Safe Streets York Recap

During the summer we ran our Safe Streets York campaign with thanks to Commonplace who opened up their community engagement platform in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between May and September 764 respondents from around York and it’s surrounding areas contributed to the map to give us a snapshot of the issues around the city facing pedestrians and cyclists.

Struggling to view the map above? Try viewing the map directly in Google My Maps

What’s the survey shown us?

Comments relating to the design and provision of infrastructure equate for nearly three quarters of responses to the map, with the rest relating to ‘in-use’ issues such as traffic, bad parking, and maintenance.

Zooming out on the map it’s also possible to make out strings of dots identifying those routes that are most popular. It will be no surprise that these strings follow major roads heading towards the centre and riverside routes. In part this formed some of the Cycle Campaign and York Civic Trust’s joint list of suggestions for Tranche 2 of the EATF.

What happens next?

Since the end of summer we’ve already organised a number of ‘Ward Pedals’, putting members in touch with their councillors and the information for their ward. Members have then been going out for walks and cycles with their councillors to discuss the issues raised and work out what could be done. You can read how the ride with Rawcliffe and Clifton Without councillors went in October.

Completed Ward Pedals

Copmanthorpe
Heworth
Rawcliffe and Clifton Without
Haxby
Holgate
Bishopthorpe
Rural West

Ward Pedals Pending

Acomb
Westfield
Micklegate
Guildhall
Heworth Without
Clifton
Hull Road
Osbaldwick and Derwent

Volunteers Needed For Ward Pedals

Dringhouses and Woodthorpe
Fishergate
Fulford and Heslington
Huntington and New Earswick
Strensall
Wheldrake

If you live in one of these wards and would like to help email: YorkCycleCampaign@gmail.com

We’ll be using the information as a basis for our future campaigning, helping us identify where to prioritise our efforts and also giving us a base of information when we respond to consultations. In putting the information out in the public we hope it will also help individuals campaigning and those with power to make changes such as the council.

Who answered this?

It was just cyclists right?

No. As part of the survey we asked respondents a few questions about themselves, 71 % of were said they would cycle to get around the city (pre-COVID), but 67% also said they would sometimes drive/be driven and 54% by walking. We also asked those that did get around by driving if they expected any change in how they got around, and 61% said they expect to start using their car less now.

A noticable the first lockdown had was the significant drop in traffic as people stopped driving, and started walking & cycling locally more. We asked respondents some questions about the difference this had made.

When asked if they felt safer cycling, two-thirds agreed that the felt safer with the reduced traffic.

When asked if they felt safer walking, the difference wasn’t as large but more still felt safe.

December 2020 Newsletter

We’ve got a packed issue for you to bring us to the year end – less than 3 weeks to go and days will be getting longer, so that’s something to celebrate. For those of you who missed our AGM in November, you can catch up with our fascinating speaker Ellis Palmer. And leading on from that, we have more about (in)accessibility of cycling infrastructure and how policy may change things in future. Plus updates on various planned developments around York.

e-AGM brings new blood to committee

An inspiring end to the year. We heard from BBC journalist Ellis Palmer, who took up cycling during the lockdown in March and has since covered an estimated 4000 miles on his hand cycle! Link to his talk below. 

Meanwhile, Robyn gave a fantastic summary of the highs and lows of cycle campaigning in York over the last year, enthusing 15 members – yes 15! – to join the committee. We’ll introduce the new committee in the January newsletter, but if strength in numbers is anything to go by 2021 is going to be a great year for cyclists in York.

Wheel Spiels: Agitating for accessibility

Jamie at the infamous Hob Moor Barriers

Jamie tells us about his FOI Friday campaign and explains how we can all join in by highlighting those features that we find a challenge when using the local cycle infrastructure. Hob Moor barriers, anyone?

What is LTN 1/20 and why do I care? 

