There’s Room On Piccadilly

Photo credit: Richard Lane

The Campaign is speaking at an Executive Member for Transport Decision Session today (17th May 2022), at which proposals are being put forward for the redevelopment of Piccadilly as part of the Castle Gateway Masterplan. Whilst it’s great that this part of the city is getting some much needed attention the proposals being put forward don’t meet any of the national guidance for safe cycle infrastructure, a fact acknowledge in the proposals themselves! Following a well attended protest on Saturday, campaign member Jamie Wood is delivering our comments on the proposals, and how they could easily be improved to better the scheme.

York Cycle Campaign first raised concerns about cycling provision in the Piccadilly area three years ago, and raised them again in June and August 2021. The Council has had ample time to come up with a solution to enable safe cycling in the Piccadilly area – one of the widest roads in York – yet still officers continue to recommend outdated and substandard designs. The plans fail to address our concerns. The plans fail the Council’s own stated commitment to the transport hierarchy. The plans fail to meet Government guidance for cycle infrastructure design. 

Piccadilly is a key desire-line into the city centre and its attractiveness as an active travel route will only increase once the My Castle Gateway masterplan is implemented. It is therefore vital that provision is made for safe cycling, along with careful consideration to the needs of disabled people and Blue Badge parking provision. 

Since 2017 the Council’s own traffic counts demonstrate motor traffic on Piccadilly has increased significantly, while cycling rates have plummeted. The reasons are simple: their data shows Piccadilly being used as a cut through, in contravention of existing highway regulations, there are wide ingresses encouraging drivers to turn without giving way to other road users and there is a total lack of cycling infrastructure. 

Given the volume of traffic, the provision of safe cycling in the Piccadilly area would – according to LTN1/20 – require the provision of light segregation. Piccadilly is one of the widest streets in York and could accommodate LTN1/20 compliant light cycle segregation alongside adequate pedestrian provision and space for buses. 

The Council’s suggestion of exploring an alternate cycle route is not acceptable, as it violates the first two principles of Gear Change – the Government’s vision for cycling and walking – are that cycle routes should be coherent and direct.  

If the Council fails to take action to ensure safe cycling in the Piccadily area, Active Travel England (who will shortly be based in York) will want to understand why the Council has failed to implement an LTN1/20 compliant scheme on a key radial route into the city centre. Once again, the Council is failing in its duty to provide real alternatives to car use in York. 

It is thereby failing in its commitments to net zero, alongside the health, social and economic improvements that increased active transport and reduced car use would bring to the City. 

We would also like to draw attention to the proposal for a footbridge over the railway line between Copmanthorpe and Bishopthorpe. This should be delayed until York has an LCWIP and LTP, because the footbridge could be an essential component of a key strategic active travel route between the two villages. It is vital that the possibility of a cycle-friendly and fully accessible crossing be explored prior to this opportunity being effectively lost.

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