April 2021 Newsletter

We’re now fully into spring, so time for us all to shake off the cobwebs and get out in that April sunshine (or even showers). We have some ideas for leisure cycling to share, and updates on diversions that you might need to be aware of. Read our responses to recent planning consultations. And member Jamie shares the potential and pitfalls of his attempts to get the Hob Moor barriers changed.

Bootham junction consultation: our response

We made it clear in our consultation response [link] that in our opinion neither of the proffered options for Bootham Bar went far enough to protect cyclists. We asked the council to rethink the design and use the junction assessment tools in the latest Government guidance (LTN1/20) to bring this junction up to the standards needed to enable all cyclists to be comfortable using this junction. 

A59 consultation: our response

Our conclusion was that the A59 is far too dangerous for cycling in its current form. In an ideal world we’d like to see cycle infrastructure all the way between York and Knaresborough, but we’ve also identified a few locations that are worth prioritising because they create links between villages and have the potential to enable children to cycle to school and commuters to cycle to work. You can see our detailed response here [link].

Safe cycling to Dunnington: getting there?

We have been working with Dunnington Parish Council and Cllr Mark Warters to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians on the approach to Dunnington along York Road. With huge thanks to Tony May (Chair of the Civic Trust Transport Group) and members Tim Pheby and Paul Osbourne, all of whom helped to design the scheme, the parish council have now put in a request to City of York Council for a new road layout that provides safe space for cyclists and a verge side path for pedestrians. The Parish Council have offered to part-fund the scheme, and it is likely that ward funding could be used to fund the remainder. We’ll keep everyone posted on any progress.

Challenging barriers

Our member Jamie, who uses his cycle as his primary mobility aid as well as a way of exercising, has been repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to cycle around York. The inaccessible barriers onto Hob Moor proved a particular issue, and in December he told us about the Freedom of Information request he’d put into the Council. Now he updates his story, and gives advice on how you can follow his impressive example

Your vision for York Central

Do you have a vision of how you want York Central to be – a cycling utopia perhaps? Anyone wanting to influence the development might like to join these YoCo events. York Central Co-owned (YoCo) started life as My York Central: a 2019 festival of public engagement and events looking at ways to develop the York Central site as an urban extension to York City Centre.

Looking for a cycling buddy?

Gerri has recently moved to York from Leeds, and is looking for cycling companions. Her ideal ride is 30-40 miles at 10-12 miles per hour with a café stop en route. If you’d like to join her – and know some good cafés! – please contact  us at YorkCycleCampaign@gmail.com and we’ll put you in touch.

And a reminder that York Bike Belles have a free programme of cycling and walking activities for York residents of all ages and abilities – a great way of meeting cycling folk.

Leisure trails to try 

Rob Ainsley has kindly allowed us to share his ‘Riding York’s Monopoly board’ cycle ride. Enjoy the trail and Rob’s acerbic commentary.

If you’re up for something more physically challenging, you could try all or part of the Cathedrals Cycle Route which links the 42 C of E cathedrals in England. It includes a 35-mile stretch from Ripon cathedral to York Minster and another the same length from the minster to Bradford cathedral.

Update: Clementhorpe flood scheme 

Due to complications in setting up the works compound, the 12-month Terry Avenue closure is not now expected until at least 26th April. 

Update: Wellington Row closure

As reported in the March newsletter, the Environment Agency need to close the riverside path (NCN 65) passing underneath Lendal Bridge and going past the City boat club (Wellington Row) for four months in order to install new flood gates. We’ve been in conversation with the EA and the council over their proposed diversion and have also collaborated with Sustrans and the TransPennine Trail to find safe ways of diverting cyclists around this busy part of York.

Currently it looks like cyclists travelling southbound will follow a route along the edge of Memorial Gardens and will then be given push-button lights to get them across the gyratory, before turning left down Tanners Moat. Northbound cyclists will be directed up Tanner Row, across Rougier St (with dedicated lights), along past the council offices and then push-button lights to get them onto the gyratory, to go over onto Leeman Road and then turn right to access the river again through Esplanade car park. The attached map [link – Jan 21] shows the route.

