More than 8,000 local children to take part in Walk to School Week 2019

More than half of York’s primary schools will take part in Walk to School Week 2019, which runs from 14 to 18 October.

The national, awareness-raising event is staged annually and aims to encourage children and their families to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school, rather than travelling by car.

Locally, in excess of 8,000 students from 28 different schools will get involved. City of York Council’s iTravel team will present the Jack Archer Award to the school with the highest proportion of its students walking, cycling or scooting throughout the week, as well as cash to spend on sports equipment, which has been donated by Age UK. The Jack Archer Award is now in its sixteenth year and Age UK has supported the competition since it was first launched as part of its intergenerational work to encourage children to be more active.

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, the council’s Executive Member for Transport, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many local schools getting involved in Walk to School Week and competing for the Jack Archer Award.

“The council is committed to promoting sustainable forms of transport and it’s important that children are encouraged to adopt these habits from a young age. In addition to the health and wellbeing benefits for the children themselves, walking, cycling or scooting benefits everyone by reducing traffic congestion and emissions, and improving air quality.

“Good luck to all the schools taking part!”

Residents of all ages can find out more about sustainable travel options by visiting www.itravelyork.info.

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

Weather brings bumper free harvest of berries

Still problems with hedges and trees blocking cycle and footpaths

The weather has had one positive influence. Brambles have flourished and their is an abundant free harvest available at places like little Hob Moor.
Unfortunately the adjacent cycle track on little Hob Moor can now be added to the list of obstructed paths. We’ve suggested to the Council that they need to organise a “task force” to go round removing overgrown branches and weeds from paths. They’ll also need to monitor highway trees as several are now banging on the sides and roofs of double deck buses as they pass.
A task group might also usefully clean off signage which is now unreadable. This sign is intended to help disabled users to access Hob Moor.

This sign is on Bellhouse Way
One piece of good news though is that the bramble bush which was blocking the little Green Lane footpath near the school entrance has been cut back.

Residents views sought on making York an “age friendly” City

Partners working to improve York for its older residents have launched a consultation on getting out and about in the city.

The consultation has been launched at www.york.gov.uk/AgeFriendlyYork and will run until 9 August. This is a new step towards making the city more age-friendly and an even better place for older residents.

With around ten percent of York’s population aged over 65 – one third of whom live alone – the city has joined the UK network of Age Friendly communities which are linked to the World Health Organisation.

York aims to help older people live healthy and active later lives, that they are happy and are in good health while living in their community. Being an Age Friendly city means that older residents are encouraged to become active citizens, shaping the place that they live in by working alongside local groups, council and businesses to identify and make changes to the physical and social environment they live in.

In York, this will be done by working towards improving the choices older people have regarding how they can travel and where they travel to, how they spend their time and access information, the quality of their housing and services for older people.

The initiative is supported by the York Health and Wellbeing Board, and partners will work with City of York Council, York Older People’s Assembly, York CVS as well as local groups and businesses to engage older people and key stakeholders about their lives and to ask for suggestions to make the city more age friendly. 

York Central – where next?

Following the recent decision by the Secretary of State not to call in the planning decision for York Central , City of York Council says it will “now continue to maintain momentum across the York Central site with the decision to release the next tranche of funding for the project”.

“The Council will now engage with its construction partner in finalising the design work for the enabling infrastructure; this includes the access road bridge and spine road through the site, a pedestrian bridge on Water End and a rail link to the NRM”.

There is no mention of addressing the “elephant in the room”. That is the major outstanding issue. – cycle/pedestrian movement from Leeman Road to the riverside and the City centre

The early plan showed a shared cycle track still using the (appalling) Marble Arch tunnel (which still has no waterproof membrane). Vehicle movements would be traffic light controlled, with public transport one of the main victims

This simply won’t do.

The Council needs to find an alternative route possibly via a new tunnel built to modern standards which provides access to the green spaces next to the river while also providing a traffic free cycle link to the City centre and beyond.

Te Council must address this issue in its imminent submission of a Reserved Matters planning application to open up the site.

The planning application will be funded partly by Homes England and partly from the York Central Capital budget agreed by Council in November 2018.

A report to the Councils Executive next week also sets out what opportunities can be taken, moving forward, to maximise the benefits of the York Central site; including a greater proportion of affordable homes, higher sustainable build standards, inclusion of York Central in the Clean Air Zone and an option to build a new bus lane ahead of schedule.

A report, published today, sets out the key benefits already secured, including:

·         extensive pedestrian and cycle route provision into and through the site

·         20% of homes available at affordable rates,

·         the highest sustainable design standards , and

·         around £15m developer contributions to improve transport infrastructure to encourage more bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The report outlines that the council, while waiting for government decisions on planning and funding, will work with the York Central partnership to explore other measures to amplify these benefits.

For housing, this could mean a greater proportion of affordable homes, higher sustainable build standards and community self-build in early phases of the development.

To improve the environmental impact, the council could require sustainable energy generation on site, include York Central in the bus Clean Air Zone, increase the number of electric charging points and build a new bus lane ahead of schedule to increase more journeys by sustainable transport.

The report highlights the delays to the programme due to the referral of the planning decision to the Secretary of State, and the decision over an application for £77.1m to the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund. The report asks the council to allocate £750,000 to fund early contractor involvement to finalise a planning application for the bridge and spine road which will allow access to the site from Water End.


The York Central Partnership (YCP) members, Homes England, Network Rail, The Railway Museum and City of York Council, have been working collaboratively for the past four years to develop proposals and assemble a £155m funding package for infrastructure works to unlock the brownfield land. City of York’s Council has played a key role in providing significant funding streams to help deliver the project and fund the enabling access and infrastructure works.

