“I used to cycle to work, but I’ve given up now; it’s just too dangerous,” explained Zoe. A small group of us were watching cars hurtle by, trying to figure out how conditions could be made safer for cyclists and pedestrians accessing the village of Dunnington .
It was a cold and icy morning soon after Christmas when committee members Juliet and Kate went to meet with councillor Mark Warters, members of Dunnington Parish Council and local residents. We walked along York Road and bandied some ideas around.
York to Dunnington by cycle is a clear desire line – there are lots of commuters and school children wanting to access places of work and schools in York from Dunnington and from further afield, as well as leisure cyclists seeking access to the Wolds. There is suggested route via Murton but it’s indirect and flawed.
York Road is the most direct way into Dunnington from York but has no speed limit beyond national restrictions and blind summits. Drivers zip along at 60mph for much of the 500m or so until they reach the houses on the edge of the village, making it an intimidating space for cyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians have to trudge down the rough verge, whilst cyclists experience the thrill of close-passes at high speed. Amazingly this road is part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 66.
One member of our party explained how the local U3A group would like to be able to walk this way. Another person told us that students travelling to Fulford and Archbishop Holgate’s Secondary Schools could be seen cycling along the road each morning in a mini ‘peloton’ but the danger associated with this stretch meant that parents were taking turns to accompany the children.
For many years (over 20!), local residents have campaigned for a path by the side of York Road for pedestrians and cyclists to use and speed calming measures. The verge on the northern side of the road has utilities buried under it, making it difficult to convert. Instead our little group examined the verge on the southern side of the road. Cllr Warters has put forward the idea of laying a rough crushed tarmac planings track down this verge to create a safe path. At around 1.5m it wouldn’t be the widest, and with a rough surface it wouldn’t be somewhere to ride a racing bike, but on the plus side it is something that could be done quickly and cheaply (using ward and Parish council funding) and it would be a start.
The cycle campaign has previously put forward the idea of inserting a point closure on this road, which would reallocate road space to cyclists. Local residents were worried about the impact that this might have on the local bus service, and they weren’t keen on motorists being forced to use the other roads in and out of Dunnington, both of which don’t have traffic light controls and can be very difficult to exit at busy times.
During our walk we also talked about measures to reduce speed along York Road. Most people favoured a 30 or 40mph speed limit being introduced. Some liked the idea of chicanes or gates at the road-side as a visual reminder that motorists are entering a zone where pedestrians and cyclists are present and which leads into a quiet village.
We agreed to continue working together on a solution, and to ask others with more expertise in transport planning for their advice.
One thing Juliet and I concluded as we trundled home was that the Grimston Bar roundabout is another weak link in the route between York and Dunnington. The visibility is poor along the slip-roads, the paths are in shoddy condition, the traffic is very fast moving and there are little in the way of measures to aid pedestrians and cyclists. This weak link needs urgent improvement.
There are many in the village of Dunnington who are determined to achieve a safe and convenient cycle/walk route to York as soon as possible: the Cycle Campaign hopes that it can contribute to making this happen.