Opening High Petergate

As of yesterday (03/03/2020) cycling down High Petergate during the daytime has been permitted for the first time in 20 years following a decision by the Executive Member for Transport back in October to approve a Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

Bootham Bar at the entrance of High Petergate
Bootham Bar at the entrance of High Petergate

Since the year 2000 High Petergate has been included in the city centre footstreets area and as such its use by all vehicles has been prohibited between the hours of 10:00 and 17:00. This is despite the street’s key location within the city’s cycle network linking the north with the city centre and east of the centre – the route has even been part of the national Way of the Roses route for the past 10 years.

Thanks to the order though, as of today cyclists will be able to travel south down High Petergate from Bootham Bar to Duncombe Place at any time of day. Motor vehicles will continue to be barred between 10:00 and 17:00 for pedestrian and cyclist safety. York Cycle Campaign sees this as a huge advantage in building a convenient and safe network to and around the city centre, as previously during footstreets hours cyclists had to take a diversion around St. Leonards Place past the busy bus stand outside York Theatre. Since the redevelopment of Scarborough Rail Bridge the Bootham route to the city centre has become an increasingly important section of the network, and will only continue to grow in importance with the development of York Central over the coming decade.

Safer for everyone

The idea of relaxing restrictions on a footstreet may seem dangerous to some, however analysis of STATS19 data (police records of reported collisions) shows that there have been no reported incidents of collisions along High Petergate involving pedal cycles since 2005 (when records start). By contrast there have been two involving motor vehicles, one of which occurred during the footstreets period. This pattern reflects the collision records across the rest of the footstreets area, where collisions with pedestrian casualties involving motor vehicles outnumber those involving pedal cycles 7 to 1.

A typical Sunday afternoon

In the report prepared for the Executive’s decision, results from a survey of the street found that during the footstreets’  restricted hours, approximately 30 cyclists per hour were using the street – possibly due to confusions caused by the automated entry sign which often displays the wrong message. The report also notes that during the survey no significant conflicts occurred between cyclists and pedestrians. Based upon this and the STATS19 data, the report concludes that risk of physical injury as a result of the change is unlikely.  

In the same time period there have been 8 collisions along St. Leonard’s Place in which cyclists have been casualties, so hopefully in providing the safer alternative along High Petergate, the numbers of casualties  will be reduced.

Trial Period

The experiment will be reviewed after 6 months, at which point the Executive will make the decision whether to extend the trial, make  it permanent, or abandon it. During the trial period a road safety audit will be undertaken, with feedback and comments taken from the public. You submit your own comments by emailing before the 2nd of September 2020. We’d also be interested in your experiences using High Petergate during the trial either in the comments below or on social media find us at @YorkCycle on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.