This newsletter is a mix of gloomy news, opportunity and inspiration. The Council still sits on well over a million pounds of funding for Active Travel and shows more inclination to put projects on ice rather than get them off the starting blocks. Figures suggest there’s been a big decline in cycle journeys in York over recent years. But the Campaign’s membership is on the up. It’s our AGM this month and we need to flex our muscles. Come along and show your support for the future of active travel in York.
Active Travel funds lie idle
Around £1.3 million earmarked for active travel projects is just sitting in the City of York Council bank account. As far as we can tell, not a single penny of it has been spent. Over half of it (£850,000) has been gathering dust there for more than 2 years. The fund is time-limited and if it isn’t used soon the Department for Transport will demand its return. We outlined this to Cllr Andy D’Agorne’s Executive Member for Transport decision session on 18 October, and were promised that a breakdown of the accounts would be forthcoming. But no assurances were made to confirm commitment to the current active travel projects.
And it gets worse … Active Travel projects to be put on ice
Most Active Travel Projects in York (including Bootham to Rawcliffe Bar, Acomb Road and the A1239) are expected to be frozen at the next Transport Executive meeting. Yes, frozen. Last February, the Active Travel Programme listed 30 schemes with a timeline that suggest most would start in 2022. For instance, the preliminary design for the Bootham to Rawcliffe cycle scheme was due to be completed by March, consulted on in May, decision in June and construction beginning in January 2023. What’s happened? Absolutely nothing that has been made public – not even the preliminary design. What on earth is happening in the council? Stop excuses and start giving us answers.
Big drop-off in cycle journeys
An optimist might want to believe that the reason for this horrific inaction on Active Travel plans is because cycling is booming in York without such support. Nothing could be further from the truth. The number of cycle trips made in York has fallen by nearly one third since 2014. A freedom of information request for cycle count data has revealed a 29% drop in cycling in York since 2014. Some areas of York have seen a shocking drop-off in cycling in recent years, with numbers of cyclists using the A1237 Rawcliffe Bridge nearly halving over the last 5 years. As vehicle traffic has increased routes like this have become less and less safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Sadly this vital connection, which is a key route to Manor Secondary School, is one of the active travel schemes that has been put on ice. Feel free to take a look at the sorry data for yourselves.
Remember our AGM: Monday 21st November at 7pm
Our AGM has already proved so popular we’ve had to move it to a bigger venue (York Sports Club on Shipton Road). And, having reached capacity again, we’re hoping to upgrade to a larger room, so watch this space. Our guest speaker is Brian Deegan from Active Travel England. We’ll also be giving you a sneak preview of our very own manifesto: 42 ways to transform York. You can attend either in-person or, we hope, online. Is anyone able to assist us with AV for our zoom broadcast of the AGM on the night? If you have reliable equipment that you can lend for the evening and/or you can help us set it up we’ll be eternally grateful! Whether you want to attend physically or virtually, please use our Eventbrite link to book your ticket.
Pre-AGM appetiser: what is Active Travel England?
YCC member Dorinda Gear followed the Active Travel England meeting with the Government Transport Committee in September and shares her take on what role this new Government Agency will play. Her blog about the meeting is the perfect read before we meet Brian Deegan – Head of Inspections at Active Travel England – at our AGM later this month. Spoiler alert: the Committee questioning referred to “new Prime Minister Liz Truss”, which identifies almost the hour of the meeting…
Organised Cycling: Grōni Ecological Decorators
One of our corporate sponsors is an ecological decorating outfit that has recently started a pilot using cargo bikes. Read about the inspiration and passion behind the idea to help de-toxify a profession that often carries a heavy environmental burden.
Time for a celebration!
This month we gained our 250th member! Welcome to everyone who has joined recently. It’s great to see the campaign growing so fast. Please keep spreading the word: the more members we have, the stronger our voice.
Member profile: Dorinda – unlocking York’s untapped potential
And to give you an insight into one of those 250 members and why she joined the Campaign, you can read a profile of Dorinda Gear and her visions of how York could serve cyclists better.
It was great to meet face-to-face again, and remind ourselves why we campaign. Many thanks to members who have taken on new roles within the campaign. And if you weren’t there but are interested in becoming more involved then do drop us a line, or come and have a chat at the AGM.
Opportunities for action:
Outer ring road planning application
We’re putting together a response to the plans to dual the outer ring road and recommend that members submit individual responses to the plans too (closing date Thursday 10th November).
Tower Street Crossing
City of York Council are asking local residents and users of the inner ring road section of Tower Street, adjacent to St George’s Field, for their views on the proposed installation of a new signalised pedestrian and cyclist crossing between the entrance to St George’s Field car park and Castle Mills Bridge. Let them know your views in this short survey. (closing date Monday 14th November)
Better tell Shell
In October, York Cycle Campaign joined over 1100 organisations and signed an open letter asking British Cycling to drop Shell as a long-term sponsor. For decades, Shell has worked to undermine climate action, lobbying governments to delay regulation and denying the science of climate change. The letter has now been converted into a petition, which anyone can sign. We encourage you to have a read and to sign the petition.
This month we’ve also …
… attended an initial stakeholder meeting for consultation on the Council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Watch this space for more news on this, and requests for member input.
… given feedback on plans to install build-outs on Carr Lane in Acomb (share the YCC response)
… responded to the consultation on cycle-bypasses for the build-outs on Skeldergate.
Call to COP27
We’ve signed this open letter to attendees of COP27, asking governments to invest more in walking and cycling to achieve climate goals and improve people’s lives.