Real time “next bus due” signs coming to sub urban bus stops in York

We understand that Councillors have been asked to nominate suburban bus stops where real-time “”next bus due” signs could usefully be located.

It is part of an £800,000 government-funded upgrade programme.

There hasn’t been widescale (any?) consultation on this yet, but we hope that vandal-resistant, signs can be located at the busy stops in the Westfield/Acomb area.

Council to spend another £6.4m on Tadcaster Road highways scheme

The York Council has announced that “one of the busiest roads in York is benefitting from £6.4 million of improvements, with preliminary works already starting on the ground from this month.

The Council claims, “Improvements to Tadcaster Road will ensure that the route can continue to cope with current and future travel demands. It will also create a safer and more attractive environment, which supports and encourages more people to walk, cycle and use the bus”.

The scheme is controversial because of the scale of the spending being proposed.

Last January the Council announced a £1.4 million investment. To that the government has added another £5 million.

It was only in June 2020 that the road was last resurfaced.

Tadcaster Road was last resurfaced in June 2020

Some investment is needed particularly near the College.

But there are other roads and paths in other parts of the City which are in greater near of repair.

This month, two compounds will be constructed along Tadcaster Road – near Sim Balk Lane and Knavesmire Road.

The Council says, “The main construction phase of the works is due to start at the beginning of January, with an estimated completion date of September 2023.

New guidance on pavement café licences will help wheelchair users

In a bid to address the issues identified in deregulated fast-track café license arrangements, the York Council says that a review of the guidelines has informed proposed changes to the council’s licensing guidance and process.

Pavement cafes are popular in York

The review, supported by independent access consultants and in consultation with disabled people, was requested by the Executive on 28 July 2022. It recognises the impact of pavement cafés on access across the city since the guidance on their operation was deregulated by the Government to support businesses during the pandemic.

Senior councillors will be asked to recommend a number of changes to the council’s licensing requirements which have been informed by the review.

According to a Council media release,these would see pavement cafés in pedestrianised streets only allowed on footways if 1.5-metre width remains for people to get past (width increased to 2 metres in high footfall areas, for example, busy junctions, near bus stops, etc).

There is some confusion about the position in non pedestrianised areas like Fossgate and Walmgate. The meeting report (click) actually says “it is recommended that café licences issued under the fasttrack approach are only allowed on footways if 1.5m width remains for people to get past (with the exception of pedestrianised streets with level access between the footway and the carriageway)” which is a bit clearer.

The recommended changes will also improve guidance on setting up a pavement café for businesses and the number of enforcement notices served before enforcement action is taken will go down from 3 to 2 letters.

As part of this work, regular panel will be set up, where York groups and communities can feed back on their experience of pavement cafes. This would then inform any licence reviews, possible access improvements and enforcement action where required.

The updated licensing guidance also requires the licence holder to undertake counter-terrorism training to build on work to protect everyone in the city centre.

Councillor Ashley Mason, Executive Member for Business and Strategic Planning, said:

Whilst pavement cafes are likely to remain for the long term, they are no longer part of an emergency response. A review of the guidance and conditions permitting them has been necessary to recognise and limit their impact on residents and visitors.

“The changes in guidance mostly revert to principles which existed prior to COVID, whilst enabling qualifying businesses to gain licenses quicker and cheaper. When adopted, the new guidance will be used to review applications to renew short-term licences issued for next year. We are committed to continue supporting business, but it must be done with access in mind to ensure the city centre is safe, thriving and accessible for all.”

Inactive cycling and walking programme

York Council plans set to remain on the drawing board as unrealistic hopes hit the financial reality

A report being considered by the Council’s Executive next week confirms what many had already concluded. It’s much hyped “Active Travel” improvement programme is far beyond any likely funding availability.

Acomb Road safety scheme among those likely to be shelved

In total schemes were identified that would cost £36 million to implement. So far only a £2 million budget has been identified, with £800,000 – all from York Council taxpayers – being earmarked for cycle lanes on Hospital Fields Road (which happens to be located in the ward of the Council’s executive member for Transport!).

Hospital Fields Road cycle lanes set to go ahead

Even after nearly two years, the schemes being considered lack any cost-benefit analysis. No attempt has been made, in the published evaluation report, to identify how many extra cycling journeys individual schemes might generate.

