Clean Air Day Protest: Open Letter

Make Space for Cycling protest outside minster to make

The following letter is being sent to York City Council:

We are writing to ask you why there has been so little progress on the Emergency Active Travel Fund Schemes in York? It is now nearly a year since the council was awarded over £850,000 of Government funding for active travel schemes in York and yet very few of the proposed schemes are in place. In particular we are greatly concerned by your failure to install safe segregated cycle infrastructure along Shipton Road and Bootham. We understand that detailed designs have been drawn up and that the main hurdle preventing the segregated cycle lanes from being installed is the reluctance of council transport engineers to sign off the design.

We have been informed that the reasons given for not signing off the design are minor and appear to be based on poorly researched and biased media reports. In addition officers appear to believe that the wands used for segregating the cycle path require additional road space (a misinterpretation of the Government guidance which the cycle campaign have shown to be false). 

Segregated cycle infrastructure along Bootham and Shipton Road would be transformational for the people of York, giving them real choice in how they travel, whilst significantly helping to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Last summer over 3900 people signed York 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. It is simply not acceptable that schemes such as this are prevented because of the prejudiced and car-centric opinions held by some members of the council’s transport team.

As you will be well aware there is a risk that the active travel funding will have to be returned to the Government if the council fails to install schemes that comply with Government guidance, and within the required timeframe (by March 2022). It would be unforgivable to let this funding go to waste, and to deny the people of York the many benefits that the active travel schemes will bring. 

Today, on the eve of Clean Air Day, we ask that the highways and transport team in York are given additional training from an independent source, to help them get up to speed on the new active travel guidance to ensure that the remaining active travel schemes can be implemented without delay. Transport officers from Bristol Council recently received active travel training from Brian Deegan from Urban Movement, helping them to implement higher quality active travel schemes. In addition we ask that a fresh pair of eyes is assigned to the Bootham and Shipton Road project, ensuring that it is implemented swiftly and safely. Creating a safe connected cycle network for York will reduce car-dependency and is accompanied by many co-benefits, including reduced traffic congestion, improved health, enhanced air quality and an attractive and thriving city.

We look forward to your response, and as always remain willing to work constructively with the council to improve York’s active travel offer. 

Kind Regards

York Cycle Campaign committee 

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