Emergency Travel Fund Letter

On Monday the 3nd of August members of the Campaign came together to protest against the apparent lack of suitability in the Council’s proposals for tranche 2 of the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF). The EATF is a pot of money that has been allocated from central government to aid local authorities in implementing improved walking and cycling infrastructure in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The fund is targeted at improvements for opportunities for social distancing on our streets and making active travel modes a viable method of travelling around the city to avoid a traffic meltdown of travellers switching to cars as access to public transport is limited.

In their application for tranche 1 of the EATF City of York Council were awarded £193,000, an extra 20% over their initial allocation, however there are grave concerns the application for much larger tranche 2 of the fund will not meet the requirements and a huge amount of additional money allocated for our city’s COVID-19 recovery will be lost.

As part of the protest, the Campaign delivered the following letter to the council raising our concerns of this potential wasted opportunity.

Dear City of York Council,

As you know the city of York has the potential to significantly boost walking and cycling across the city by tapping into the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund. Over £850,000 could be allocated to the city if the council puts in proposals that meet the funding guidelines, and implements those proposals within the specified timeframes.

However, we are greatly concerned that the council’s current proposals for tranche 2 fail to meet some of the key criteria laid out by the Government, thereby jeopardising the city’s chance of being awarded this significant amount of funding. Meanwhile the lack of action on a number of the tranche 1 schemes may endanger the impressive award allocated to York for tranche 1.

We note that of the 13 proposals put forward for tranche 1 one has already been revoked (Bishy Rd) and a significant number have yet to be started (segregated cycle lanes along Shipton Rd/Bootham, extension of city centre cycle parking, traffic restrictions on Navigation Rd, improvements on city centre bridges). We understand that the tranche 1 funding was conditional on work being started within 4 weeks of being awarded the money, and completed within 8 weeks.

Meanwhile, the council’s list of suggested proposals for tranche 2 fail to meet some of the key principles laid out in the Government guidelines including:
• Cycle infrastructure must join together, or join other facilities together by taking a holistic,
connected network approach (annex, principle 8).
• proposals need to be ambitious and effectively delivered (para 6).
• proposals need to “meaningfully alter the status quo on the road” (Para 7).
• all cycling schemes will need to include segregation or point closures (Para 7).
Furthermore, the guidance is clear that temporary schemes alone are insufficient, and that they are looking for proposals that will also help to deliver significant health, environmental and congestion benefits over the longer term.

Over 3500 people have signed the Cycle campaign’s petition asking the council to ‘make room for walking and cycling’. People in York want to cycle but for many this isn’t an option because it doesn’t feel safe. A cycle route is only as good as its worst section, and the proposals being put forward by the council fail to tackle some of the most difficult and dangerous gaps in the cycle network such as the city centre bridges and narrow sections along major roads. We’d like to see the Government’s Emergency Active Travel fund used to create some continuous segregated cycle infrastructure across York, with a focus on connecting outlying villages, creating routes to schools and enabling people to traverse the city by cycle. We are asking the council to have the courage to tackle some of the more challenging parts of the city’s transport infrastructure by reallocating road-space to cycling and using point closures to reduce vehicle traffic; both of which are measures recommended in the Government’s guidelines.

As you know the Cycle Campaign and Civic Trust assembled a team of experts, with the aim of assisting the council. We have produced a list of suggested tranche 2 proposals that would meet Government guidelines and we remain committed to working with the council to achieve the best possible outcome for our city. Time is running out but it isn’t too late. We ask that the council works with us, making use of the diverse knowledge pool that we offer, to put together a comprehensive and linked set of proposals for tranche 2, forming the start of a strategic cycle network and the beginning of a new era for cycling and walking in York.

With Kind Regards,
York Cycle Campaign

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