We’ve also asked for a linked and signed route to join the Terry Avenue and Wellington Row diversions together, for anyone cycling along the NCN 65. This would avoid people being sent down to the river after one diversion, only to discover they then have to start another diversion….

Membership perks

Did you know that YCC members are entitled to affiliate membership of Cycling UK? This costs £28.00 a year saving £20 on a normal individual membership. As well as helping Cycling UK campaign for better cycling across the county, membership entitles you to third-party insurance although please note it excludes the legal assistance, magazine, and voting rights of the normal individual membership.

To take up the offer visit the affiliate member sign-up page and enter the affiliate number from your welcome email when you signed up to the Campaign. If you can’t find you welcome email, or it’s an older email without the number, get in touch at YorkCycleCampaign.Membership@gmail.com

And finally … Fire engine of the future?

CC BY-SA 3.0: Michielverbeek

The fire brigade in Breukelen, Netherlands intends to jump onto electric bicycles next year (in Dutch) to fight fires or help in accidents. The switch from traditional fire engines is because the sole bridge across the river is being replaced and for four months only a pedestrian and cycle crossing will be available. But who knows, maybe the fire officers will discover it’s a good way to carry out some of their work in the longer term?

Taking Legal Action on Barriers

In December campaign member Jamie shared with us details of a Freedom of Information request he put in about the inaccessible barriers at Hob Moor. Now he updates us on what happens since, and how you can follow his lead.

I have Multiple Sclerosis. My walking range is now a matter of metres, but I can still use a cycle, which is now my primary mobility aid and way of exercising. Cycling with a disability during Covid times has been a mixed experience. On the one hand the roads have been quieter, but on the other hand the traffic on the roads has been faster, and shared walk/cycle paths have become far busier. Meanwhile, Covid measures have meant that I can no longer do the more exciting supported cycle rides that I enjoyed previously.

A year and a half ago I added stabilisers to my bike, and three months ago I shifted to a trike. Switching to a non-standard type of cycle has made me more reliant on good quality and accessible cycle infrastructure. I’m unable to dismount and push now and my cycling range has reduced. Being able to get to as many places as I can within my radius became more important than ever.

With this backdrop in mind, I’ve now become frustrated with my local council. Over the past three years I have tried very hard to engage with my council and work constructively and reasonably to improve cycle infrastructure. The sum total of my achievements is to have helped to get one post moved almost a metre. It’s an important metre and a particularly annoying post, but still. In the same period of time, we’ve seen awful infrastructure put in, cycling levels flatline, keys paths closed and blocked at a moments notice, and decisions made that will cripple cycling in York for many years to come. In short, being seemingly reasonable got me nowhere.

I decided to take a different approach, not to be mollified by promises of consultation or reviews and see where things got me. I started complaining. Let me focus on one particular incident in the hope that others can pick up the baton and be encouraged to do likewise.

In October 2020, wanting to cycle further, I set off for a local green space known as Hob Moor, following a cycle route recommended by the local council. Now I did know there were barriers on the way but I wanted to see if I could get through on my new stabilised cycle. Nope. Firstly, there was no way I could get through the extraordinary footplates which defend this beautiful open space – I would be grounded on them, probably damaging my cycle and stranding me. I might have managed it with a kamakazesque run at them, with millimetre perfect aim and a F1 style braking manoeuvre to cope with the looming cattle grid, but that would not have been either safe or sensible.

Jamie lines up for attempt at the ramp

Second, there is bypass gate, locked with a Radar key. I brought mine with me. It quickly became clear I would not be able to manage it. That’s because getting through this gate requires reversing at some point and my cycle can’t reverse unless I get off and push. In order to unlock the gate without dismounting I have to get into a position which makes it impossible for me to then get through the gate. In short, they are not designed with someone who is disabled in mind and independent access is impossible unless you can get off and push, i.e. you are able bodied.

