City of York Council are currently consulting on what the city centre might look like in years to come through the My City Centre York program. As part of this questions are being asked on what access to and around city centre could look like. The following events area being held over the coming month (June 2021) which we’d encourage you to take part in:
But what might access through the city centre for cyclists look like? Here’s an initial proposal that the Campaign have been developing over the past year through conversations of our own with different groups.
A 6-month trial to relax cycling restrictions on the footstreet route highlighted in blue. For residents and visitors alike, this cycle route will enhance access to the heart of the city and support travel across the city too. This bold vision for our city will improve accessibility, enhance the economy and improve safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.
The route outlined follows some of the widest footstreets in York. All of these streets have pavements and kerbs, providing a clear edge to the cycle route and a cue to pedestrians (which includes wheelchair users, people with visual impairment, mobility impairments and deaf people) as to where to expect cyclists.
YCC is advising strategic deployment of street rangers in the first weeks of the proposed trial to ensure that cyclists, pedestrians and couriers “share with care”. The York cycle courier’s union supports this trial and has drawn up a code of conduct for its members.
The case for city centre cycling
Data gathered during 2020 by York BID showed that over one third of the spend came from people living within 10km of York. Many of these journeys could be, and are, made by foot or cycle.
City centre businesses benefit from city centre cycling because:-
A cycle-friendly city centre attracts more people to visit.
Cyclists are loyal customers and typically spend more than those that arrive by car.
A report commisioned by the Department of Transport revealed that cycle parking generates five times higher retail spend than the same area of car parking.
The same study also showed that cyclists visit local shops more regularly, spending more than users of most other modes of transport.
Many people find cycling easier than walking. For those with restricted mobility (including parents with small children, people carrying heavy loads and people with an injury or health condition that limits their mobility) a cycle can be a key mobility aid. A survey carried out by the charity Wheels for Wellbeing in 2017 found that 69% of disabled cyclists find cycling easier than walking.
Safety: cycles make sense
Despite popular belief, collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are very rare. Between 2015 and 2019, there were 11 collisions between cyclists and pedestrians in the centre of York, only one of which resulted in serious injury. Over the same time period there were 89 collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians, one of which was fatal and 13 of which resulted in serious injury. Further to this, there were 131 collisions between motor vehicles and pedal cyclists, 16 of which resulted in serious injury. 99% of pedestrian collision deaths involve a motorised vehicle.
In the city centre, cargo-cycles are a far safer way of moving things around. E-cargo-cycles can carry significant loads (up to 300kg), making them a realistic alternative to delivery vehicles. They’re an efficient way of moving freight and have a competitive advantage over cars and small vans, particularly for ‘last-mile’ deliveries. Data gathered by London based PedalMe cargo couriers during September 2020 show that their cycles had an average moving speed of 15km/h: faster than York’s peak-hour traffic.
Our city, our future
Any changes to the city centre need to be considered within a wider context and take into account the needs of local people, businesses and city centre stakeholders in a collaborative way. Cycle access overlaps with business interest, accessibility, heritage and road safety to name but a few.
Conservation of public health along with York’s unique and fragile historic environment can be best served when motorised vehicles have limited access to the city centre and cycles allowed greater access.
It’s in all our best interests to support this trial. It’s our city and our future, after all.