Knapton – Rufforth cycle path

This link was established about a decade ago and forms part of the off road cycle network advertised by the York Council.

Like many similar paths, basic maintenance issues arise from time to time.

Cycle tracks and associated infrastructure can quickly become obstructed at this time of year. This is adjacent to the Yorwaste site.

Overgrowth is one of the major seasonal problems.

We were surprised to learn from a local Councillor, that only the section of path from Rufforth to the shooting club access road is maintained by the York Council. Responsibilities for the rest of the track rest with adjacent landowners. It is fair to say that standards vary.

The Council did promise major improvements to at least part of the cycle track as part of their project to establish woodland on land adjacent to the route. It remains unclear when, or even if, this work will proceed.

Our view is that the Council should implement an inspection and basic maintenance process which ensure that all paths are kept in a safe condition. For as long as is necessary, this should have a higher priority, for use of the Councils resources, than introducing additional paths.

Transport planning in York

York Press 21/6/22

The headlines in today’s local paper suggest that the York Council is delaying a decision on its long term transport strategy until after the local elections, which are scheduled to take place next May

With the present plan covering the period up to 2030, the Council can afford to take its time. It needs to monitor how lifestyles change in the wake of the pandemic, BREXIT, international instability and industrial unrest.

We don’t yet know how the government intends to make u pits shortfall in fuel duty income as electric vehicle start to dominate the roads. If – as is widely expected – some sort of road pricing scheme is introduced, the technology deployed could also be used to vary charges to encourage off peak use of our transport infrastructure.

It is important that the different political parties offer clear choices in their local election manifestos next year. It is true that many recent transport investments in the City (including some really quite odd cycle network priorities) appear to have been driven by lobby groups,

it is vital that computer modeling data is used to support objective decision making. .

In the meantime the Council should concentrate on getting the basics right.

People aren’t going to opt to use two wheeled transport if routes are blocked by overgrowth or if cycle parking is inadequate.

Both issues can be addressed relatively cheaply.

Path obstructed. This one is in the Rawcliffe neighbourhood

Law of unintended consequences

While we were happy today to report on the successful completion of improvements to a cycle track link to Riccall, elsewhere things a re more problematic.

On Hob Moor, weeds and grass are now growing quickly in the good weather. The absence of cattle grazing means that wildlife habitats, carefully nurtured over several decades, could be irreparably damaged. This because one fringe cycling pressure group wanted a slightly easier access onto the moor.

The Council must bear most of the blame having impulsively removed barriers without any trials to assess the consequences.’ Cattle subsequently escaped and had to be relocated away from the moor, That was three weeks ago and there is no sign of the barriers being restored. Shocking neglect by a Council which professes to be sensitive to the environment.

Hob Moor nesting grounds are now overgrown

Nearby cycling infrastructure is also slowly disappearing under a curtain of weeds. The Council is supposed to be starting its second weed spraying round this month. There are too many paths and alleys where the first round hasn’t been completed.

Paths near Windsor Garth are becoming overgrown

Perhaps even more surprising, right in the City centre on Micklegate, a cycle parking loop has been overgrown. Inadequate cycle parking provision is an area of neglect which directly conflicts with the Councils ambition to get more people onto two wheels.

Weeds impeding cycle stand on Micklegate

The situation is reminiscent of problems at the Green party run Brighton Council, where the local authority has banned the use of herbicides. They were reportedly going to offer neighbours free use of equipment to “strim” weed growth . They apparently forgot to order the equipment with dramatic consequences.

Update: 18/6/22:: Thanks to Paul Willey and the York Council cleansing team, the cycle rack on Micklegate is now free of weed growth obstructions

Even worse in Brighton according to media reports

Another own goal on cycle parking? Further down Micklegate spaces which could be used by cyclists have been taken over by Tier scooters. Local shopkeepers report that they get very little use. Earlier today all the cycle parking loops were in use. Four scooters blocked the rest of the area.