Jamie demonstrates why the gate with radar key is not a suitable alternative

I retreated and went home. Next is a to do list of what I did next.

Freedom of information (FOI) request: This can be publicly seen on the website whatdotheyknow.com, but I can’t claim credit for it: it is lightly adapted from the brilliant letter made by Heavy Metal Handcyclist on Twitter (@crippledcyclist) and there are some important bits of it that I didn’t fully understand when I submitted it that turned out to be crucial.

What I expected to happen: the council to put it hands up, admit the problem and put it right on a clearly stated timescale.

What actually happened: I received a perfunctory response that, at best, partially answered some of my questions. This seemed to me to be an opening gambit to try and grind me down into giving up. Remembering my moto “being seemingly reasonable gets you nowhere”, I moved to the next step.

I now followed Doug Paulley’s brilliant website and his Disability Attitude Re-adjustment Tool (DART). I wholeheartedly recommend this, but there are a few details later which I think are important that may be unique with transport issues.

Letter before Action (LBA)

My letter can be freely used as a template. I’ve removed some of the more personal bits but summarised what they say. Essentially you send a letter to the other party indicating that you intend to take action and on what basis, clearly stating the timescale by which you expect a response. The FOI request I sent asked where an LBA should be sent and so I sent my LBA to the address the council had given me.

What I expected to happen: the council to put it hands up, admit the problem and put it right on a clearly stated timescale.

What actually happened: Nothing. I mean literally nothing. After I had already proceeded to the next step, I received an email saying that due to an internal mistake it hadn’t been received and could the council have more time. I still don’t know whether there had really been an internal mistake, or whether they didn’t really believe I would go through with it, but as it happens, I had already moved the process forwards when I received this email so I couldn’t give the council more time, even if I’d wanted to.

Now the next step. I was already firmly in territory I hadn’t expected to get to.

Issuing court proceedings

This is where things get a little more complex and I made some tactical mistakes which I will lay out clearly here so others don’t repeat them. Once again, my particulars can be freely used  as a template. I’ve removed some of the more personal bits but summarised what they say. I’ll go through this in a bit more detail. You need to register on the relevant website which is fine, make the claim and then issue particulars). The bit I made a mistake on is on how much, and what to claim. For many using the Equality Act (2010) who are entitled to legal support this is simple – choose the maximum amount (£10k at time of writing) and tick the box for an injunction. If you are not entitled to support – the position I was in – this will cost you money (just over £600 for everything) and more complicated, you are not protected from the other parties costs if it does end up in court. This is where I wavered: I calculated what I would reasonably expect to receive rather than go for the full amount. This turned out to be important. I also didn’t go for the injunction. In retrospect, without the safety blanket of legal aid to underwrite costs this was probably a good thing.

What I expected to happen: the council to put it hands up, admit the problem and put it right on a clearly stated timescale, or to go to court and force the council to do something.

What actually happened: days before the deadline the council offered to just pay me off. My attempt to negotiate for change rather than money was rebuffed. This is where the mistake I made came to the fore. I can only argue that the council should provide what I would reasonably expect in court, in my case only a smallish amount of money, because that’s all I ticked and with no injunction to force them to change. After a bit of helpful input from others I reluctantly accepted. One good thing: no non-disclosure clause, hence this article.

So, what have I learned? This was easier than I expected, writing the letters is the hard bit, but hopefully providing templates here will take the sting out of this for others, just as Heavy Metal Handcyclist’s letter did so for me for the FOI. Crucially, if you can you must go for the maximum amount, not because that’s what you expect to receive, but rather it’s sets the floor for what the other party needs to do to prevent it from reaching court. If you are offered what you expect from court and refuse, then, you could be viewed as vexatious and achieve nothing. And if you are not supported by legal aid be aware that you are potentially liable if it goes to court, especially for an injunction, and you lose. Nonetheless I maintain that being seemingly reasonable gets you nowhere: I wavered slightly in my intent, the barriers are still there and I still can’t cycle independently to Hob Moor. I don’t like adopting this attitude but it seems the only way, for my local council at least, to make something actually happen.

