York Cycle Campaign shared ideas with City of York Council
Last July City of York council set aside £500,000 to invest in cycling infrastructure. York Cycle Campaign has been in discussion with the council to think about how this money is best spent. Andy Vose, the council’s Transport Policy Manager, has identified a list of cycle infrastructure projects, and has developed a method to weight and prioritise them. Meanwhile, the campaign’s BIG group have drawn up their own list of ‘pinch points’ and used the same methodology to see how the projects compare.
This process has raised a number of questions for us. Our analysis suggests that the weightings used by the council tend to favour big projects, and focus on areas that are already well frequented by cyclists. This means that small and relatively inexpensive changes, some of which would make a huge difference to a lot of people, don’t reach the top of the list, and areas which have a high potential (but currently don’t see much cycle traffic due to the lack of infrastructure) are neglected.
We would like to see a ‘Bee Network‘ style approach to analysing York’s cycle network – the same method that is being used successfully in Manchester. We’ve been in touch with urban designer Brian Deegan, and he has been kind enough to share the Bee Network methodology with the cycle campaign. We are already putting this into practice in our collaboration with the transport team at the University of York, helping them to identify and improve the ‘Bee Network’ within the two campuses.
In February we met up with Andy Vose and Cllr Andy D’Agorne (Green councillor for Fishergate ward and Executive Member for Transport) to discuss some of the ‘pinch points’ that the cycle campaign had identified, and to talk about the methodology used to prioritise where cycle infrastructure money is spent. Below is a short summary for each of the points we discussed.
- Rougier St to Tanner’s Moat (tight turn when coming off Lendal Bridge). We suggested that this could be widened or the angle of the bend made less extreme, to accommodate adapted cycles and to make it easier for everyone. The council are keen to insert another bollard at this location, due to the problem of cars and mopeds using it as a short-cut. They are resistant to widening the area or changing the angle of the kerb as they believe that this might endanger pedestrians if cyclists approach the turning too fast. However, they are going to visit this area and assess it.
- St Barnabas barrier (the one on the riverside path, near St Barnabas church). The council were amenable to relaxing this, and said ward councillors would probably support this. However, they also informed me that ward councillors are looking at spending ward funding inserting a new barrier in front of the tunnel under Scarborough Bridge. Apparently this is because of locals complaining about people not dismounting from bikes and riding through the tunnel. We said we would prefer to see other measures used, such as painting ‘Slow’ on the approach to the tunnel, because barriers would make the route inaccessible to many cyclists.
- A59 Holgate Rd, turning right onto Dalton Terrace. We discussed the need for something to avoid cyclists being left vulnerable in the middle of a busy road. The council concluded that there wasn’t enough space to do anything.
- Hungate Bridge – suggested removing half of the bollards, to make the gaps bigger between bollards, and to paint a walk/cycle symbol on tarmac in front of car park to alert drivers to fact they are crossing walk/cycle route. The council were sympathetic to our concerns here, but have to balance the needs of all users. They will take a look at this area and see what kind of improvements might be possible.
- Stonebow – improving the crossing point for pedestrians and cyclists in front of the Hiscox building. We all agreed that it needed to be improved. Hopefully this will be looked at.
- Crossing racecourse road slalom. Apparently permission as been given to slice into the wooden barrier, to make it accessible for the cycling without age bike. But longer term Andy Vose said they were negotiating with the racecourse to divert this route so that it goes along parallel to Bishopthorpe Road and then comes down to join the path later, near the allotments. We raised concerns about putting a walk/cycle crossing up near the entrance from Bishopthorpe Road, and questioned how that could be considered safe. Sustrans are also involved in these plans, so it is probably worth the cycle campaign talking to Sustrans and trying to collaborate with them on this.
- Regent St to lights on Lawrence St. We’d like to see clearer demarcation between cyclists and pedestrians, but the council prefer shared space.
- Navigation Road – putting bollards in and closing to through traffic. This is something that Cllr D’Agorne would like to consider, perhaps as a pilot project initially.
- Fishergate – crossing from Blue Bridge Lane to Melbourne St. We said it wasn’t desirable to have the dog leg onto Fulford Rd, but we agreed that it was hard to see a way to resolve this.
- Fulford Rd – We proposed linking Alma Terrace with Kilburn Road using shared pavement to get to toucan crossing, and extending the shared walk/cycle pavement past the Police station to make continuous off-road route alongside Fulford Rd. This is something that Cllr D’Agorne is keen to do and he is already underway with scoping this project out.
- Lawrence Street traffic light island leading to James Street – again we’d like to see clearer demarcation between cyclists and pedestrians, but the council prefer shared space.
- Bootham park barrier (in Bootham park grounds, and on a key cycle route to the hospital). Unfortunately this barrier is not on council land so the council does not have much control, but they agreed it could be a key route and links to Scarborough Bridge etc, so worth investigating.
- Tang Hall Lane – junction onto Foss Islands Route currently very tight. We suggested widening the dropped kerb to make it less of a right-angle turning. The council resisted on grounds of pedestrian safety and wanting to make sure cyclists slow down before they cross the pavement.
At this point in the meeting we switched to look at some of the priorities Andy Vose has identified, including the creation of a new route across Heslington Green area. We argued that it would not be good use of money to spend a large amount on a new route here, particularly when the proposed route didn’t properly link in with the existing cycle infrastructure in the area. However, we agreed that there was scope for improving cycle movement in this area and we agreed to put the council in touch with the university transport team, to try and co-ordinate efforts in this area.
We also talked about some bigger projects, particularly ones that link up to outlying areas of York including Strensall, Wheldrake and Poppleton.
Finally we discussed the need for transparency in how the money was spent, making it clear how estimated costs were arrived at, and demonstrating that projects were good value for money. We shared some typical costs of cycle schemes in other parts of the country, and questioned why some of York’s cycle schemes appeared to be so much more expensive.
All in all it was a productive meeting and we hope to continue working with the council to refine the way in which the cycle network is assessed, and to develop a long-term strategy for improving York’s cycle network.