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

Council report reveals over 60% wanted Bishopthorpe Road reopening

Council report 1st June 2020 Page 1
Council report 1st June 2020 Page 2

The Council has finally published the report which it says supports the decision to keep the southbound lane of the Bishopthorpe Road closed for at least another 2 months. The report became public yesterday (6th June) , some six days after it was tabled for a “behind closed doors” decision meeting.

It reveals that there is a lot of opposition to the Councils policy including a 1600 signature “on line” petition.

Both it and email representations were ignored by the Council.

No consideration was given to changing the hours or scale of the closure and no consideration was given to implementing a shorter diversion route.

There is no evidence that stakeholders – including traders and those living on the diversion route – were consulted about options.

The report talks about additional stores opening next week “resulting in increasing queue lengths”. It omits to point out that these are located on the west side of the road where properties have a forecourt.

Resurfacing works on Nunnery Lane will take place from Monday 15 June for seven nights, working between 7.30pm and 5am Monday to Friday only. This will mean an additional diversion for drivers, including buses, of around 1.5 miles via City centre streets.

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.

First Bus announces app update to live-track bus capacity

Pleased to see that First buses have been able to take up the suggestion that we made a couple of weeks ago that the available capacity of buses should be via a smartphone App. Hopefully the same information will also be displayed on street screens before very long.

First says, “This week we will be launching an update to our mobile app that will enable customers across the UK to live track not only the location of their next bus but also its available capacity, as we continue to develop ways to help customers social distance on board our fleet.

First Bus will be the first major bus operator to roll out live capacity tracking. This reduces uncertainty for customers and allows them to make informed decisions about their essential journeys. Going live this week, the app update will show customers a bus icon on a map depicting the live location and available capacity of each vehicle in the vicinity. This new functionality will provide customers with the information they need as the bus approaches.

The innovation has been made possible by First Bus’s new passenger counting functionality, announced at the end of May. Data from this system feeds directly to the First Bus app in real time. This app update coincides with First Bus doubling the number of buses operating across England from Monday 1 June, with support from UK Government. First Bus expects to be able to increase service levels across its networks in Scotland and Wales in coming weeks.

With social distancing guidance being observed at the same time as lockdown restrictions are being relaxed, this additional capacity will allow customers to travel in comfort and safety. To further support social distancing, and in addition to passenger counting, seats on each bus are now clearly marked indicating where customers should sit.

First Bus continues to encourage cashless payments, and use of the First Bus App to purchase mTickets, to reduce the need for contact between customers and drivers.

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus said “We are really proud to have been able to fast-track this technology to ensure safe, informed travel during these difficult times. Our buses provide an essential service for our customers and we are doing all we can to support them.”

This latest update from First Bus forms part of its ongoing work to improve the customer experience.
 

Apple store travel app link
Android store travel app link

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N.B: The app update will be available from Apple and Android app stores during the first week of June 2020 Dependent on individual phone user settings, the app may automatically update or require the phone user to manually select to update to the latest version 4.7

The app update is available to all First Bus app users in the UK and any customers downloading the app for the first time after the update will automatically have the live tracking functionality

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks. We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

Social distancing success

First York are using some of their Park and Ride “bendy” buses on stage carriage routes today including the number 4. This should increase capacity while allowing for safe social distancing. So far the plan seems to be working well.

Acomb Moor Meadow

Elsewhere, Acomb Moor Meadow has had its first cut of the season . This should make social distancing easier for the increased number of walkers that have been using fields like these for exercise during the health crisis.

A two metre wide strip has also been cut on Askham Lane (rural section) where this was practical. This should make safe distancing easier for those exercising in the area.

Less good news though on road safety. There was a bad crash on Bellhouse Way yesterday. No one was injured but some drivers and motorcyclists in west York seem to be using some roads as race tracks.

Accident on Bellhouse Way on Sunday

The police need to get on top of this problem as streets are set to become progressively busier with a proportionate increase in risk.

New safe travel measures on buses in York

Many Park and Ride services will remain closed

waiting for a bus gifs | WiffleGif

As schools and shops will begin a phased reopening in June, bus operators, rail operators and City of York Council are making changes to ensure that safe travel options are available for residents.

More buses and trains will be operating and appropriate health and safety measures will be in place to ensure that social distancing guidelines can be adhered to, which may mean reduced capacity on board.

To help support essential journeys, on peak times, please plan ahead and travel outside of the busiest times, particularly first thing in the morning.
Changes on board

Bus operators are putting in place new safety measures to protect staff and customers. These include reducing the number of available seats on board each bus, encouraging the wearing of face coverings, ensuring alighting passengers are clear of the bus before anyone else boards and keeping a safe distance when boarding.

