One of the quickest – and cheapest – ways of reducing traffic congestion in York is to encourage more people to walk or cycle when making short journeys.
The promotion of cycling has been a Council objective for over 15 years. Encouraging more people to cycle has played its part in preventing traffic congestion getting worse in the City (despite what some may claim, journey times have actually changed little over the past decade).
FULL cycle racks in parliament Street
The last government provided the City with £4.6 million and an opportunity to make a major investment in sustainable transport. We think that the Council got its priories wrong when it spent over £1 million on a cycle path in the Clifton Moor area running parallel to the A1237. Several months after it was opened there is precious little evidence that it is being used to any extent.
There is a lesson for the Council in this.
FULL – Davygate cycle racks
People will use a bicycle for certain types of journey but they want off road cycle paths to be safe, to follow the shortest possible route and to end at a popular destination.
A few years ago the Council decided to route a cycle path around the perimeter of Hob Moor. There was a clear “desire line” running from Thanet Road to the railway underpass. It was argued that a cycle path running across the middle of the moor would have disturbed ground nesting birds.
However a few years later and, although the bitmaced path is well used, the desire line continues to attract large numbers of pedestrians as well as some cyclists.
Effectively the wildlife faced a “double whammy”.
If the Council seeks, and is allocated, more sustainable transport funding then it will need to be smarter about how it uses it.
One obvious deficiency is the lack of cycle parking in the City centre.
Empty market stalls
A convenient and secure place to leave a cycle will be a top priority for most cyclists. On days when the weather is fine there are few cycle rack spaces available. Cyclists chain their bikes to a wide variety of bits of street furniture. Inevitably some are vandalised and the wrecked bike often remains for weeks as a testament to neglect while posing a minor threat to passing pedestrians.
Unused area near M & S
To often parked cycles detract for the appearance of our historic streetscape.
There is, however, space available for more parking in many areas including the in the Shambles market area.
Limited use of market area
Demountable cycle barriers (which retract into the footpath when an area is required for a special event) are one option that could be trialled.
Investment of this sort is one of the most economical ways of encouraging people to leave their cars at home.
Cycle parking next to historic buildings
It merits the allocation of more resources than ill considered gimmicks like “congestion commissions”.