A word on the barriers themselves at Hob Moor. I am well aware that the purpose of these barriers is to prevent motorcycle access, but this needs to be balanced with the needs of disabled access. And balanced is the word. These barriers, or more specifically the footplates, were bespoke made in 2007 and no equality impact assessment has ever been done on them (from what I was able to determine) despite that being a legal requirement under the DDA(2005). No balance can ever be achieved if the impact is unknown. And then any balance must be achieved with a combined assessment of harm, evidence and enforcement. Simply placing barriers which break the law can only be described as equivalent to vigilantism.

I absolutely encourage anyone to take action using the Equality Act (2010) to do so. I was reluctant at first, but a quote of Doug Paulley’s stuck with me, I paraphrase – those of us with the capacity to pursue these things have a responsibility to do so in order to enable others.

Mandatory disclaimer; I am NOT a legal expert. This is not legal advice, merely my opinion and shared experiences.

Fix Your Bike Vouchers

The Government has brought back its Fix Your Bike Voucher scheme, offering a voucher for use towards cycle repairs up to the value of £50.

  1. Apply for a voucher of up to £50 on the Fix Your Bike website when vouchers become available.
  2. Find a Fix Your Bike Voucher Scheme-registered bike mechanic to repair your bike using the map of participating bike shops and mechanics.
  3. Bring your bike in to your chosen repairer to be fixed, using the voucher to cover up to £50 of the total cost of the repairs needed.

Be quick, as vouchers are limited and previous releases have been taken up quickly.

Repair shops accepting the vouchers in York (as listed on the Government website at time of writing) are:

Evans Cycles
Monks Cross Shopping Park

Haxby Cycles
York Road, Haxby

Evans Cycles York

Cycle Heaven
York Station/Bishopthorpe Road/Hospital Fields Road, Fulford

Cycle Culture Ltd
Rose Street, Clifton
Mobile mechanic service available

Foss Islands Road
0330 135 9779

Go Outdoors

CycleStreet (York) Ltd
01904 655063

York Cycleworks Limited
Lawrence Street
01904 626664

Poetry In Motion Cycles
Franklins Yard, Off Fossgate

Recycle York
Dixons Yard, off Walmgate
01904 848141

Get Cycling CIC
Hospital Fields Road, Fulford

March 2021 Newsletter

The March newsletter brings you up-to-date with what’s happening with the Clementhorpe flood alleviation scheme, and why we told people to get off their bikes. It also explains how to send in your response to the new consultation on proposed changes to the Bootham/Gillygate junction, planned for later this year. And you can also join in a Cycling UK campaign to suggest suitable routes for conversion into cycle paths. And, in the hope of more spring sunshine to come, tips on cycling when the sun is low in the sky.

Clementhorpe flood scheme

On Monday 1st March the Environment Agency started work on the Clementhorpe flood alleviation scheme. Terry Avenue will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists throughout March, whilst the preparatory work is done, but will close from around 1st April for at least twelve months. The cycle campaign has continued to engage with the Environment Agency and council but unfortunately we still have grave concerns about the scheme. With very great regret we have felt the need to warn cyclists to avoid the area during working hours, resulting in the following press coverage from YorkMix, York Press, and Road.cc.

We’ve drawn up an interactive map of what’s proposed in the latest Construction Traffic Management Plan, and the diversion routes proposed. We’re also continuing to discuss further mitigation measures with the council, and the council have agreed to pursue the following actions:

  • Review of options for improving the Scarcroft Rd crossing.
  • Review of potential to make use of Millfield Rd rather than Thorpe Street as route.
  • Review of using St. Benedicts Road route rather than Swann Street as the signed route
  • Investigation of options for the provision of a monitoring CCTV camera for the Bishopthorpe Rd/Butcher Rd junction to enable turning movements to be observed at key periods during the construction phase and checked against the Construction Traffic Management Plan.
  • Review of the potential for warning signs at the crossing positions.
  • Review of the layout of the bollards at the end of Butcher Terrace
  • Changes to the bollards at road closure points on route to ensure sufficient width available.