Nor is any information provided on the number of accidents on individual streets or what the schemes might do to alleviate the risk.

The Council is now proposing to implement the following schemes

  1. Hospital Fields Road Cycle Scheme
  2. Skeldergate Cycle Improvements
  3. Manor Lane / Shipton Road Improvements
  4. City Centre North-South Cycle Route
  5. City Centre Bridges signage improvements
  6. City Centre Accessibility: St George’s Field Crossing
  7. City Centre Cycle Parking Improvements

Design work only will be completed on the following schemes (at a cost of £350,000)

  • People Streets Ostman Road
  • People Streets Clifton Green Primary
  • People Streets Badger Hill Primary
  • University East-West Campus Link

There is no budget available to build the schemes so this work may be abortive

The following schemes have effectively been shelved although £90,000 may be spent buying land for the (rather unconvincing) Wheldrake – Heslington cycle path scheme

  • A1237 Bridge Cycle Route
  • Orbital Cycle Route – Lawrence / James / Regent St
  • Acomb Road Active Travel Scheme
  • Fishergate Gyratory Ped and Cycle Scheme
  • Fulford Road / Frederick House AT Scheme
  • Rougier St / Tanners Moat Gap
  • Chocolate Works Riverside Path
  • Tang Hall / Foss Islands Path Access

All in all, the Council and City are now paying the price for ill-considered and hasty judgements in the past. Projects were poorly costed. In some cases, the final bill could be ten times the original estimate.

The government is likely to cut its grant support for local Councils later this week so much of the work done may prove to be a waste of time and resources.

 Rather than spending time and money designing school quiet zone schemes (at £700,000 a time), the money would be better invested either in repairing existing infrastructure or on constructing at least the first phases of another scheme.

 Phase one of the Acomb Road scheme in Holgate – near the school – might be a better use of the limited budget available.

Click to enlarge

£3/4 million price tag means another active travel project is shelved in York

The Ostman Road “people streets” scheme aimed to reduce the numbers of parents taking children to school by car.  There had been no accidents involving pedestrians in the area but some described traffic conditions as occasionally chaotic.

Latest plans for Ostman Road

Initial plans were to implement and enforce parking restrictions near the school entrance.

These have grown into a scheme involving 2 pedestrian crossings, a “gateway” feature, footpath widening & resurfacing, bench seating, flower tubs, new road cushions, speed tables etc.

A report being considered next week admits that the new cost of the plan has increased to over £700,000. This is far higher than the budget available under the government’s “active travel” grant scheme.

The original estimated cost of the project was £80,000.

List of York Council active travel schemes and costs January 2021

Over £36,000 has already been spent on the project mainly on initial design work and consultation.

The consultation in 2021 produced a very mixed response. Some parents – including those who transported children with disabilities – said they had no option but to use a car. Others pointed out that restrictions would simply move parking issues onto neighbouring streets.

Officials are recommending that a further £59,000 be spent on design work so that a scheme is ready for implementation should further government grants become available. (We are currently, of course, awaiting the latest government spending review which is likely to see major cuts in expenditure).

The setback is the latest in a series of over-ambitious – and in some cases perverse – decisions by the Council. In its eagerness to be seen to be doing something to help cyclists, several schemes were hastily assembled. Apparently, no cost/benefit analysis was completed.

A bizarre £2 million scheme for a cycle path from Wheldrake to Heslington had to be ditched, and proposals to widen the cycle path across the Ouse on the A1237 proved to be impractical for structural reasons (although the approaches to the bridges are overgrown anyway), while a perfectly feasible proposal to install cycle lanes on Acomb/York Road near the school was sabotaged when a cycling pressure group insisted that provision also be made at the same time on the section of road near The Green (which is very narrow)

Meanwhile, many of the schemes on the Council’s costed and prioritised programme, published in 2016, remain on the shelf. Click to view

University parking problems – one year on

Our story in October 2021

In October of the last year, we looked at the problems that parking associated with York University were having in neighbouring areas (click).

On-street parking chaos on streets like Tranby Avenue had resulted from the introduction of a “Residents Only” parking scheme on the adjacent Badger Hill estate.

