Inclusive & Disability Cycling In York

Our new report identifies more than 30 instances of York cycle infrastructure which do not comply with the Equality Act 2010. It comes with the warning that if City of York Council does not step into gear and rectify the problems, they will be forced to take legal action, which could end up with the council having to forkout as much as £50,000 for every person that pursues action via the small claims court. 

The report, Inclusive and Disability Cycling in York details non-complaint infrastructure across York and details many types of disabled-friendly cycle infrastructure that a welcoming and inclusive city like York could adopt. 

York proclaims itself ‘a cycling city’ and proudly claims ‘York has an extensive network of off-road cycle paths and on-road cycle lanes for cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy’ but this is simply not the case. The report highlights multiple barriers that disabled cyclists face in York, including physical barriers, narrow and dangerous cycle lanes and lethal junctions.

When faced with legal action in the past. York Council has chosen to simply continue with this discrimination and offer complainants out of court settlements. Earlier this year the council were challenged over the inaccessible nature of the barriers at the entrance to Hob Moor. The council chose to pay an out of court settlement but leave the barriers in place, leaving themselves open to repeated claims in the future. Paying out of court settlements is of little to no help to disabled cyclists who simply wish to access our city on a level playing field with everyone else. If legal action were taken on all the issues identified in the report it could leave York’s council tax payers with a bill of up to £50,000, per claimant.

The report’s author, John Skelton, has considered legal action but prefers to highlight the issues and has provided solutions in this report and hopes to work proactively with the council to see these illegal barriers removed. 

Speaking on behalf of York Cycle Campaign, report author John Skelton said:

“York has a poor recent record for disability discrimination, removing blue badge parking and access to the city centre and even barring disabled councillors from meetings. Failure to address these issues is an embarrassment to our city and risks long-term reputational damage as well as costly legal action. 

“We call on City of York Council to work with us and adopt the simple actions identified in our report to redress this discrimination against York’s disabled residents.”

You can download a copy of the report here.

July 2021 Newsletter

This month, read about our June protest cycle – successful in terms of turnout and we wait to see if it will be equally successful in achieving our goals. Also, calls from both us and the Council to let us have your views – you know you love filling in those surveys! And for those of you wanting to pack in pedalling, more news on the e-bike/e-scooter front.

Terrific turnout for our mass cycle ride for cleaner air!

We were delighted with the turnout – and the weather – for our Clean Air Day protest ride on 16 June. At its peak we had over 85 riders with us. We cycled from Clifton Green down Bootham, did a city centre loop then headed out over Lendal Bridge and Bishopthorpe Road, finishing at the Millennium Bridge. You can find coverage in YorkMix and an article in The Press, and the protest was also mentioned on BBC Radio York, Greatest Hits and That’s York. 

Whether or not you attended our mass ride, we’re interested in your views about the effectiveness of such action. Please fill in our very short survey.

City centre cycling route

We’ve been working with other organisations and stakeholders to put together a proposal for a city centre cycle route which we released to coincide with the City of York Council consultations on the future of the city centre.

We’re still discussing the route with stakeholders, but we’d love to hear what cycle campaign members think too so please let us know your thoughts on our proposal.

 “Big conversation” on key themes: have your say.

The Council has launched a consultation on core strategies for carbon reduction, transport, and York’s economy. It’s really important that people respond to this and highlight concerns about cycling. The council says it can take up to 30 minutes to fill in, but you can leave it partway through and complete later if necessary – please make the time to ensure all views are heard. 

News from York City Council

Julian Ridge provides his regular update from the council. This month, he introduces us to two new staff members: Shoaib Mahmood and Hannah Chivers, who will be working on various aspects of the Active Travel Fund schemes. Julian is also keen to hear from users of Tadcaster Road to feed into improvements to the pedestrian crossings and cycle routes (having spent long periods waiting at the crossing to/from Little Hob Moor I say not before time). 

Ward rep scheme

We’re looking for members who might be willing to be cycle campaign representatives for city council wards across York. It could be the ward you live in, the ward you work in, or the ward you regularly cycle through! We’d like to try and have representatives covering every ward in the city, helping us keep an eye on planning applications within their ward and maintaining a link with ward councillors. Could this be you? If you’re interested please let us know by registering your ward on the member’s hub.