Exemplar infrastructure on the Leeds Bradford Highway

Early in November YCC invited transport consultant Phil Jones, one of the authors of the Government’s new cycle policy and guidance, to talk to councillors in York. You can read about the main principles of the new cycle infrastructure design (as outlined in Local Transport Note 1/20) here, where you’ll also find a recording of Phil’s presentation.

We’ve also put together a summary of ‘Gear Change’, the Government’s Active Travel policy document here.

Extra cash for cycle routes in York

The cycle campaign is pleased to learn that York has been awarded just over £650,000 in the second round of Emergency Active Travel funding from the Government. 

We understand that the council will be carrying out consultation on their proposals (which you can see here) over the next couple of months. It’s a shame that the proposals aren’t more joined up, but we welcome the suggested improvements which include a safe route over the Outer ring road A1237 Ouse Bridge, segregated cycle provision down Shipton Road and the creation of a cycle route between Heslington and Wheldrake.

Ring road dualling: our response

Thank you to all of you who submitted your own feedback on this scheme. You can read the cycle campaign’s response here.

York Central development: where are we now?

The York Central access road design was approved by the planning committee last month. The cycle campaign has previously responded to consultation on the design, and we spoke at the committee meeting to highlight a few of our remaining concerns. You can read our statement here.

We now hope to work with the York Central design team to find ways of improving some of the areas of concern.

Plans afoot for city centre 

At the Executive meeting on Thurs 26th Nov, councillors agreed to make Castlegate and Colliergate into Footstreets, and to re-open Fossgate to vehicles. The cycle campaign supports the principle of excluding vehicles from the city centre, but doesn’t want to see cyclists squeezed out too. We’re campaigning for some of the foot streets to be made into cycle streets too, and we’re asking the council to consider lifting foot street cycle restrictions for anyone with a disability. Kate and Robyn have been in touch with Julian Ridge and Andy Kerr (officers responsible for planning the footstreet changes). They tell us there is a recommendation in the report to explore options for disabled people who use cycles as a mobility aid to access the city centre, with a future report to be brought back to the Executive Member for Transport. They declare a commitment to monitor the impacts of the footstreets on all users and adapt accordingly. This will form part of a complete strategic review of car parking and city centre access which will involve further engagement and be completed by the summer. We will continue our dialogue with the council and, as always, welcome input from our members about your concerns and challenges.

Car park, what car park? 

St. George’s Field Car Park as it is now

The campaign are pleased to see that plans for a multi-storey car park on St George’s Field have been deferred for now, pending a review of York’s car parking needs and an assessment of traffic flow. The campaign would like to see any plans for this area to include cycle infrastructure that meets the latest LTN1/20 guidelines and we’ll continue to make sure that cyclist’s voices are heard on this issue. 

Clementhorpe/Terry Avenue

The Environment Agency has informed us that the council has not yet given them the green light on their revised construction traffic management plan and road safety audit. As a result they are delaying the installation of their construction compound until after Christmas (they were intending to start work at the end of November). We are in communication with the council highways team on this issue and we’ll keep members updated as soon as we find out more.

Newsflash: Castle Gateway development

The council planning committee has approved development of the old Castle Mills car park. As well as a new apartment block, the scheme includes a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Foss to connect Piccadilly and the wider cycle and walking routes to and across the city centre. More information on the council’s website.

FOI Friday

Campaign member Jamie has been digging a little deeper about why things are the way they are in York recently, taking it upon himself to start a FOI (Freedom of Information) Friday campaign of his own, as he explains below.


Are you fed up with cycle infrastructure in York? Are you perplexed that the council is not taking opportunities to improve cycle infrastructure? Are you concerned that despite warm words cycle infrastructure seems to get worse, not better? 

If you answered yes to these three questions then me too. I answered yes to these questions some years ago now, and, perhaps more than most, the infrastructure really matters to me now. Cycling is now the only way I can move around independently and my confidence to do so on the road is a bit shaky, especially as we moved out of lockdown.

