Campaign member Jamie has been digging a little deeper about why things are the way they are in York recently, taking it upon himself to start a FOI (Freedom of Information) Friday campaign of his own, as he explains below.
Are you fed up with cycle infrastructure in York? Are you perplexed that the council is not taking opportunities to improve cycle infrastructure? Are you concerned that despite warm words cycle infrastructure seems to get worse, not better?
If you answered yes to these three questions then me too. I answered yes to these questions some years ago now, and, perhaps more than most, the infrastructure really matters to me now. Cycling is now the only way I can move around independently and my confidence to do so on the road is a bit shaky, especially as we moved out of lockdown.
I may be disabled, but I’m also impatient, impetuous and a bit bloody minded. My frustration at warm words and no action finally boiled over earlier this year and I decided to think about what I could do to directly challenge the council over their decisions. I don’t want to — just yet — discuss everything I discovered but one way I was inspired was by an outstanding and freely available letter written by Heavy Metal Handcyclist (@CrippledCyclist), someone I follow on Twitter. The letter is available here.
The letter is a brilliantly written Freedom of Information request, originally written to challenge a barrier put in place by Warrington Council. Indeed it was so successful that it pretty much ended the story with the desired result (for Heavy Metal Handcyclist, at least). I was inspired to try the same approach with some of the inaccessible features in York. Every Friday I have been submitting a freedom of information request and tagging it on Twitter with #FOIFriday. The results have been fascinating, and best of all they are available to read for everyone.
I have three broad objectives;
1) Removal or modifying of existing barriers,
2) Improvement of policy regarding temporary works and,
3) Improvement of cycling infrastructure up to best practice whenever the opportunity arises.
I don’t feel these are unreasonable requests and my slight guilt at my single-minded pursuit of these goals has quickly faded with the incomplete responses I have received from the council and the incredulous commentary from followers on Twitter. Twitter has been an invaluable asset in this regard; it has enabled me to connect with some impressively helpful experts who are able to advise me on the appropriate questions to ask. For example you might like to see the discussion on the infamous Hob Moor barriers:
My requests are visible on the What Do they Know website.
Please read. Please copy. And please, please consider submitting your own request to understand why infrastructure is how it is. It doesn’t have to be.