Autumn manifesto

This autumn we’ll be publishing our manifesto. We’re excited about the potential for cycling in York and looking forward to sharing our ideas for how we make that happen!

“Try before you buy” e-cycle scheme

Congratulations to the city council for being awarded government funding for an e-cycle “try before you buy” scheme. The cycle campaign wrote a letter of support to accompany this bid and we are delighted that the council was successful. 

Tiers of Joy?

A row of e-scooters and an e-bike

Intrepid member Rob Ainsley tries out the Tier scooter and e-bike, and chats to Tier representative Jess about how the trial – now extended till 2022 – could change the face of travel in York.

Book review: Bike Nation

Our reviewer describes this book as excellent – and its subtitle is “how cycling can save the world”. 

And in other activity … 

This month we’ve also: 

  • met with the developers to discuss cycle access across the Bootham Park development, 
  • had a zoom discussion with the developers for the Mecca bingo site on Fishergate (take a look at the plans for Rialto House and add your thoughts
  • taken part in the City Centre consultation walk-about 
  • met with Cllr Hook and representatives from the council and Manor School to look at how cycle access around Manor School can be improved 
  • written to our MPs (Julian Sturdy and Rachael Maskell) to ask them to use their influence to ensure that 24/7 accessible walk/cycle access is maintained along the route of Leeman Road when the NRM builds its extension
  • campaigned for late access to the rail station from Scarborough Bridge
  • talked to David Dunning on YorkMix Radio about York’s latest shameful cycling statistics
  • met with staff at McDonalds on Blake St to discuss a city centre cycle route.

Road closures 

Wellington Row remains closed with diversion routes via Lendal gyratory. 

Marygate: https://twitter.com/EnvAgencyYNE/status/1397499458959589376?s=20

Terry Avenue: https://yorkcyclecampaign.bike/2021/05/15/terry-avenue-closure-17th-may/

Terry Avenue closure: access update

The road closure on Terry Avenue will be extended southwards, past Clementhorpe Junction, on Monday, 5 July 2021. This will mean that all traffic, including motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, will be unable to access Clementhorpe Road via Terry Avenue, from Monday onwards. The Environment Agency plans to have some personnel on site on the day to talk to pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles that are affected by the road closure and who may be unaware of the extension to the road closure. 

Please do continue to report any problems you spot. You can contact the community liaison officer, Aimee Ramsden, (Aimee.Ramsden@jnbentley.co.uk) or drop in and see her at the site. Also copy in the Environment Agency (yorkfloodplan@environment-agency.gov.uk), York Cycle Campaign (YorkCycleCampaign@gmail.com) and if it is a breach of planning conditions then please report it to the Planning Enforcement team (planning.enforcement@york.gov.uk).

National Petition

A national petition is being run on the governments petitions website to ‘Run a public awareness campaign to address driver aggression toward cyclists’. The petition has already gained 18,000 signatures triggering a written response from the Government. If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures the subject will be considered for debate in Parliament.

The petition states that ‘The Department of Transport should run a national public awareness campaign to educate motorists about dangerous, inappropriate and aggressive behaviours that can lead to the injury and even death of cyclists. The attitude that cyclists should not be on roads needs to end.’

If you would like to sign the petition, or read the written response, you can do so on the petitions webpage.

Increase Your Chance of Getting Your Cycle Back If It’s Stolen

Are your cycles registered with Bike Register? Bike Register is the UKs largest database of cycles and is used by police forces, including North Yorkshire Police, to help return stolen cycles to their owners. A new update to the database now lets users to publicly mark their bike as stolen, and the general public report that they’ve seen it for sale. If you’re buying a bike second hand, you can also check the frame number or Bike Register ID to make sure it’s not been previously stolen.