York Central

The approved outline planning application includes proposals to build 2,500 homes, 20 per cent of which will be affordable, and a commercial quarter creating up to 6,500 jobs adding a £1.16 billion boost to the economy.

The Executive meeting takes place on 18th July. The York Central report can be found by clicking here.

Up a gear for cyclists in York?

There may be some new hope that cyclists will get a better deal from the new administration which is taking over at West Offices this week.

Both the LibDems and the Green Party promised better road surfaces in the City.

Potholes represent a particular hazard for cyclists.

There is talk of an emergency budget in June which would present an opportunity to rejig transport priorities.

We hope so.

In the slightly longer term, the Council needs to take a fresh look at its off road cycle network.

One notorious section in Acomb comes to a dead end in the middle of Front Street with no one apparently able to decide how to safely continue the route towards the Askham Lane and Foxwood areas.

In other areas stop gap measures, introduced 20 years ago, are still in place. These include the makeshift metal channels which were installed on the approaches to several railway bridges. They are supposed to make it easier for cyclists to push their machines up steep access stairways.

Bridge over Holgate sidings. Cycle access from Barbara Grove is steep. There is scope to construct a much gentler gradient.

In reality, it is often easier to carry the bike or – more likely – just take a longer and possibly more hazardous route using the ordinary road network

Traffic signals to be upgraded at Monks Cross junction

New traffic signals will be installed at the pedestrian crossing/road junction in Monks Cross this month, ahead of the new York Stadium and Leisure Complex opening later this year.

Outdated traffic signals at the junction of Kathryn Avenue and Jockey Lane at Monks Cross are set to be replaced by City of York Council.

Works will start on Monday 29 April and are estimated to take around four weeks to complete. The hours of working will be 7.30am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday and 9am – 3pm on Saturdays.

The new technology being installed will help to ease congestion in the area and enable the new systems to link direct to the council’s Traffic and Control Centre, so that Network Monitoring Officers can manage the flow of traffic better in busy periods.

As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption. Residents are assured that everything reasonably possible will be done to keep this to a minimum.

During the works it is anticipated that all bus services will operate as normal, however there will be delays when travelling through the junction. 

Temporary crossing points will be available at all times during the works to ensure that all pedestrian crossings that are currently available are maintained.  Traffic marshals will be on site between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week to assist with pedestrians crossing the road.

Residents are urged to plan ahead, allow more time for journeys on these routes and to consider alternatives and to use public transport where possible.

Bus services will be operating as normal for the majority of the works but passengers are requested to visit www.itravelyork.info/ for more information.

For information regarding the scheme during the works visit: www.york.gov.uk/KathrynAve

Huge York central development gets planning approval

A major development behind York railway station got the go ahead from the Planning Committee last night.

York Central site

It will provide hundreds of new homes and jobs over the next decade or so.

The site has been derelict, and mostly unused, for over 20 years. The progress made in bringing forward the site will probably be recorded by history as the major achievement of the current Council coalition administration.

The development is not without controversy.

The transport plans in particular lack the quality and imagination that many had hoped for. The developers will need to refine access arrangements from the City centre to Leeman Road particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Bus services must include a frequent park and ride link to off site parking spaces at Poppleton Bar.

Some courage will be needed if the site is to be declared an “ultra low emission zone”. Such a step would be an acknowledgement that the declaration of a “climate crisis” by the Council a few days ago was more than just rhetoric.

But overall the decision is a good one for the City, not least because it will reduce the pressure to build on green fields.

Hopefully we will see some development on site before the end of the year.

Lowfields residents update newsletter. Parking plan criticised as inadequate

The Lowfield Residents Group have criticised the Councils plan to provide only 2 alternative off street spaces to replace a parking lay-by on Tudor Road.  They are circulating a newsletter to affected residents (see below)

The existing 4 space lay-by will be lost when the Council, starts work on providing a new access road into the Lowfield site.

Part of the garden of an adjacent flat block (108 Tudor Road) is being used to provide 4 spaces but residents point out that Tudor Road, along with the adjacent Gale Lane, has on street parking restrictions.

This means that the Tudor Road bays are heavily used.  Occasionally drivers park on the garage forecourt opposite causing an obstruction.

More parking spaces are required.

At the other end of Tudor Road (low numbered) a communal housing experiment will see only 12 parking spaces provided for 19 properties. Some of the properties have 4 bedrooms. The occupants of similar properties elsewhere often have 2 or 3 cars.

All in all, we don’t think that the Council has got its transport and parking policies for the development right yet.

Ironically The Press is today running a story saying that life expectancy in the Westfield Ward is the lowest of any in the City.

We’ve pointed out to the Council that its relentless attack on open space and sports provision in the area is partly to blame.

Loss of the football pitch at Lowfields  is a major factor as is the threat to the bowling green on Front Street, the erosion of the Hob Moor playing field and the loss of the Kingsway all weather games area.

The playing field associated with Our Lady’s school has, of course, already been built on.

East Coast rail investment announcement doesn’t go far enough

The government have today announced funding for some improvement to the existing main line rail services in the region. The government claims that the work will see improvements to platforms, tracks, signals and junctions across the East Coast route. New Intercity Express trains will be provided and  the Government claims northern commuters will benefit from “more seats and faster, more frequent journeys between Doncaster, Leeds and Newcastle”.

Local Councillor Andrew Waller said, “A reliable and properly funded East Coast Main Line is pivotal to our region’s growth and any investment to the line is welcome.  However, the Government’s approach to tackle these problems in a piecemeal way is not a strategic approach to solving the current capacity problem.  This is only a small step in addressing the imbalance of investment, which is currently focussed on London and the South East of England.  (more…)