We appreciate that some of our concerns are being taken seriously by the council but we are concerned that these actions will not provide suitable mitigation by the time Terry Avenue is closed.  As a result we are investigating other means of addressing these issues. If any members can offer any legal expertise then we’d very much value your help. 

Bootham junction consultation

Another consultation for you to take part in, if you haven’t already! The deadline is 31 March 2021, this time for Bootham Bar junction.

Works will take place later this year on the Gillygate, Bootham and St Leonard’s junction as part of the Traffic Signal Asset Renewal (TSAR) Project. Currently, the council is proposing two possible designs but there is little obvious benefit for cyclists in either proposal. Option ‘A’ is the simplest design with least change. Option ‘B’ would provide more pedestrian space and allow for an ‘all green’ pedestrian phase across all arms of the junction. 

In your response, you might want to include the following points:

  • the bus stop on St Leonard’s Place exits into the cycle advance stop area, leaving cyclists vulnerable to buses
  • the cycle lane on Bootham leaving town should be continuous round the corner from St Leonard’s Place where there are already issues with close passes from vehicles turning left 
  • there is a gap in the cycle lane from Gillygate towards St Leonard’s Place
  • the pedestrian waiting areas at both sides of Gillygate are too small for the number of people often waiting there

Maybe the Council needs to consider a more radical alternative, and consider bus-only or one-way options for Gillygate.

Cycling in a Medieval City: second chance to see the talk

Last month we were delighted to welcome Simon Munk from London Cycle Campaign to come and talk to us about Cycling in a Medieval City. Simon’s job includes lobbying City Hall and TfL for more and better cycle schemes, scrutinising major projects such as “Cycleways”, “Liveable Neighbourhoods” and “Safer Junctions”, and providing technical expertise and campaigning tactics where needed. If you missed the talk you can watch it on our YoutTube channel

Those who walk in York to get their voices heard

Roger Pierce and transport guru, Prof Tony May are founding a new group ‘WalkYork’ to represent residents who walk to get from A to B, for leisure, or to appease their dog. It will sit alongside other interest groups like ours, to give those who walk round York as part of their everyday life a louder voice in consultations. WalkYork will operate via IT platforms, notifying members of proposed schemes so views can be collated and presented to decision-makers. WalkYork wants to work with the grain of local institutions and to join the policy community as a ‘critical friend’. Early soundings show that council officers welcome this new group.

Membership is free. To join, please email walkyork2020@gmail.com giving your name, email address and telling us the areas of the city for which you would like to learn of proposals.

Roger and Tony also want to form a small, diverse steering group including younger people and a good gender balance. They particularly need someone to refresh the website and/or maintain the membership records. If you’re interested in the steering group, email rogermpierce@gmail.com or phone 078 414 79 699.

Top tips: see and be seen in a dazzling low sun

Although we welcome sunny days, at this time of year the low angle of the sun can be dangerous, blinding cyclists and motorists alike. 

To stop yourself being dazzled (and maybe developing a headache) you might want to get a suitable pair of sunglasses. As well as cutting down glare, they also stop insects and other small specks getting into your eyes, and reduce how much your eyes water if it’s windy. Be careful that the lenses aren’t too dark, or that – if they’re photochromic – they react quickly enough to changes in the light. If you’re often out in low light conditions (eg commuting early morning and late afternoon) you might want to consider cycling glasses. There’s a lot of choice out there, but be warned – some of the prices will make your eyes water. You could also wear a helmet with a peak (several are sold with detachable peaks) to act as a sun visor.