York – Selby cycle track resurfacing completed

It has taken a long time, but most of the York – Selby cycle track, from the Ouse to Riccall, has now been resurfaced.

The surface is now level – to the point where someone was roller blading on it yesterday. That would have been virtually impossible previously because of root damage to the surface.

All sections of the route have now reopened.

There is work still to do.

Overgrowth obstructs the path in some places at this time of year with the worst affected section being located near Bishopthorpe.

….and the York Council maintained section, between London Bride and the A 64 southern by pass, continues to be an embarrassment to the City. We hope to see prompt action on improving this part of the route.

But credit to SUSTRANs – and the government for its grant support – for making the route accessible again at a time when more people will want to take advantage of the good weather.

At Last! Monk Cross vehicle charging hub opens today

12 months behind schedule and still no satisfactory explanation for the delay

No news on opening date for the Poppleton Bar “hyper hub” or recharging costs

The Councils media release reads:

  • Monks Cross HyperHub is one of the largest charging hubs in Northern England
  • Four 175kW ultra-rapid chargers, four 50kW rapid chargers, with an adjacent area having 30 7kW chargepoints
  • Solar canopy allows site to generate renewable energy which can be stored in batteries at both Monks Cross and Poppleton
Two customers who have been queuing for some time at Monks Cross

York’s new electric vehicle HyperHub at Monks Cross is open from today [15 June]. For a limited time, the new site won’t be charging for electricity in a bid to test the new technology and encourage residents and visitors to visit the new site.

The Monks Cross HyperHub is located next to Park and Ride site and will be one of the largest charging hubs in Northern England. Poppleton HyperHub is set to open this summer.

Both HyperHub sites will contain 4 Ultra-Rapid (150kW) and 4 Rapid (50kW) vehicle chargers, helping to support the uptake of modern EV’s that have larger battery capacities and are capable of Ultra Rapid charging.

Monks Cross features four 175kW ultra-rapid chargers (which can be upgraded to 350kW when vehicle charging rates make that worthwhile), four 50kW rapid chargers, with an adjacent area having thirty 7kW chargers for Park and Ride users.

The HyperHub also has a solar canopy which allows the site to generate its own renewable energy which can be stored in the Tesla Powerpack batteries at the charging hub, helping to reinforce the grid.

The ultra-rapid and rapid chargers are user-friendly for EV drivers and offer contactless payment methods. Cars and vans can access the chargers, and the facility has been designed with no kerbs to allow disabled access. Protection from the weather is provided by the solar canopy and all of the electricity supplied from the National Grid will be generated by renewable sources.

A key element behind the development of the HyperHubs was the production of an Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy by the council. This looked at a wide range of issues in order to ensure that the HyperHubs met the needs of residents, fleets, commuters and through traffic. The convenient location of the charging hubs was a central part of the strategy, with the first two HyperHub sites being located off the ring road next to established Park and Ride sites.

The Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy also identified that it wasn’t yet commercially viable for the private sector to develop such charging hubs, so the council would own its charging network in order to guarantee the best results for residents. This allows the council to plan how the network will grow and to set tariffs, as well as making it directly accountable and enabling it to deliver next generation chargers as quickly as possible.

The funding for the HyperHubs is also unique, with City of York Council successfully securing £1 million of European Regional Development Funding and £800,000 from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, along with £400,000 of the council’s own capital funding to install the first two HyperHubs. This has resulted in 80% of the £2.2 million project being externally funded.

For more information about the HyperHubs visit https://www.york.gov.uk/hyperhubs

There was a slight delay to the originally planned completion date of Monks Cross due to finalising commercial and contractual arrangements. There is no additional cost as a result of this delay. (!)

The unique project is the result of a partnership between City of York Council and EvoEnergy.

Changes to speed limits

The York Council is considering reducing the speed limit on some roads.