I may be disabled, but I’m also impatient, impetuous and a bit bloody minded. My frustration at warm words and no action finally boiled over earlier this year and I decided to think about what I could do to directly challenge the council over their decisions. I don’t want to — just yet — discuss everything I discovered but one way I was inspired was by an outstanding and freely available letter written by Heavy Metal Handcyclist (@CrippledCyclist), someone I follow on Twitter. The letter is available here.

The letter is a brilliantly written Freedom of Information request, originally written to challenge a barrier put in place by Warrington Council. Indeed it was so successful that it pretty much ended the story with the desired result (for Heavy Metal Handcyclist, at least). I was inspired to try the same approach with some of the inaccessible features in York. Every Friday I have been submitting a freedom of information request and tagging it on Twitter with #FOIFriday. The results have been fascinating, and best of all they are available to read for everyone.

I have three broad objectives;
1) Removal or modifying of existing barriers,
2) Improvement of policy regarding temporary works and,
3) Improvement of cycling infrastructure up to best practice whenever the opportunity arises.

I don’t feel these are unreasonable requests and my slight guilt at my single-minded pursuit of these goals has quickly faded with the incomplete responses I have received from the council and the incredulous commentary from followers on Twitter. Twitter has been an invaluable asset in this regard; it has enabled me to connect with some impressively helpful experts who are able to advise me on the appropriate questions to ask. For example you might like to see the discussion on the infamous Hob Moor barriers:

My requests are visible on the What Do they Know website.

Please read. Please copy. And please, please consider submitting your own request to understand why infrastructure is how it is. It doesn’t have to be.

A Quick Guide to Gear Change

In July this year, the Department for Transport released it’s policy paper Gear Change setting out the Government’s plans for cycling and walking in England.

The document recognises not only that there are huge benefits that increased levels of walking and cycling can bring to the country, but that there are also some sizeable hurdles to overcome to get to those increased levels.

At the time of its release the document was broadly welcomed by campaign groups and notable figures in active travel such as Dame Sarah Storey and Chris Boardman. Even the head of the AA who commented that “getting road space balance for all forms of travel is essential so that deliveries, emergency services, disabled drivers, shoppers and buses are not hindered from conducting their crucial roles as well as promoting active travel.”

Four Themes

The policy sets out numerous proposals to tackle issues that are well known to be detractors to people walking and cycling.

1. Better streets for cycling and people.

With support for measures such as low traffic neighborhoods, school streets, a commitment to fund three non-London mini-Hollands, and the introduction of higher standards for cycle design through the LTN 1/20 (which we cover in this post).

It also poses the introduction of at least one ‘zero-emission city’ which they say will have ‘extensive bike lanes, an all electric (or zero-emission) bus fleet, and a ban on nearly all petrol and diesel vehicles in the city centre, with deliveries made to consolidation hubs and the last mile being done by cargo bike or electric van.’ 

2. Putting cycling and walking at the heart of transport, place-making, and health policy.

Which commits to more funding, improved integration with trains and buses, and investment in cycle freight – with the intention to ‘identify one or two small historic city centres with narrow and crowded streets, [where they] will pilot compulsory freight consolidation schemes’, The majority of deliveries would be consolidated at a location outside of the city centre and taken to their final destination in a far smaller number of clean vehicles, using cargo bikes wherever possible. 

3. Empowering and encouraging local authorities.

Giving them more funding, assistance and powers to make improvements and enforce against offences such as entering mandatory cycle lanes.

But there will also be an element of stick to go with the carrot; with funding only given for schemes that meet standards, time limits on works being delivered, and the introduction of Active Travel England – new commissioning body that will act as Ofsted do for schools. 

4. [Enabling] people to cycle and protect them when they cycle.

Through measures such as encouraging GPs to ‘prescribe’ cycling, doing more to combat cycle theft, doing more for vulnerable road users through law and updating the Highway Code.

