May 2020 Newsletter

A car speeds past a handmade 20mph sign on Bishy Road

As lockdown and social distancing continue, read about our ongoing lobbying of the Council to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians. On a lighter note, discover how our online quiz night unfolded and read our regular features Wheel Spiels and Organised Cycling. Plus, an animal-themed cycle trail around York for you to follow.

Pop up cycle lane part of York’s piecemeal Covid-19 response

Ride through of the COVID-19 temporary cycle lanes on Tower Street

In response to calls for safer spaces for cyclists and pedestrians during the Covid-19 crisis, York has created its first pop-up cycle lane on Tower Street. Much needed as the volume of motorised traffic on our roads tends to be edging ever-upwards even before the beginning of the end of lockdown. But not particularly useful as cyclists have to negotiate busy road to get there, and are flung out onto a narrow bridge on exiting it. We understand that the council are paying to keep roadwork cones in place  after recent lane closures there. But in providing a cycle lane to nowhere it seems like a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

Other measures also seem piecemeal and poorly thought through. We’re shocked that cones have been scattered along both side of Bishy Road, blocking the cycle lanes and making an already narrow two-way street even narrower. We assume that the council put the cones there in response to concerns about social distancing space for pedestrians. However, the action provides virtually no improvement for pedestrians and instead significantly increases the risk for cyclists.

We’d like to see some joined-up, strategic thinking to tackle the unusual mobility problems brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. There seems to be a lack of appreciation of risk, or indeed an understanding of how long this crisis is likely to last (failing to make simple temporary adjustments to barriers). 

These are the recommendations we made to the council a week ago:

See our blog about other routes we would like to see adapted for safer, socially-distanced movement around our city here. If you haven’t already, you can sign our petition to the City of York Council by following this link.

Online ‘pub’ quiz great success

Here’s you host for the evening

Rob Ainslie writes: Online quizzes have become a defining feature of the world in spring 2020, and now YCC has embraced the Zeitgeist.

We’d intended to run one earlier in the year in the old-fashioned way, meeting up physically in something called a ‘pub’ (ask an old person). However, Storm Ciara militated against that, so on Friday 24 April we ran the quiz live online as a Zoom presentation.

Over the course of two very sociable hours, about 20 members competed for some valuable prizes, sourced from local businesses by one member who also supplied many of the questions and photos on which the quiz was based.

The evening was compered by Robyn in a sparkling performance – not only her informed, wry and witty commentary and questioneering, but also her glitterball clothing, one of the exuberant series of dresses she’s been donning during the lockdown.

The four rounds of 40 questions explored some of York’s quirkier sights (e.g. the full-size plastic cow outside the Whippet Inn), embraced popular culture (e.g. Katie Melua’s sloppily unsourced claim of there being 9m bicycles in Beijing), and celebrated the entirely positive contribution of the bicycle to the world, from its pence-per-km net benefit to the economy to the World Naked Bike Ride. The questions were illustrated in full and exciting detail, though thankfully not much detail in the case of the latter.

The deserving winners of a keenly-contested evening were Nicola and Andy Normandale, who will receive two top-of-the-range state-of-the-art water bottles*. (Yes, really: they’re insulated so can keep hot things hot or cold things cold, and are highly reflective so provide extra visibility, not just for cars but evidently from space.) The prize will be specially couriered by bicycle.

Thanks to Rebecca for compiling the questions, Gavin for doing formatting behind the scenes, and Robyn for being quiz show host and all who helped make the evening such a lot of fun. If this is a glimpse of the future then it’s not so bad. And as far as I know we all got home OK.

*Thanks to Ison Distribution for donating the Passport Frostbrights (reflective, insulated water bottles for bikes) as prizes.

If you’d like to have a go at the questions, we’ve uploaded them onto our Twitter feed as a moment.

Wheel Spiels: Cycling during social distancing

Many of us have been plunged into the unfamiliar situation of working from home during the current “lockdown”. This has brought all sorts of challenges, from keeping in touch with work colleagues to juggling demands from children and other household members or coping with isolation. Those of us who commute by bike have lost one of our main forms of exercise. In our latest Wheel Spiels blog, Angela Harford of Pryers Solicitors tells us about the joys and benefits of commuting by bicycle, and how she managed to adapt once this enforced exercise was taken from her.

Organised Cycling: Move the Masses

In normal times, York-based Move the Masses is dedicated to creating healthy communities by enabling people to improve their wellbeing through exercise. But in these times of shielding and social distancing, they are connecting people with the medication they need. Read more here.

York Menagerie Bike Trail

Thanks to Rob Ainslie for putting together a 14-mile cycle trail (shorter options possible) featuring 13 animals from bears to unicorns in the form of figures, statues and monuments in and near the city centre. Find a map indicating the location of each animal here and a route map showing the full version of the trail here.

Rob has kept his trail feline-free since there are plenty of cats on York’s Cat Trail.

In Other News

Rufforth Primary School are using their bike shed as a cycle donation station. Families can donate pre-loved bikes (cleaned and disinfected first) for people who need them. Contact us if you know of any similar schemes and we can give them some publicity in the next newsletter.

Cycle Heaven have advised us of changes its opening arrangements. Due to staff shortages, the only outlet now open is on Hospital Field Road. Revised times: Open Tues-Sat: 9am-1pm for walk-in retail service and sales. Also: 1.30-3.30pm (close at 4pm) for bike sales only, by appointment

Help us entertain you! Wheel Spiels and Organised Cycling are new regular newsletter feature showcasing different perspectives on cycling. Please contact us if you want to share your story or If you know of a business, organisation or individual with a cycling story to tell. Email

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s