Several suggestions for improvements were made including asking the University to be more flexible in the use of the car parks on its campus.

So a year on, how are things now?

The Councillor for the area, Mark Warters, told a council meeting last week that the issues had eased a little

It is clear that the University and CYC have been trying to persuade students and staff not to park inconsiderately on public roads which judging by the current situation has worked to some extent”.

More can be read on the Osbaldwick Parish Councils Facebook page (click)

Today there were only 4 cars parked on Tranby Avenue. Two were parked close together on opposite sides of the road making access for larger vehicles very difficult. One had a notice on the windscreen

Apparently, some of the vehicles are parked permanently on the road having been evicted from Badger Hill where some students let properties don’t have sufficient off street parking space to accommodate all the vehicles of the tenants.

Tranby Avenue Noon 2nd November 2022

Elsewhere, the Hull Road park and ride site was busy with only a small number of free spaces.

The staff car park was almost empty. Unfortunately notices banned “park and stride” were still evident. So you will have to put your bike in your car boot if you want to park there and don’t plan to use the bus

It was a similar picture at the University. Many of the car parks there were heavily used although there were spaces on the casual-use car parks. The car park at the Sports Village was almost empty.

Building work is still going on at the University. This may account for the fact that a number of streetlights on the main arterial road were lit at lunchtime – not a good example for those trying to save energy

Day burning street lights on campus

& for a local authority trying to encouirage cycling, the York Councils failure to keep infrastructure in a good state of repair was evident on Field Lane where cycle path white lines have all but faded away.

Faded cycle path on Field Lane

Lots more to do in the Hull Road area but perhaps the University has adopted a more pragmatic approach to solving its transport issues. If so, it is the right thing to do.

21% drop in numbers cycling in York

The York Council has responded to a Freedom of Information request about cycling numbers in York.

New figures confirm that there has been a 21% reduction in cycle use in City over the last 5 years.

Council report summer 2022

In the summer the Council’s Executive had been told that there had been a significant increase in the numbers cycling in the City.

A report to the June Executive meeting stated “Cycling counter data from across the city has been cleaned and anomalies removed prior to final re-calculation of results during the Autumn, leaving an initial level of 132% of 2009 baseline compared to 113% the previous year”.

This claim raised some eyebrows as it conflicted with national figures, and local observations, that the number of journeys being made, as a result of the pandemic restrictions (by all modes of transport) in the City had reduced.

The Council have now confirmed that the published figures were incorrect and have provided a helpful spreadsheet which details the number of cycling trips being made across 170 measurement locations across the City.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded by clicking this link

The individual counts do reveal some surprises with fewer cyclists using the bridges over the river Ouse except the newly opened Scarborough Bridge.

Usage of some routes – like that across Hob Moor – remains modest and are falling.

Extract from spreadsheet response

The Council response says,

The performance indicator uses a combination of one-off 12 hour manual classified counts:

  • Road bridges over the River Ouse
  • Former York City Council boundary counts on all major radials
  • New City of York Council boundary counts on all major radials
  • Inner cordon counts on all radial routes (including riverside cycle paths) just outside the Inner Ring Road

Plus average 12 hour school-day cycle flows in traffic neutral months (April, May, June, September and October) at all automatic cycle counter sites.

The response goes on to say

Please note that we still have some concerns about the accuracy of some of the data and I have noted the affected sites on the attached spreadsheet.  This solely relates to sites where we have automatic counters and we suspect that either the inductive loops are faulty or the counters themselves are not working properly.  These issues should have been picked up by our maintenance contractor but they have underperformed in the past couple of years and are shortly to be replaced with a new contractor whose first task will be to ensure all cycle counter sites are fully functioning and properly calibrated.

The figures will disappoint many active travel campaigners in the City.

They concentrate their efforts on obtaining new routes and the reallocation of road space while the evidence grows that the principal reason for falling numbers of cycling journeys – as well as more “working from home” – is the poor maintenance of existing path surfaces, signage, lines and other infrastructure.

Some dedicated cycle paths are unsafe to use because of over and undergrowth obstructions

Obstructions on cycle path linking Poppleton and Clifton Moor

City centre access restrictions – Christmas update

Safety measures are set to be implemented in the city centre to protect residents and visitors who will enjoy the city centre over the busy Christmas period.

