This article was updated on the 8th June 2018 to include a response from Cllr. Peter Dew, jump to that section.
Earlier this year the United Nations declared the 3rd of June would be recognised as ‘World Bicycle Day’ in recognition of the bicycle’s, and all other types of cycle, position as ‘a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation’.
On World Bicycle Day the UN calls upon all member nations, including the UK, to:
- devote particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies;
- improve road safety and integrate it into sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure planning and design, in particular through policies and measures to actively protect and promote pedestrian safety and cycling mobility,;
- emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace;
- adopt best practices and means to promote the bicycle among all members of society, and developing a culture of cycling in society.¹
To mark the first World Bicycle Day, we’re marking it by asking the City of York Council to commit to investing a greater share of its transport fund in cycle infrastructure, to reflect the high proportion of cycle traffic.
Our open letter to Neil Ferris, the Council’s Corporate Director for Economy and Place, and Cllr Peter Dew, the Executive Member for Transport and Planning, follows below:
Dear Neil Ferris and Cllr Peter Dew,
The United Nations has declared Sunday 3rd June to be ‘World Bicycle Day’, and here in York we are looking forward to celebrating the first official day of recognition for this popular form of transport.
As I’m sure you know for many people cycling is an important means of getting around our lovely city. Recent surveys carried out by the York Cycle Campaign show that on fair weather days cyclists constitute over one-third of the traffic crossing Lendal Bridge, and even on damp days cyclists make up one quarter of the rush-hour traffic over this busy bridge. Meanwhile the cycle counter on the Millennium bridge shows that an average of over 900 cyclists zip over this iconic York crossing every day.
However, our analysis of the Council’s Capital Programme for Transport 2017-2022 reveals that no more than 7% of this budget is earmarked for cycling (including the one-off investment to upgrade Scarborough Bridge). We are dismayed by the under-prioritising of funding towards York’s cycle network, and the persistent decisions at key junctions that sideline or even endanger cyclists. We believe this is preventing York from becoming the ‘Global Cycle City’ it is capable of being. The recent decision to remove a cycle lane on Station Road without adequate replacement (and despite the council’s own data showing that cyclists make up around one third of the traffic along this route) exemplifies the lack of commitment towards cycling in York, and retaining York’s status as a cycle city.
Back in the 1970s Copenhagen was in a similar situation to York. Around 20% of people cycled and the city was being blighted by traffic congestion and air pollution. The city decided to embrace cycling and invested heavily in its cycle infrastructure, to create continuous segregated cycleways, enabling everyone to cycle across the city safely, no matter what their age, experience or physical ability. This investment has paid off in a big way. Today 62% of people cycle to work and just 21% of people arrive by car. It is estimated that for every 1km cycled instead of driven in Copenhagen the city economy benefits ~1€. By comparison every 1km driven costs the city 0.89€.
York is often thought of as a ‘cycle city’, but in reality it is full of cycle lanes that disappear at the most dangerous points in the road, barriers that prevent easy passage for cycles, and a hotchpotch of cycle routes that fail to connect up. There are many areas of York, such as the eastern portion of Water End Lane on the city’s orbital cycle route, where only the most confident cyclists dare to venture. However, York has the potential to become a ‘Global Cycle City’, equivalent to Copenhagen, if the political will exists.
This coming Sunday, on the United Nations World Bicycle Day, we are asking City of York Council to commit to investing a greater share of its transport fund in cycle infrastructure, to reflect the high proportion of cycle traffic in York. We’d like you to ‘re-imagine’ York’s future, and to embrace a city that is convenient, safe and accessible for everyone, where cycling is the major mode of transport.
In the spirit of co-operation and increased understanding we ask that you meet with us to discuss our request. We look forward to hearing from you.
York Cycle Campaign
Response from Cllr Peter Dew
Thank you for your letter. I am certainly open to suggestions (and am looking forward to bringing my bike to the opening of the new Scarborough Bridge ramps) but have to bear in mind the need to cater for everybody. I have seen some impressive cycle provision in Rotterdam (and elsewhere) and would be delighted if all road users in York exhibited the same sense of responsibility, then we can all live and travel together in safety.Best wishes,Peter
The Campaign hasn’t yet received Neil Ferris’ reply but will update this page as soon as it is received.