,000. This brought over a mile of carriageway up to standard.

That left a ½ mile stretch between Middlethorpe Drive and Sim Balk Lane to complete. Even taking into account the Tesco roundabout and adjacent off road cycle track (which does need to be reconstructed because of tree root damage) we wouldn’t expect resurfacing this section to cost more than £300,000.

There are many other carriageways in York which are in a much worse condition.

We hope that the Council will move quickly to confirm that the funding is intended to deal with the congestion black spot near the College entrance. There are unnecessary tail backs along Tadcaster Road at peak times as a result of large numbers of people leaving the college and using the pelican crossing.

College pelican crossing on Tadcaster Road

This is compounded by on carriageway bus stops and traffic lights at the Sim Balk Lane junction.

Even the provision of a footbridge would look like an expensive solution to this problem (and not necessarily a facility that everyone would choose to use).

So some further explanation is needed.

Mixed messages from York Council on cycling

The Council is using social media to promote cycling as a way to get to work when the lock-down ends. Many workplaces, offices and shops are expected to reopen during the next fortnight, putting added pressure on a compromised public transport system.

Cycling – particularly at this time of year – may be an option for some people.

But there is little evidence that the Council is addressing everyday barriers to cycling

This 100-year-old Guide To 'Self-Protection on ...

These days foot-pads aren’t the biggest threat.

The contraflow cycle lane installed on Bishopthorpe Road is an unnecessary hazard. Inexperienced cyclists trying to use it may indeed be intimidated, making them more likely to use other transport modes. (There is an alternative, quiet, route via Vine Street)

Meanwhile on the Tadcaster Road cycle path “social distancing” signs have appeared near the railway bridge. Fair enough, if a problem has been identified. Clearly more families are now walking or cycling to the Askham Bog nature reserve although social distancing on that site is also problematic.

Social distancing signs

Yet scarcely 300 metres further along the cycle path, its width is now reduced to less than 1 metre. Overhanging branches and weed growth are to blame (the weeds are actually now breaking up the bitmac surface) ..

A relatively easy issue to deal with but, despite reports to the Council, no work has been undertaken.

Cycle track obstructed.

Better news further down Tadcaster Road with highway resurfacing works now ahead of schedule. The smoother carriageway surface is much safer for users of 2 wheeled transport.

Tadcaster Road resurfacing due to be completed by 12th June

Fundraising needed for repairs to uneven cycle track.

UPDATE – Just as we published we got the following response from SUSTRANs

Yes, we are aware of the problem with this path either side of the York / Selby boundary and at time of heightened usage of all of our traffic-free routes around York due to the coronavirus lockdown.

We’ve done some initial estimating of cost for the whole section that needs resurfacing, which comes to £446,000 approx. – a sum that Sustrans on its own cannot afford as I’m pleased to see you recognise

However, Selby DC (copied in) also have this on their radar and have indicated a strong willingness to work with ourselves and City of York to find the necessary funding.

I’m in discussion with land management / estates colleagues within Sustrans to identify how much we may be able to contribute, and therefore how much is needed from LA partners / other funding sources.

The fact you’ve now raised this with relevant City of York councillor’s is very helpful. We’ll continue to bring all parties together to come up a with funding package that can deliver the necessary improvement as soon as possible.

We’ve suggested to SUSTRANs that they launch a crowd funding appeal to raise money for resurfacing parts of the York – Selby cycle path.  

The path is very uneven in places as a result of tree root damage. At one location, the roots have now broken through the bitmac surfacing increasing the hazards for cyclists and walkers.

Roots are now breaking through cycle track

SUSTRANS describe themselves as the custodians of the national cycle network. It is possible to make a donation towards their work via their web page but we think that a more focused campaign is needed if the York cycle path is to be properly funded.

The path has been heavily used during the health crisis with large number taking the opportunity to take some exercise in what is a relatively safe space. Many young children are getting their first taste of cycling on the track. It is the latter group for whom the surface represents a particular hazard.

SUSTRANs have yet to respond but we have had a prompt reply from Cllr John Galvin who represents that Bishopthorpe ward, in which part of the track is located. He has pledged his support for the appeal.

Any work would need to incorporate the use of root shields to ensure that any new surface continues to be useable for the foreseeable future.

Uneven path surfaces deter use

Many of the problems occur in the section between Naburn and Riccall. We hope that the Government and local Councils will back the SUSTRANs charity if they launch a crowdfunding appeal.

Hopefully some donations will come from the hundreds of new users who are currently enjoying the facility.

NB. It appears that no application was made for support from the York Council’s £500,000 cycling budget which was delegated to be spent by local ward Councillors.