The proposals will be discussed at a meeting taking place next week. Some changes are recommended for approval

York may get its first “quiet lane”. Northfield Lane at Upper Poppleton is scheduled to get the designation as part of a plan to reduce vehicle speeds and install cycle lanes on what is a cul de sac.

The route is used by some commercial vehicles accessing the commercial areas. The number of cyclists using the lane to access the increasingly popular Knapton – Rufforth cycle track has increased in recent years.

Increased wear and tear on the infrastructure of the route has however become an increasing problem.

There is some irony in one of the other proposals. The 30 mph limit on the B1222 at Naburn will be extended to the intersection point at the junction with the York – Selby cycle path.(near the former railway bridge). This does make some sense as a 30 mph limit would also apply to the busy area around the entrance to the Marina. .

The report is, however, insensitive a=to the problem of poor sight lines from the cycle path access. Swathes haven’t been cut adjacent to the access points this year and it is currently impossible to see vehicles approaching whatever speed they may be travelling at.

Sight lines blocked at Naburn

Cycle facilities on the rest of the B1222 link to the Designer Outlet are fragmented although there is space for a shared use path along much of its length

City centre access row rubbles on

A report is being presented to a meeting next week which details objections which have been made to the Council proposal to ban all vehicles from the pedestrian areas between 10:30am and 7:00pm.

Last year the Council confirmed that “Blue Badge” holders would be excluded.

The Council consulted on whether any other vehicles – other than blue light services – should be able access the zone. Exemptions were suggested for “dial a ride” and refuse collection vehicles (emptying litter bins etc).

Some of the strongest objections to the plan have come from people who actually live within the pedestrian area.

They describe the traditional 5:00pm end for the foot-streets hours as barely practical while a 7:00pm finish would problematic. One quotes an incident when an emergency plumber had to be summoned to deal with a raw sewage leak.

While the aim behind the Council plan – to deter terrorist activities – is laudable, we don’t believe that the consequences have been thought through.

There are technology systems available now which would allow the allocation in real time of designated kerbside spaces for accredited blue badge and essential repair vehicles.

Access routes and timings could be authorised using an online process with enforcement by ANPR cameras

105 Walmgate

NB The Council is likely to consider a “final mile” sustainable delivery solution for the City centre at its next meeting. The proposal could involve establishing a distribution hub from which final deliveries could be made by electric vehicles, bikes and trolleys. Details here The distribution Hub would be located at 105/107 Walmgate.

High Petergate replacement lighting column

The meeting will also consider whether to repair or replace a historic lamp column that has been damaged by vehicle collision.

It is thought to be the last remaining historical cast ornate columns of this nature in York city centre possibly even the wider York area

The Minster Gates lamppost has been in place for around 120 years.

The Council’s Conservation Officer says, “

The Minster Gates lamppost is an irreplaceable historic asset as a sole surviving example of early electric street furniture. If it was made in York it has additional significance. It contributes to the character and appearance of a site of the highest heritage sensitivity. Specialist assessment has confirmed that restoration of the lamppost is possible, but it is highly specialised and hence expensive. Every effort should be made to repair the existing fabric and reinstate the lamppost because replacement with an alternative design would not preserve the heritage values of the asset.

The meeting is being recommended to authorise the repair (rather than replacement) of the lighting column at a cost of £33,000. Some – possibly not all – of the cost would be recovered from the insurance policy of the vehicle responsible for the collision. The street light would be relocated a short distance to a less vulnerable position and would be protected by a bollard.

Cycling News

York – Selby cycle path

The section between the Ouse and the B1222 has re-opened. There is now an excellent surface for cycling and walking.

Cycle path re-opened

The diversion via Naburn is still in place although road works in the village have now been completed

Further along the cycle track at Bishopthorpe, nettles are beginning to restrict the width of the path. It is already less than 2 metres wide in some places which makes it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to pass. The same problem arose last year when, at one stage ,the complete path width was obstructed.