Twenty Key Principles

Gear Change also sets out 22 points that summarise the key principles to achieving high quality cycle infrastructure, they are:

  1. Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone from 8 to 80 and beyond: it should be planned and designed for everyone. The opportunity to cycle in our towns and cities should be universal.
  2. Cycles must be treated as vehicles and not as pedestrians. On urban streets, cyclists must be physically separated from pedestrians and should not share space with pedestrians. Where cycle routes cross pavements, a physically segregated track should always be provided. At crossings and junctions, cyclists should not share the space used by pedestrians but should be provided with a separate parallel route. 
  3. Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic, both at junctions and on the stretches of road between them.
More of facilities like this segregated cycle track in Bradford.
Photo c/o R. Ainsley
  1. Side street routes, if closed to through traffic to avoid rat running, can be an alternative to segregated facilities or closures on main roads – but only if they are truly direct. 
  2. Cycle infrastructure should be designed for significant numbers of cyclists, and for non-standard cycles. Our aim is that thousands of cyclists a day will use many of these schemes. 
  3. Consideration of the opportunities to improve provision for cycling will be an expectation of any future local highway schemes funded by the Government.
  4. Largely cosmetic interventions which bring few or no benefits for cycling or walking will not be funded from any cycling or walking budget. 
  5. Cycle infrastructure must join together, or join other facilities together by taking a holistic, connected network approach which recognises the importance of nodes, links and areas that are good for cycling.
  6. Cycle parking must be included in substantial schemes, particularly in city centres, trip generators and (securely) in areas with flats where people cannot store their bikes at home. Parking should be provided in sufficient amounts at the places where people actually want to go.
  7. Schemes must be legible and understandable. 
  8. Schemes must be clearly and comprehensively signposted and labelled.
  9. Major ‘iconic’ items, such as overbridges must form part of wider, properly thought-through schemes.
  10. As important as building a route itself is maintaining it properly afterwards.
  11. Surfaces must be hard, smooth, level, durable, permeable and safe in all weathers.
  12. Trials can help achieve change and ensure a permanent scheme is right the first time. This will avoid spending time, money and effort modifying a scheme that does not perform as anticipated.
  13. Access control measures, such as chicane barriers and dismount signs, should not be used.
Inaccessible barriers such as the infamous Hob Moor A-frames are a no-no.
  1. The simplest, cheapest interventions can be the most effective.
  2. Cycle routes must flow, feeling direct and logical.
  3. Schemes must be easy and comfortable to ride.
  4. All designers of cycle schemes must experience the roads as a cyclist. 
  5. Schemes must be consistent. 
  6. In rare cases, where it is absolutely unavoidable, a short stretch of less good provision rather than jettisoning an entire route which is otherwise good will be appropriate. But in most instances it is not absolutely unavoidable and exceptions will be rare.

Engagement

Gear Change also makes a strong case that all schemes should involve the public before they’re delivered to increase acceptance and ensure that the end user’s needs are dealt with.

Since it’s rebirth York Cycle Campaign has actively engaged on many schemes, even seeking out engagement when it hasn’t necessarily been offered, and will continue to do so making strong reference to Gear Change and the accompanying documents. We believe in having such as clear document as direct Government policy the case for safe, convenient and accessible cycle infrastructure in York is as strong as ever. If you’d like to be a part of this and aren’t already, then please do join the Campaign.

A Quick Guide to LTN 1/20

Earlier this year the DfT published a new Local Transport Note, LTN 1/20, which sets out a comprehensive national standard for design of cycle infrastructure. The release coincided with with the release of the policy paper Gear Change which set out a vision for increasing walking and cycling – more on that paper this post.

You can access the full Local Transport Note 1/20 from the DfT here.

What’s it for?

Good implementation of the standards set by the LTN will be a major factor in schemes where funding is coming from central sources. Gear Change explicitly states that ‘to receive Government funding for local highways investment where the main element is not cycling or walking, there will be a presumption that schemes must deliver or improve cycling infrastructure to the standards in the Local Transport Note’.

