Footpath obstructions information request – still no reply after over 2 months

Last year cycling campaigners asked for the path over the river Ouse on the A1237 near Poppleton to be widened to encourage more cyclists.

The request was eventually turned down with the York Council claiming that the bridge was structurally unable to accommodate the change.

The focus then turned to the existing – quite narrow – path which is shared by both cyclists and pedestrians. It was pointed out that both over and under-growth reduced the path, in places, to a single file. There was a quick win available if the Council moved quickly cut back the vegetation.

In July the Council said that it wouldn’t do so immediately, but that the work would be done as part of its routine maintenance programmes.

We’ve heard that one before! Cyclical maintenance regimes are a thing of the past, so we submitted a Freedom of Information request which asked where residents could view these maintenance schedules. Armed with that information taxpayers would at least know when to expect the maintenance teams to arrive.

But no reply has been received despite that request being well beyond the legal date by which a response should have been sent.

Meanwhile, the position of pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge has not improved. There is still a lot of overgrowth.

In addition, the access path surfaces are beginning to subside with several potentially hazardous cracks having appeared on the section near the Park and Ride site

Whatever happened to the £1 million Council budget binge?

May 2020 transport budget decisions. web site report

In May 2020 the York Council decided how £1 million would be injected into the transport budget. (right).

The allocation was controversial.. £1/2 million was allocated to cycling schemes leaving pedestrians with little to show.

Over 2 years later it is difficult to find many examples of how this funding has been used effectively. If anything cycle margins are even more uneven than they were in 2020.

Most of the money was allocated to the central part of the City.

The suburbs hoped to benefit from the £1/2 million allocated to local Councillors for a supplementary highway resurfacing programme. That funding has failed to produce improvements with road and footpath surfaces deteriorating rapidly.

No consolidated list of streets that have been upgraded by any of the [prgrames has been published by the Council.

Meanwhile, the campaign to get potholes on the highway repaired is gaining support.

It is important to get the worst of them filled n before winter icy and floods take a further toll.

In colder countries, the road stays frozen for months and then thaws once, at the end of winter.

In Britain, it’s freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw. In a bad winter, the freeze-thaw process can happen more than 50 times.

That is terrible for road surfaces: potholes are formed when water seeps into tarmac, freezes and expands, and then thaws, cracking and crumbling the road surface.

NB. Potholes website now closed. Advice still relevant

There is no universal standard for road care, with each authority setting different schedules on how often their roads are inspected. And there is no standard for what constitutes a dangerous pothole — the criteria change from council to council.

Road maintenance in England and Wales is underfunded by 55 per cent, or around £1¿billion

So, if you suffer damage — either to your suspension or to your hand — it won’t be immediately clear if the council will pay out. If they’ve abided by their own regulations, then they may well not be liable. And, even if they are liable, they won’t always admit it.

Potholes are estimated to cause as many as one in ten mechanical failures on UK roads, costing motorists an estimated £730million everyy yearr i axle, suspension, tyre and wheel damage — a 159 per cent rise in three years.

The dangers for cyclists are even greater with one fatality having occurred a few years ago in the North Yorkshire County Council area following an impact with a pothole.

The message is clear. If you suffer damage or injury as a result of an impact with a pothole then submit a claim to the council.

If you spot a dangerous pothole also report it.

Even if the Council refuses to repair the pothole your report can be used as evidence if an accident subsequently occurs.

Potholes can be reported via https://www.mysociety.org/wehelpyou/report-potholes-to-your-local-council/ (click)

Public services facing uphill struggle to maintain standards

Litter a problem on some streets

The amount of litter on the streets has increased dramatically in the wake of new bin emptying arrangements. In some areas, collection of recycling was suspended on Monday because of the funeral Bank Holiday.

Some residents hadn’t read the publicity and left insecure recycling boxes out for collection. In other cases green bins, the emptying of which was also suspended on Monday and Tuesday, are also still on the streets.

Walker Drive potholes

In effect, that means that the majority of waste (recycling plus green bin) will not be collected until October.

Elsewhere the Council’s highways maintenance arragements continue to be inadequate. Roads like Walker Drive have a large number of potholes. They will increasein size and depth when frosty weather arrives.

The potholes pose a hazard particularly for two wheeled transport users.

Put simply, the Council is not investing enough in its resurfacing programmes. It may already be in breach of its obligations under the Highways Act.

In turn this could lead to complaints to the Ombudsman.

Council maintained hedges have not been cut

Ironically, the Council has started using Twitter to ask hedge and tree owners to cut back any branches whihc are obstructing roads, paths and street lights.

It is ironic because the Council’s own programme of hedge cutting has once again proved to be inadequate in recent weeks.

Freedom of Information request made two months ago, and which asked for copies of maintenance schedules to be published, has so far not been answered.

The Council appears unwilling to use the powers available to it under the 1980 Highway Act to require obstructions to be removed.

Until recently the Council would remind individual hedge owners that they needed to keep the public highway free of overgrowth. If work wasn’t carried out, then the council would cut the hedge and recharge the owner for the work.