Your other main consideration in these conditions is to make yourself as visible to the motorist as possible. A very bright, flashing rear light will help draw attention to you and similarly, a pulsing front light (which does not need to be as bright as for night riding because it’s not illuminating your route). The colour of clothing isn’t so important because you’ll tend to show up as a silhouette, but you might want to choose bright colours that aren’t white or (since it’s not good in the dark) black.

The missing link(s)

Cycling UK is running a campaign to get more of Britain’s network of trails converted into cycle paths and is asking people to fill in their map and note where these paths exist. Head over to the Cycling UK missing links site and add any you know of.

City Centre Cycle Access

On Tues 9th February the council’s Executive Member for Transport considered a proposal put forward by the  York IWGB couriers’ union to allow courier cyclists some access to the city’s foot streets. York Cycle Campaign spoke in support of enabling some cycle access to the city centre, but sadly the council rejected the proposal. We are continuing to explore ways in which cyclists can gain access to the city centre and remain committed to finding a way to make this happen. 

NCN 65 safe for the time being

We were concerned to see the planning application for Northern House (the new ‘Roman Quarter’ proposal on Rougier St) included pedestrianisation and shared space for part of the NCN 65 riverside route and Tanner’s Moat. Cristian spoke on behalf of the campaign at the planning meeting and explained why we felt this aspect of the design was not suitable. Our concerns were discussed at the planning meeting and the plans for Northern House were rejected by the planning committee. 

Wellington Row closure

We understand that the riverside path passing underneath Lendal Bridge and going past the City boat club (Wellington Row) will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists for 4 months starting from the 1st April. This is to enable the Environment Agency to fit new flood gates. Some months ago we asked the Environment Agency if we could be included in discussions about suitable diversion routes for cyclists. They said they would contact us nearer the time but haven’t contacted us as yet. We will continue to pursue this with both the council and Environment Agency and will make the case for safe and accessible diversion routes being provided for the duration of the works. 

Barracks Path to open again

After one month of closure the Barracks Path (linking Fulford Rd with Walmgate Stray) is due to open again on Monday 8th March.

Terry Avenue Closure: What’s Happening

If you have travelled up Terry Avenue or across Millennium Bridge this week you’ll have noticed that works to form the construction compound for the Environment Agency’s flood defence works for Clementhorpe. This is in preparation for the main works, and closure of Terry Avenue for 12 months, starting from the 1st of April. So what exactly is happening? And what do you need to know if you travel through this area? We’ve gone through the Environment Agency’s Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) and outlined the key points on how it will affect cycling in the area.

Struggling to view the map? Try viewing it in Google My Maps instead. All information is taken from the EA’s CTMP, except for identified hazards which have been added by the Campaign.

The new compound under construction

From 1st March

  • Construction compound constructed in the playing field at the southern tip of Rowntree Park,
  • Material storage and staff parking will be in the compound with vehicle access via Butcher Terrace
    • Deliveries to compound for vehicles 7.5t and up restricted to between 09:30-14:30 Mon-Fri during school term time, 09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri during school holidays, and in exceptional circumstances 09:00-1300 Saturdays.
    • Deliveries by vehicles less than 7.5t restricted to 09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri, and in exceptional circumstances 09:00-1300 Saturdays.
    • All deliveries restricted on Race days
  • A new temporary road and junction to be created to allow motor-vehicle access up Terry Avenue during works,
  • Car parking on northern side of Butcher Terrace to be suspended with offset parking outside the parking,

From April 1st

  • Site works on Clementhorpe to begin,
  • Terry Avenue as a north-south route closed to all vehicles,
  • Construction traffic to access site via Terry Avenue,
  • Public motor-vehicle access to Roomzzz, Caravan Park, and Rowntree Car Park diverted via Butcher Terrace and Terry Avenue,
  • Pedestrians diverted via Bishopthorpe Road,
  • Cyclists diverted via New Walk/Lower Ousegate or through South Bank/Bishophill.

You can find out more information about the proposals from the Environment Agency’s York Flood Alleviation Scheme website, including contact details if you want to find out more.