Please be patient and observe all the safety measures when travelling.  You should not leave your house if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, including a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. There’s lots more information on how to travel safely available online.

Customer safety information will be displayed at bus stops. When queueing please maintain a 2 metre distance between yourself and other passengers. Additional measures may be put in place at stops to manage social distancing

To help prevent unnecessary contact, please use cashless payment methods, such as contactless debit cards, smartcards or M-ticket apps wherever possible. To help support essential journeys on peak time buses, normal concessionary travel rules will apply from Monday 1 June.

Bus passes will be accepted for concessionary travel only after 9am on weekdays and at any time on weekends, with the exception of blind persons who are permitted to travel at any time of day in York.

Bus operators and the council are working to update timetables as quickly as possible. Please note that due to the short notice nature of these service changes, some timetables on journey planning websites, apps and real-time information screens may not be updated immediately. Please visit bus operator websites for the latest timetable information.

Park & Ride:

  • Services 2A, 7 and 9 (Rawcliffe Bar, Designer Outlet and Monks Cross) will run every 10 minutes at peak times, 15 minutes during the day and every hour during the evening. A half hourly service will be provided on Sundays
  • Last Park & Ride buses from the city centre will depart at 10:15pm (service 2A), 22:45 (service 7), 8:05pm (service 9, Mon-Sat) or 7pm (service 9, Sundays)
  • The Designer Outlet car park remains closed until further notice- service 7 is using the same stop as service 415 (on the roundabout)
  • Services 3, 8 and 59 (Askham Bar, Grimston Bar and Poppleton Bar P&R) will remain suspended until further notice

Further information about Park and Ride can be found online. You can also find information about how to support social distancing by using Park & Pedal from Monks Cross or Rawcliffe Bar:

A summary of all bus service changes is also available. Rail service levels are gradually being increased. Please use contactless card payments wherever possible and note that most rail services now require seat reservations before travelling. For the latest updates visit train company websites:

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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of a Bank Holiday

The Good

Good work by volunteers has seen attractive flower beds established at the Foxwood Community Centre. The beds are “bee friendly”. Residents are being urged to recognise the needs of pollinators when selecting their border plants this year. Lists can be found on the RHS wen site and can be downloaded from these links;

Garden Plants click

Wildflowers click

Most garden centres have now reopened. In addition the Poppleton Community Railway Nursery charity is continuing to offer a service click for their catalogue There will be someone on the nursery at these times Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9.30 to 3.30. and Thursday 9.30 to 1.00. To avoid disappointment you can ring the nursery mobile 07800 501382 or the land line 01904 797623

Flower beds at the Foxwood Community Centre

The Bad

Less impressive has been the response in dealing with obstructions to foot and cycle paths. The Tadcaster Road cycle path has been reported on several occasions. As a result of weed and hedge overgrowth, it has now been reduced to less than 1 metre wide in some places (making “social distancing” more difficult).

Tadcaster Road cycle track obstructed.
Similar problem on another main access route into the City. The path on the A59 near Poppleton is obstructed forcing users to walk or cycle on the highway.

The Ugly

Sadly there has been an increase in fly tipping. Below is a country lane near Tadcaster photographed today (Monday). The tipping has been reported to the Selby District Council.

Catterton Lane

Car park size reduced

The Council, has decided to remove 100 car parking spaces from the Marygate car park. The spaces are those located near to the railway line.

The Council says that, by removing this row of parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to “social distance” more easily.

That may be so but there are other “pinch points” on this route not least the relatively narrow tunnel under the railway line which links to Bootham Terrace.

What is surprising about this and other ideas aimed at countering virus risks is that it has taken the authority as long as 10 weeks to bring them forward.

It then makes a unheralded announcement without any consultation.

The car park is likely to become progressively busier as shoppers and workers return to the beleaguered City centre.

The lack of an holistic plan to sustain the local economy is becoming a real worry for some businesses.

“Cut your hedge”, say York Council

The Council has tweeted today asking people to ensure that any boundary hedges are trimmed back from public roads and paths. They say this will help with “social distancing”.

The Council is right to do so.

Many people will have time to undertake the chore during the bank holiday weekend.

The Council also rightly asks hedge owners to be careful not to disturb any birds which may be nesting in the hedge.

Hedges overgrowing back lanes are a particular issue in some areas

Meanwhile there has been rapid grass growth this week with several verges and amenity areas becoming overgrown. We have reported several.

Some cul de sacs are in need of a “deep clean”
Weed growth in Holgate Beck could affect drainage flows during periods of heavy rain