We continue to believe that arrangements should be made to issue permits to allow access for people with a disability, which prevents them from walking more than a short distance. This would be coupled to photo IDs and a system where a kerbside parking space could be reserved in advance.

Museum shuttle

It is disappointing that the promised shuttle service through the City centre has not yet materialised nor that mobility scooter hire options are not better advertised.

Some of the issues are discussed in a Council report published today click

The Councils plans, which will see temporary hostile vehicle measures installed to protect the city’s busiest areas, follow consultations between Counter Terrorism Police, North Yorkshire Police, Make It York and City of York Council. Cities including Bath, Leeds, Chester and Sheffield are, like York, working with their local police and counter terrorism security advisors to protect high footfall areas.

Temporary and permanent barriers form part of a raft of measures to counter the substantial terrorist threat. This also includes emergency exercises on possible terrorist scenarios, with partners including Make It York, as well as ongoing training events throughout the city to address the threat of terrorism and safeguard visitors and residents.

The temporary security barriers will allow the movement of mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pedestrians through, as well as deliveries by foot and hand carts to support businesses at this economically important and busy time of year.

Make It York is co-ordinating the installation of the temporary barriers at entrances to the footstreet area from 16 November 2022. They are also arranging them to be staffed daily (Monday-Sunday) from 10am to 7pm for the duration of the Christmas Market from 17 November to 23 December.

To support people and businesses in the run-up to and during Make It York’s Christmas market, as is done every year, access for vehicles to the foot streets will be permitted before 10:30am and after 7pm from 17 November until 23 December. Outside this period, the regular footstreet hours will revert to 10.30am to 5pm.

The locations and installation dates for temporary counter terrorism barriers have been shared with disability access groups, city centre residents and businesses. Work has also taken place in the run up to the festive period to address access issues raised during the operation of the measures last year. This includes the installation of additional temporary dropped kerbs by the temporary safety barriers.

The temporary barriers will be in operation till 3 January 2023. In the new year, the temporary barriers will be replaced with permanent, sliding and fixed bollards. These will be similar to those installed in cities including Chester and Newcastle to combat the threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’, like those seen in Liverpool, Toronto, London and Nice. 

Chief Inspector Chris Brumfitt from North Yorkshire Police, said:

Green Lane/Front Street pedestrian crossing work starts on Monday

This may affect users of bus services travelling into, and from, Acomb

The pedestrian crossing at the junction of Green Lane and Front Street will be replaced with new equipment from 31st October with work taking four weeks, the road will be closed 9:30am-4pm on 2nd, 3rd and 4th November – with the rest of the time being signalled for traffic, with a temporary pedestrian crossing.

There will be a change to the layout of the crossing (as indicated on the map).

It is unclear how the now layout will help cyclists exiting Cross Street and wanting to turn right or carry on down Green Lane. The Cross Street cycle lane has formed part of the City cycle network for over 20 years.

The council says that it will be installing more reliable LED signal heads which will use significantly less electricity.

In terms of bus routes CYC’s Public Transport Planner has apparently recommended the following diversions:

  • Service 4 – turn at double roundabout on Front St and return to York via Front Street and Gale Lane.
  • Service 16 – divert via Tudor Rd, Gale Lane and terminate at Front St, turn at double roundabout and return via Gale Lane & Tudor Rd.
  • Service 24 – divert via Front St, Gale Lane and Tudor Rd.

The nearest available bus stop to be serviced by all three operators will be the stop outside Acomb Library

Another 18 months of TIER scooters for York

Council officials have extended the contract to supply electric scooters for use in York until May 2024.

This also means that the – less controversial – green electric hire bikes will also continue to be available in the City

Residents and drivers have expressed concerns about the safety of the scoooters which are only permitted to be used on public carriageways (not paths). However, little or no enforcement action on restricting the use has been seen.

There have been some prosections but mainly relating to overloading the scooters and/or their use while under the influence of alcohol or drugs..

One issue has been that the hire scooters and bikes have taken up parking spaces in cycle stands that otherwise would be available for local cyclists.

Privately owened scooters have been seen in the pedestrian areas – a practice which is also illegal.

No updated accident or usage figures have been published although the scheme is said to enjoy the support of central government.