Key Terms
  • Cycle‘/’cyclists‘ as opposed to ‘bicycle‘/’bicyclist‘ to reflect the diversity of machines and users out there.
  • Cycle track‘ are defined as routes for cycling along the highway physically segregated from both motor traffic and pedestrians.
  • Cycle path‘, ‘greenway‘, ‘towpath‘ are routes away from a highway.
  • Cycle lane‘ is part of the carriageway dedicated to cycle for use by cyclists.

New schemes going through the planning process will also need to pay attention to the recommendations within the LTN, a scheme in Cambridge has already been refused planning approval with failure to provide quality infrastructure as set out in the LTN being listed as a reason for the refusal.

The LTN doesn’t replace the requirement for local authorities such as City of York Council to set their own design standards, but provides a recommended based for them to develop their own standards from. It can be expected that the LTN will therefore feed significantly into the upcoming revision of the city’s Local Transport Plan.

5 Core PRINCIPLES

Coherent

Cycle routes should allow people to reach day to day destinations easily in a way that is easy to navigate, avoiding arrangements that are unintuitive or taking cyclists away from the obvious route.

Direct

Cycle routes should be as direct, if not more direct, than the routes available to motor vehicles. Designs which require lots of stop/starting, giving way at side roads, or diversion away from the direct route aren’t considered adequate.

Safe

As well as being safe, emphasis is given to the need for infrastructure to feel safe. Long standing excuses for safety such as narrow advisory cycle lanes are pointedly dismissed as unacceptable.

Comfortable

Quality maintained surfaces, proper widths and favourable gradients are all seen as being crucial to comfort, as is reducing conflict between road user types.

Attractive

Cycle infrastructure should contribute positively to the urban realm, and naturally be attractive to use, whilst the over use of signs and markings should be avoided as they produce clutter – and usually indicate the infrastructure is unintuitive.

Contents

The LTN is broken down into chapter covering different aspects of infrastructure design, along with some introductory chapters setting the scene the LTN covers:

  • Principles for including cycling within masterplanning,
  • Basic design principles,
  • Geometric requirements for cycles (minimum widths, turning circles, gradients etc.),
  • Requirements for three key provision types,
  • Junctions and crossings,
  • Cycle parking,
  • Planning for commercial cyclings,
  • Traffic signs and wayfinding,
  • Construction and maintenance of cycle infrastructure.

This Autumn YCC organised a webinar from Phil Jones, of transport consultancy Phil Jones Associates, for CoYC Councillors. As one of the authors of the guidance, Phil was able to cover in greater detail some of the guidance covered in the document. A recording of the webinar is available to watch on the York Cycle Campaign Youtube channel or below.

Assessment Tools

LTN document also contains two assessment tools for scoring schemes against the document’s standards – Cycle Level of Service (CLOS) and Junction Assessment Tool (JAT). The tools were originally developed for the London Cycle Design standards, and have been adapted for use with the new LTN document.

CLOS scores the overall scheme on a number of factors under the themes of cohesion, directness, safety, comfort, and attractiveness. Scores of 0-2 are awarded against twenty five criteria in order to determine an overall percentage mark for the scheme. A percentage score of 70% is expected in order for schemes to be eligible for funding. For some criteria there are critical fails, such as cycle lanes less than 1.5m wide, if a scheme gets any of these they fail altogether.

JAT assesses junctions against generic criteria and junction specific criteria, scoring each specific movement between 0-2. Again a  percentage score of 70% is expected in order for schemes to be eligible for funding, as well as not scoring 0 on any movement.

The Campaign has developed an interactive spreadsheet to make scoring of schemes against CLOS and JAT easier for campaigns when commenting on proposals. We’ll be making the spreadsheet available for all campaign groups to download and use in the coming weeks.