The current Council is, howver, not using fully the powers that it has to keep our highways safe

1980 Highways Act

Problems with cycling management in York

Large numbers of illegal movements on High Petergate

In 2019 the York Council decided, on a trial basis, to allow cycling in a southwards direction on High Petergate. The road had previously been pedestrianised. By 2021 the trial had been declared a success and was made permanent. Subsequently, derestriction notices were posted at the Bootham Bar junction

There had been no reports of any collisions between cyclists and pedestrians. COVID restrictions meant that the number of people using the street had fallen.

High Petergate was, and is, a one-way street with movements from Duncombe Place to Bootham Bar banned. Notwithstanding the ban, on one day recently more cyclists were observed riding towards Bootham Bar than in the reverse (legal) direction. The cyclists included couriers.

Clearly it is a matter of judgment whether this manoeuvre increases risks,. Some cyclists do dismount to walk through the street and, of course, there is no signalled safe exit for cyclists from Bootham Bar either in a straight-ahead or right turn direction.

Perhaps worthy of a review by the Council now that pedestrian and cycling numbers have stabilised.

Cycling figures were incorrect

York Council Executive report 18th Aug 2022

The Council has said that figures on cycling numbers – presented to the August meeting of its Executive – were incorrect. The figures claimed that there had been a 132% increase in cycling activity in the City compared to the base line date of 2009.

This raised eyebrows against the background of the reduced number of journeys – using all modes of travel – experienced as a result of the COVID restrictions.

A Freedom of Information request was tabled as the individual cycling trip meter information, which can be viewed on the “open data” website, hadn’t been updated.

The Council have now produced an interim response which confirms that the 132% figure was incorrect. Revised figures are promised.

Electric bikes appear near Foxwood Park

Update: The bikes have now gone

Three TIER for hire electric bikes have appeared on Bellhouse Way.

They occupy a, little used, cycle parking area next to a park. The local residents association had been asking the Council for several months to move the cycle stands inside the park to improve security.

The arrival of the TIER electric bikes was a complete surprise. with no prior consultation

The bikes are not doing any harm at the moment. Others, that were parked outside Lidl, are currently missing.

Local Councillors also appear be in the dark about TIERS plans.

The siting will raise some eyebrows as it is immediately adjacent to the Foxwood Park which has been the focus of anti-social behaviour over the last few weeks.

No risk assessment has been published.

The bikes cost £1 plus 20p per minute to hire. The authorised use zone ends at the Askham Lane end of Foxwood Lane, after which the maximum speed is governed to 5 mph (a conventional pedal cyclist will sustain speeds of over 10 mph).

The bikes are not as controversial as the electric scooters which are also available to hire from the same company. The scooters are sometimes ridden erratically and there have been several prosecutions, for drink riding & overloading the scooters, during the past year.

TIER haven’t issued any usage statistics recently but, given the high level of conventional cycle ownership in the area and increasing energy costs, we do wonder how long the government will continue to subsidise this project.

NB. Potential users need to download an App onto their smartphones to access the cycles. click

Update: We are told that the Council agreed in February that any cycle bay could be used to park rental cycles. The Council failed to include a requirement that there be local consultation.

Howver the rep0rt presnted tot eh meeting says,

Report to meeting held on 17th February 2022
Decsisons taken at 17th February meeting

Fewer cycling weekly in York than in 2020

Fewer people cycled at least once a week in York last year than in 2020, according to a media report

The first coronavirus lockdown was characterised by shortages at bike shops and councils across England reorganising their streets to encourage walking and cycling.

But new figures from the Department of Transport shows the proportion of people regularly cycling has decreased compared to the year which marked the first lockdown.

The annual Active Lives Survey measures how often individuals exercise and is carried out continuously throughout the year.

According to the survey, 16% of adults in York biked at least once a week in the year to November 2021, down from 21.2% the year before.

This was also a drop from 22.1% in the year to November 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

click to read

More problems with hedges obstructing footpaths

York Press 1/9/22

According to The Press (left), the North Yorkshire County Council is warning hedge owners to keep them cut back from paths and highway infrastructure.

They are right to do so.

Highways Act 1980

The York Council should follow their example and use its powers under the Highway Act to get obstructions removed.

Foxwood

In some cases the Council’s own maintenance process has failed although it was good to see some communal hedges in Foxwood being cut back earlier today (right)

But there are still too many places where hedges and trees are obstructing street lights.

Thorn branches extending onto footpaths in several locations will present a particular hazard as darker nights roll in.

Every year the same problem areas have to be reported suggesting that routine maintenance schedules simply aren’t being adhered to.

So we hope that the York Council will get on top of the issue quickly now

Resurfaced lane near Rufforth better for cyclists

The Council have completed repairs on Bradley Lane. The road links Rufforth and Askham Richard and is popular with leisure cyclists.

There is less good news closer to York. The cycle/footpath underpass at the A59/A1237 junction is obstructed by a thorn bush.

Adjacent drainage channels are also overgrown with weeds.

The issues were reprted sevral weeks ago and should by now have been cleared by the Council.