Video diary: cycling to school on York Road
I’m a parent. My daughter goes to Acomb Primary. She’s 6 years old. From a young age she has loved travelling about on daddy’s bike and she still does… come rain or shine, sub-zero or summer she smiles, sings, chatters away and when asked she’s always happy to come along (to supermarkets, local shops, hardware stores) as long as we are taking the bike.
I cycle (for transport) because I like passive exercise, it’s cheaper than owning a second car and I’d like to leave her a planet that is still ok to live on. Incidentally, my wife has a beautiful bike that she is too scared to use on York’s roads.
York Road funding
Back in 2020 I was thrilled to find out that the council had secured funding for improving active travel along the whole 1.5 mile stretch of York Road from the Fox Inn right out to Beckfield Lane roundabout.
This project has been delayed due to staff shortages and scheduled to go to consultation in January 2022 having filled the vacant roles.
Then guess what happens on 4 February 2022 – the Executive Member for Transport Decision Session report lands and this ‘very high priority’ project has been slashed by more than half, leaving the most dangerous stretch adrift, and with the whole project with no dates but TBC. It transpires that the abandoned section is being blocked for some future Acomb regeneration project (which I am all for) that has no detail, timeline or indeed funding as yet.
Here’s the thing, the entire stretch that has been abandoned is the exact stretch that we cycle to school. In this 2 mile round trip I have reported about 70 careless driving incidents in the last year. What this also provides is a visual record of all the dangerous sections that the decision makers therefore deem as acceptable.
Come ride with us on the school run
Here’s a tour from Beckfield Lane / Ridgeway roundabout towards Acomb – that’s only 0.5 miles… surely not much could happen in that space, right? Well here’s nine points where we frequently experience less than friendly driving, with video footage. I’m just going to repeat that NINE areas in just half a mile.
1. Beckfield Lane / Ridgeway roundabout
I see this roundabout pretty much every time I head out whether cycling, walking or driving. I’ve observed it to be a common occurrence for cyclists to take to the pavement to avoid it (NB there is Home Office guidance to say this is OK to do if it’s too hazardous and you are cycling carefully).
The main problem I’ve seen here is the stretch to / from Danebury Drive which is separated by central chevrons (aka go faster stripes), which are proven to encourage faster driving. As a result, a frequent occurrence here is drivers racing up to the roundabout and overtaking at the last minute.
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2. Pedestrian refuge in a big open space
Issues here are mostly westbound / uphill (although I have been overtaken on the wrong side of the refuge heading downhill, sadly no camera that day)… it’s just your typical chevrons (go faster stripes) encouraging motorists to overtake and duck back in.
3. Croftside / Croftway / Danebury Drive / The Green junction
Yes FOUR streets, two pedestrian refuges, a right turn lane and frequent bad parking that obscures the junction.
Cycling aside, I am astonished that Acomb Green (a play park) has NO pedestrian priority crossing at all anywhere. Kids have to look out past parked cars whilst other cars nip down the hill… it’s truly shameful.
Cycling through this junction it is often difficult to take primary position because the road (go faster stripes included) is so wide that drivers just speed up, overtake and cut back in. This happens at both pedestrian refuges and in between… of course there’s the occasional left hook (passing whilst indicating to turn off). The worst here was a flatbed truck’s flatbed going over my handlebars (warning: footage at this junction has made people spit out tea).
4. Up the hill alongside Acomb Green
There are obviously a few parked cars up here yet the road is still just wide enough for drivers to pass and some do indeed still seem to blast past super close even if traffic is coming the other way.
5. The brow of the hill / Inn on the Green
This is pretty much a blind bend. There’s a big slow sign which seems to signal one last rev of the engine to try and push past.
Equally coming the other way from Oak Rise roundabout, motorists frequently just cannot wait and try to get past. It’s a slow hill to ride up (at least on a heavy bike) and the road has stress tears (very rough surface) from motor vehicles meaning it’s not the most stable place for cyclists.
6. Between Inn on the Green and Oak Rise roundabout
Most of the issues here come about when going uphill… it’s a narrow road, and to safely pass (giving 1.5m) a car would need to go completely into the other lane. This does happen, but all too frequently not.
7. Oak Rise roundabout
The uphill entry points to this roundabout are not great on a bike – I’ve got enough leg power but I have witnessed cyclists struggle to get going from a standstill to get on the roundabout. Made worse with some drivers’ behaviour, like passing on the inside (left turn lane) only to go straight on.
8. Pedestrian refuge by Beech Grove
Heading towards town the traffic is usually at a standstill, here the problems are heading east where drivers seem to have to get in front at the pedestrian refuge.
9. Carr Lane traffic lights
Here we have a painted advisory cycle lane right in the car door zone… it’s pointless though because drivers just drift across it with no signalling or checking.
From here the road gets wider and yes, closed passed whilst right behind the York Cycle Campaign #SafePass bus and even witnessed another school dad almost get reversed into…but we can save those for another day.
What’s the take away?
Please, please speak up. Ask your local councillor why active travel isn’t being prioritised, and if you live in Westfield, Acomb of Holgate, or cycle through this area, please do ask local councillors why this particular scheme has been jettisoned.
Whatever area you live in, please be vocal – every voice that is heard adds weight to the activity of the campaign.
Get Involved as a Ward Representative
Are the cycling issues in your home ward that irritate you, that your feel are neglected, or you have ideas how improvements could be made? Why not become a York Cycle Campaign representative for your ward?
We help ward representatives build relations with local councillors and can help equip you with knowledge of the standards and legislation to make your point. Representatives can also help out by raising local issues to the attention of the Campaign.