The Parish Councils, SUSTRANs and the York Council don’t regard it as their responsibility to keep the route unobstructed and safe. The route is howver shown on the Councils cycle route map

It is a particular problem for disabled users and children in push chairs.

The problem could be reduced by adding the stretch to the weed treatment programme.

Tadcaster Road

Rather different problems on Tadcaster Road as the consultation on changes to the layout gathers pace.

One area of controversy is the routing of cycle lanes at bus stops. The new proposals would see the cycle lane routed next to the footpath with passengers having to step over it to get to the bus.

With cyclists typically averaging speeds of between 10 and 15 mph this is viewed as a hazard particularly by young children and wheelchair users.

Confused priority proposal for Tadcaster Road

There is no easy answer. Putting the bus into a layby – with the cycle lane carrying straight on- would solve the issue at some locations but possibly at the expense of longer journey times as the buses may be delayed attempting to rejoin the main carriageway..

However, where practical, this would still seem to be the safer option.

There has been silence regarding one section of Tadcaster Road where a shared footpath is already less the 2 metres wide.

This is the section near the cemetery. Although vegetation was cut back during the winter, sight lines are poor in places and there is an ongoing conflict between students and others walking to the park and ride site and cyclists accessing the off road cycle tracks which link to Bishopthorpe, Copmanthorpe and Tadcaster.

The Council promised a solution to the London Bridge bottleneck as part of its £4 million upgrade, but nothing has been suggested during the current consultation.

Narrow shared use path near the cemetery

York Outer Ring Road scheme progress

The Council’s Executive will be asked next week to note progress and approve a number of recommendations to progress the York Outer Ring Road Scheme.

The York Outer Ring Road scheme, which is led by the Council and valued at £65m, will improve the city’s highway network by reducing congestion, moving car journeys out of the city centre and enhancing the pedestrian and cycle experience with significant improvements to sustainable transport along the network.

At the meeting next week, Executive Members will be provided with a progress update on the proposed York Outer Ring Road A1237 (Rawcliffe to Little Hopgrove) Dualling Scheme.

A significant milestone has been reached in the scheme, as a planning application is to be submitted imminently. Work has also been ongoing to complete the detailed design, develop the final business case and acquire land for the scheme.

Executive members will also be asked to consider options to mitigate potential delays, due to the time that utility diversion works can often take. These enabling works would allow the full scheme, which is subject to planning permission, to progress. Diverting utilities at an early stage will help to avoid costly delays to the project.

Subject to planning consent, it is hoped construction work will start in mid-2023 for 2 years, with completion in 2025.

Cycle path works at Naburn nearing completion

The York – Selby cycle path was being resurfaced today near the bridge over the Ouse. Access remained open although it was necessary to walk for a short distance.

We understand that the the track will reopen tomorrow, between the bridge and the B1222, after which a diversion through Naburn will be available.

The final section between the B1222 and Vicarage Lane may take a further two weeks to complete.

Elsewhere the usual summer overgrowth problems are causing obstructions on both cycle and footpaths.

It tends to be the same locations each year. which are affected.

Skiddaw Woodthorpe cycle path obstructed. A similar issue arose last year

It is a shame that the York Council does not have a routine maintenance programme in place to keep cycle paths safe and usable all year round

One path that won’t be receiving any attention from the York Council is the off road path which links Rufforth to Knapton. Improvements to the surface of the path were promised a couple of years ago when the Council was trying to sell the idea of planting a wood on adjacent land. Tree planting has started but sections of the path remain in poor condition.

The Council has now said that they aren’t responsible for maintenance of the path. (despite it appearing on the cycle route map published by the Council).

One section near the tip is now obstructed by overgrowth.

Just who precisely is supposed to perform a basic maintenance task, on what is listed as a PROW, remains unclear,..

Rufforth Kapton cycle track. The section marked in blue is also a bridleway.