We signed an open letter to City of York Council, asking them not to exclude Blue Badge holders from the city centre. We followed this up with a statement at the Executive meeting, where we asked councillors to seriously consider Blue Badge cycling in the city centre.
Thank you for giving York Cycle Campaign the opportunity to speak. We’d like to start by expressing our solidarity to Blue Badge holders. Whilst we are in favour of fewer vehicles on the foot-streets, the city centre needs to remain accessible for everyone. Currently many disabled people find themselves dependent on a car and it is not reasonable to withdraw access before putting suitable mitigations in place.
One such mitigation would be to allow ‘Blue Badge cycling’ and we urge the Executive to explore this option. Whilst it isn’t a solution for all disabled people – and other mitigations must also be explored – it can provide real freedom and independence to some. It also has the bonus of being low cost and simple to implement.
Executive members will no doubt have read the York City Centre Active Travel Access Survey carried out by Martin Higgitt Associates. It was very thorough and noted that the lack of a cycle route through the foot-streets presents a major obstacle for many potential cyclists such as those using cycles as a mobility aid, cycle couriers, people carrying small children or shopping on their bikes, and some women who feel safer on their bike (rather than walking or catching public transport). And the report concludes that the consequence is that it either discourages people from cycling – against local transport policy objectives – or forces cyclists onto more heavily trafficked routes, where there is greater exposure to injury.
Therefore, we’re greatly disappointed that officers have dismissed recommendation to trial a key two-way cycle link north-south through the foot-streets from Blake St to Parliament St, claiming that there would be an unacceptable level of ‘conflict risk’ between cyclists and pedestrians. There is no evidence to back this up, and indeed the collision data (cited by Martin Higgitt) demonstrates the excellent safety record on Deangate – a shared walk/cycle space.
In their summary officers even go as far as asking the Exec to “confirm the existing position that cycling is not permitted in the foot-streets during foot-street hours.” This statement is incorrect – cycling is permitted along High Petergate and Deangate during foot-street hours – and we would appreciate this being corrected.
York could and should be an excellent place to cycle. There is no reason that it cannot realise the benefits of cycling seen by cities such as Cambridge, where half the population cycle at least once per week. On the continent city-centre cycling is the norm. Next week the Cycle Campaign has invited the Deputy Mayor of Ghent to talk about how Ghent has transitioned to a thriving, successful low-car, accessible and people-friendly city. We urge Exec members and officers to come to the talk to gain a fresh perspective and to see what York can learn from Ghent.
Meanwhile, we ask that Exec members keep open the possibility of city centre cycling, and request officers to continue exploring options to improve cycle access to and through the city centre.
Could you help us deliver statements like this? If you’re a confident public speaker then we would love to have your help on this, you won’t need to be an expert on what you’re speaking on as we send speakers with a prepared statement that’s been drafted by others.