Book Review: Bike Nation

Authour: Peter Walker
Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2017
ISBN: 9781911214946
Available as paperback and e-book

I can highly recommend this book: it makes the case for cycling (environmental, health improvement, social justice) in a clear, accessible and non-preachy way. It’s an easy and quick read with useful facts and great quotes. The book is particularly good on cycling and culture – why cyclists are often treated as an outgroup and the worrying tendency towards victim blaming. 

You don’t make cycling safe by obliging every rider to dress up as if for urban warfare, or to work a shift at a nuclear power station. You do it by creating a road system that insulates them from fast-moving and unpredictable road traffic. 

This would be an excellent book to have to hand when debating the merits of cycling… and if every councillor and transport officer at CYC would read this perhaps we’d have the cycling infrastructure we deserve in York…

Why are more cities and nations not building the sort of bike networks proven time and again to get many more people cycling and then keep them safe? The answer, as ever, is a toxic mixture of vested interests, inertia and a lack of political vision, much of it fuelled by damaging and pervasive myths about cycling and cyclists.

For politicians the message is clear: be bold. Build the lanes. Block off the back-street car cut-throughs and rat runs. Don’t take half-measures, as they will end up pleasing nobody. And remember, if you show sufficient vision and push through some decent cycling infrastructure, then it will be used, and by more people than you can imagine.  

CoYC Update June 2021

The Sustainable Transport Manager Julian for City of York Council, Julian Ridge, gives us an update on the latest cycle news from the council.


Well, the summer continues and, at CYC, we continue to work on delivering the various active mode schemes in York.

First of all, two new project managers have started here in June, and they will deliver the Active Travel Fund schemes.  Shoaib Mahmood, whose background is in active mode design on highways, joins us from consultant Jacobs.  Shoaib will be taking forward the Active Travel Fund schemes on Bootham, Shipton Road and Acomb Road, as well as working with Greg Morgan (introduced last month) on smaller schemes such as Navigation Road.

Hannah Chivers has joined us after stints at Southampton City Council, Sustrans and Cycling UK.  Hannah will be working primarily on the Active Travel Fund schemes which are not straight highways schemes – particularly the cycle path between Heslington and Wheldrake, the Carr Lane schools people streets scheme and the scheme in the city centre to improve walk routes between the car parks and pedestrianised area in the heart of the city.  

Of course, the Active Travel Fund is only part of our active mode programme at the moment, and we are also working on a scheme to improve cycle routes and pedestrian crossings on Tadcaster Road – forming part of a Transforming Cities Fund project.  We will be consulting on this scheme in August – please keep a look out for the material and feed in.  We would particularly like to hear from you if you are a regular user of Tadcaster Road, either on foot or by bike.

Thankyou also to those of you who have taken part in the workshops on city centre access – either for mobility impaired people or looking at access for cyclists.  Martin Higgitt Associates, the consultants undertaking the study on our behalf, are considering what was said and will be reporting back to us in about a month. 

We have also been notified by DfT about the next round of Active Travel Funding, the submission deadline for which is August 9th.  Whilst we don’t know how funds will be allocated in this round of funding, last year CYC had an allocation of approximately £850,000.  If you have any views on priorities for the city on this occasion, please let us know and we will consider in our bid preparation.  Any submissions will also be considered in the formulation of our Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan – which will form part of our Local Transport Plan (and thanks to those of you who responded to the first consultation about the LTP, which was going on through June).

Greg Morgan, our new Active Modes Planner, is also getting his feet under the table at CYC and is, amongst other things, organising a programme to cut back vegetation which is getting in the way on the off-road network – parts of route 65 have been done this week.

Sustainable transport also is not just about active modes.  This month CYC has submitted a bid to the Department for Transport to convert around one-third of our bus network to electric buses, and we have also notified formation of an Enhanced Bus Partnership for York.  On another note, some of you will know or have worked with Christine Packer, who has led our work with schools for 13 years.  Christine retired from CYC last week – leaving a legacy of some of the highest uses of active modes for the trip to school in the country.  We will be recruiting for a new member of staff over the Summer and I’ll pass on the vacancy details in case it is of interest to YCC members once the ad is up.

Will it end in triumph – or in Tiers?

