New station front plans put cyclists in danger, York Cycle Campaign says

York Cycle Campaign will today be urging the City of York Council Executive to direct that the planning application to overhaul York Station Front include a segregated cycleway northwards on Queen Street, as originally consulted on. Council officers by contrast are asking that they be allowed to remove provision for this segregated cycleway after consultation feedback from residents of the seven properties on this stretch, who reportedly feel they would be vulnerable to passing cyclists.

The pavement/segregated cycleway/car parking design as originally included in the Council’s proposals, as seen here in Copenhagen.

As our statement (see below) will make clear however, the existence of a pavement directly outside these properties would mean that residents would not be at risk. Rather, at worst they would simply have to wait for a minute or two on this pavement for cyclists to pass before being able to access their cars, just as they would have to wait for cars to pass before crossing the road to access a parked car on the other side.

Similar designs have been in place in York for years without issue, like this stepped cycleway on Poppleton Road

In the Campaign’s view, this minor, occasional  inconvenience for residents of these properties needs to be set against the significant benefits that such a segregated cycleway would bring to York: The DfT-commissioned ‘Propensity to Cycle’ tool forecasts that a segregated cycleway would double the number of cyclists using this route, from around 300 to over 600. This boost in cycling would in turn ease York’s congestion, air pollution, carbon emissions while also raising physical activity levels of its residents. As our recent organised ride for senior Councillors and disabled cyclists demonstrated, safe, traffic-free, often off-road routes are greatly preferred even by confident, experienced cyclists who are disabled. Consequently the provision of such routes by the Council is arguably required under the Equality Act 2010 and its accompanying Public Sector Equality Duty, which as the Equality and Human Rights Commission website makes clear, applies to transport. Failure to adhere to such requirements puts the Council at risk of legal challenge, as DfT’s Inclusive Transport Strategy notes. We therefore look forward to hearing the response of City of York Council’s Executive to our representations on this issue. Our statement follows below:

UPDATE (01/12/2018): In the event, although a couple of councillors spoke favourably about the segregated cycleway, and an officer appeared to confirm under questioning that segregated cycleways reflected appropriate guidance, the Executive chose to approve the officer recommendations without debate. The next stages on this issue thus will be  the submission of the planning application, and the decision by the City of York Council Planning Committee. We will be making representations at both stages.

York Cycle Campaign statement to City of York Council Executive Decision Session, 29 November 2018

Firstly we’d like to thank officers for taking on board the consultation feedback from the York Cycle Campaign and incorporating safer crossing points for cyclists at pedestrian crossings. However, the campaign is alarmed to see that the proposed removal of the segregated cycle path on the northbound section of Queen Street. We believe that the recommendation to remove the proposed segregated cycle provision puts the convenience of a handful of residents from Queen Street ahead of the safety of hundreds of cyclists.

If cyclists are forced to use this busy road at this point they will have to contend with the heavy traffic on Queen Street, including frequent buses, as well as deal with the danger of residents reversing their vehicles across the cycle lane. This arrangement is a far cry from the safe segregated cycle infrastructure that would encourage people from all walks of life to use their bikes.

By contrast the segregated cycle lane that was proposed on the original plans could expect to encourage an extra 300 cyclists to use this route every day (double the current number), according to the Department for Transport’s ‘propensity to cycle’ calculations. Children travelling to school, disabled people commuting to work, elderly people catching a train, women cycling home late at night: all groups that are currently intimidated by cycling in this area of York but would likely be encouraged to do so if safe cycle infrastructure was provided.   

With the originally proposed segregated cycle provision the residents of Queen Street would not be at risk of collision with a cyclist when standing on the pavement outside their property. Rather they might have to wait a couple of seconds for a cyclist to pass, before proceeding across the cycle path to their car. This can hardly be considered a huge inconvenience, particularly when compared to the immense benefits of reduced traffic congestion and improved air quality if more people are encouraged to cycle.

Furthermore, as accident data from York shows the risk of cyclists colliding with pedestrians is minimal (15 accidents have occurred in 3 years, none of which have resulted in fatalities) whereas the risk that cyclists and pedestrians face from vehicles is severe (483 cyclists and 205 pedestrians have been involved with accidents with vehicles in the last 3 years). And we note that the corners before and after this section of Queen Street mean that cyclists are not likely to be travelling fast at this section of road, reducing the risk of collision with pedestrians even further.

We ask that the Executive considers reinstating plans for a segregated cycleway along this section of Queen Street, demonstrating their commitment to sustainable travel in York, and ensuring that the safety of the most vulnerable travellers is put first.

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