Cycle routes could be gritted again this winter at a cost of £47K

Flashback to March 2018: a cyclist rides down Deangate in the snow. Photograph: YorkMix

Cycle routes could be gritted again this winter after a successful trial last year – despite the scheme pushing the council to overspend on its budget.

Cyclists and pedestrians told the council that the mini tractors – which one resident called “baby gritters” – had made it safer for them to get around, boosted confidence and made them feel that cycle routes were as important as roads.

But the report says the £47,000 spent on the trial contributed to the council spending £180,000 over their budget on winter maintenance work last year.

And if the trial continues it is likely to cost the same amount this winter.

The pilot saw two little gritters treat the city’s most popular cycling and walking routes – across Scarborough Bridge, the route between Wigginton Road and Osbaldwick, and the routes along the riverside in Fulford and from Tadcaster Road to Skeldergate – including Millennium Bridge.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne will be asked to approve plans to grit the same routes this winter – with the programme starting in October and ending in April.

‘Seemed much safer’

Gritters at work in York

“The city of York Council Cycle Officer had feedback from cyclists which can be summarised as the trial is a vast improvement and that they’d like it extending to other parts of the network which were not included in the trial,” says a report prepared for the transport meeting.

One cyclist told the council: “Several of the group commented that their usual walking cycling routes along Foss Islands and Terry Avenue had not been icy after the baby gritters had been out over the last couple of months.

“And that it seemed much safer to get around this winter than last year.”

But the trial did have some teething problems – with the tractors suffering breakdowns and technical issues with new equipment.

And the report warns that due to the impact of coronavirus on the council’s finances, councillors must prioritise the most important services.

The council has an extra £178,000 put aside to deal with severe winter weather which could be used to fund the little gritters this year.

The programme will be discussed at a council transport meeting at 9.30am on Tuesday. Watch live here.