Tier’s electric hire scooters, which began their trials here in October 2020, are now a familiar sight in York. The trial is being extended to 2022, and you can now hire e-bikes too, at the same price as the scooters: £1 to hire, plus 15p a minute – £10 an hour, if you prefer.

A row of e-scooters and an e-bike
Ready to go, scooters and bikes parked up waiting for their next customer

What are the scooters and bikes like to ride? A blast, I must say. I found both usable with confidence straight away, even if I eschewed using their nifty folding helmets.

Balancing on the scooter was no problem for me, and the brakes could stop me smartly whenever I needed to. Tight turns can be tricky – I had to dismount and shuffle a bit at the hairpins either side of Scarborough Bridge over the river north of the train station – but I didn’t feel I presented a danger to any pedestrians as I glided past them. (The scooters are limited to 15mph, less in certain central areas, and won’t work outside their designated range.)

The e-bike was good to ride too, with e-assist kicking in after a pedal turn or two and a smooth, solid, if not exactly nimble ride. E-bikes are wonderful things, ‘cheating’ in the same way that suspension or gears or brakes are ‘cheating’: not at all, in other words, just an aspect of a type of bike. Instead of mildly dreading uphills, headwinds or energy-sapping gravel tracks, you look forward to skimming up, through or along them. It’s all downhill with the wind behind you on an e-bike.

An e-bike stood on its own
Electrical assist opens up the bike to a wider range rider abilities

Fun. Great fun.

But what about the effects on York’s travel habits? I doubt that either scooters or e-bikes will be of too much commuting or utility-cycling relevance to YCC members; they won’t do anything that bikes don’t already do in our ironing-board-flat home. However, it’s a great way to try out an e-bike if you’re thinking of buying one. 

How about the rest of us?

If they can encourage people to replace car journeys, great: that suggests a potential carbon saving. But if they’re simply a fun experience for visitors, or a cool way for students to not walk between lectures, then any claims for greenery are looking dubious.

It’s an issue that Tier’s Jess, who met up with us today to give us a quick demo of scooter and e-bike, is all to aware of. There are currently 2,000 active users in York, with typical journeys of 3km-4km. But right now these are instead of trips on foot, not by car. Jess and her Tier colleagues are clearly passionate and genuine about reducing motor journeys; but the scheme has to get many more scooters in many more docking stations in many more places, in amongst housing estates and developments, to do that. 

A row of e-scooters parked up at a docking station in a car park
Plenty of docking stations in the city centre, but stations further out are key

There’s a long way to go. Tier is still in the development phase, with lessons being learned, and designs of the e-bike and the general system still being tweaked. (The off-the-peg current e-bike models come with flimsy, superfluous locks, for instance.) 

I’ve also not been able to sign up yet because of problems with the app, which is unable to recognise my driving licence – a requirement for joining. (You are thus insured when you hire a Tier machine, and traceable: that’s why the e-scooters are allowed when private e-scooters effectively aren’t.) As Benjamin Franklin said, the only things certain in life are death, taxes, and technology failures blamed by every department on every other department.

So, as for the long-term impact (as Chou Enlai allegedly quipped when asked about the political effects of the French Revolution on the subsequent two centuries) it’s too early to tell. 

The key is reducing car dependence. But that’s a tall order, that no British scheme or business venture has ever really succeeded at. And talking of tall orders, as a not unusually lofty person, I found the saddle too low, even at maximum extent. As they’re perfectly aware, Tier has some lengths to go. 

Will ASLs become crowded with Tier hire machines and need enlarging? Will there be a backlash against reckless visitors careering down the riverside paths drunk, two on a scooter? Will bike parking spaces be sneakily removed to make room for new docking stations? Will there be problems we know? Or ones we didn’t know we didn’t know? 

Don't drink and drive sticker on the post of an e-scooter

Or will on-demand electric-assist transport begin to reverse our mania for using two tons of metal to edge one person through town at a crawl?

We’ll see over the next year. Let’s hope it’s as smooth a ride as on the scooters.

Review thanks to YCC member Rob Ainsley, follow Robs’ adventures by on bikes at @realcycling or at e2e.bike.