Cyclists put the brakes on York city centre traffic this morning as they stepped up their campaign for a wholesale upgrade of the cycle network.
The York Cycle Campaign organised the demonstration to express their anger at City of York Council’s proposals, which they say don’t go nearly far enough.
More than £800,000 of Government funding is available to boost walking and cycling across York. But campaigners say they are “appalled at the council’s lacklustre proposals for the second tranche of funding, which fail to meet the Government’s conditions, squandering York’s chances of being awarded this sizeable sum”.
Protesters gathered outside the council’s West Offices at 8.30am today (Monday, 3 August), followed by a go-slow ride over Lendal Bridge to York Minster.
It follows their petition, which has gained 3,700 signatures from people calling for road space in York to be reallocated from vehicles to people on foot and cycles.
‘We’re incredibly angry’
York Cycle Campaign and York Civic Trust have worked with transport experts to draw up a suggested list of proposals for the Government funding.
These focus on continuous protected cycle routes that give people the option to travel safely all the way from the outskirts of the city to the centre.
The routes prioritise children cycling to school safely, and commuters who want an alternative to the bus or car.
The campaign said that the council’s response consists of “a piecemeal and temporary collection of proposals, which completely fail to meet some of the key principles laid out in the government guidelines”.
Kate Ravilious, co-chair of York Cycle Campaign, said:
A cycle route is only as good as its worst section, and the proposals being put forward by the council fail to tackle some of the most difficult and dangerous gaps in the cycle network such as the city centre bridges and narrow sections along major roads.
We’re dismayed that the way in which our proposals have been dismissed, and we’re incredibly angry that the council is jeopardising its chances of being awarded this significant sum of funding and failing to give people the safest transport option during the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign and Civic Trust are asking the council to work with them to enhance the city’s finding bid and to grasp this unique opportunity to create a new era for cycling and walking in York.
Transport lead and deputy leader of City of York Council Andy D’Agorne told YorkMix: “York has long been known as a cycling city with some of the best cycling levels in the North. Due to the compact nature of the city and its surrounding areas, York is ideally suited for sustainable modes of travel, with most destinations within a cycle-able distance.
“That is why we are continuing to expand our already extensive on and off road cycle network where possible. York currently has 91km on-road and 122.5km off-road routes.
“We welcome contributions from residents on how to make York a more cycling friendly city. Both York Civic Trust and York Cycle Campaign have already helped to inform our thinking on how best to make use of this funding opportunity.
“The first round of funding has been used for the trial extension of the foot streets, and a number of other measures including cycle lanes on Shipton Road to be installed soon. The second phase presents us with an opportunity to fund further measures including new pedestrian crossing points as well as a completing the new cycle route from Rawcliffe to Bootham Bar along the A19.
“Council officers are working closely with the Executive in developing proposals that meet the ambition and possibilities present in York.
“Throughout the pandemic we have sought to take advantage of the significant cultural and behavioural shift towards active and sustainable modes of travel with the introduction of several cycling and walking trials throughout the city.
“We are continuing to work on integrating cycling infrastructure within major developments over the coming years, to firmly establish cycling and walking at the heart of the York Central transport plan, as well as to develop substantially safer segregated cycle provision as part of the Station Front regeneration.”