York Green Party Transport Policy launched by Sian Berry

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, Councillor Denise Craghill and Andy D'Agorne

Sian Berry, Co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales helped launch York Green Party’s transport policy at a well attended meeting at the Healing Clinic. Over 30 people attended to hear Councillor Andy D’Agorne and Sian Berry present the policy.

Andy D’Agorne’s presentation of the transport policy:

The recent scientific guidance from the UN body of scientists studying climate change (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) has made clear the urgency of a complete change of direction on our use of fossil fuels – a decade to bring about dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions. Zero Carbon Britain report published by the Centre for Alternative Technology demonstrated how we could cut energy demand by 60% by 2030, with a 50% cut in heating of our buildings and a 78% cut in energy for transport. That is massive even compared to the progress made since the Climate Change Act 2008 a decade ago.

York’s transport story

So what have we achieved in the past decade on local transport in York and how does that compare with the task set by the need to limit climate change and cut emissions?

Our Transport Policy needs updating from the 2011 -2016 timeframe action plan within Local Transport Plan 3 set in 2011, which set the aim of limiting traffic growth for the period to 7%

Worsening Air Quality has been reversed in the last two years, with a Clean Air Zone for the most frequent bus services coming into effect from 2020

No Idling sign

Park and ride services have grown and expanded with one new and one enlarged park and ride site added to give us 6 locations with ultra low emission or electric services to serve all routes by the end of the year. Evening services have been introduced on some of them and our budget amendment proposed secure overnight parking facilities to cater for weekend visitors to the city.

We have had several government grants as a Low Emission City developing a network of
electric charging points in council car parks and at park and ride sites.

Residents Parking only zones (Respark) are spreading out from the city centre in response
to growing levels of on street commuter parking. There have been setbacks in charging policy (more later)

As associate member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority we have successfully secured nearly £80m of infrastructure funding split between £36m for enlarging 7 roundabouts on the ring road and a similar amount for the centre, focussed on a new access road into the York Central site and the station frontage proposals to remove a redundant bridge and create more pedestrian friendly environment with better bus and cycle provision.

Government funding of £28m has been hinted at in ministerial statements to dual a section of the northern ring road between the A19 and A64 at Hopgrove. Roundabouts have been designed to cater for this and where appropriate provide safe underpass facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

Better provision for cyclists included the signed  ‘orbital route’ established in 2009, the segregated route alongside the ring road between WIggington and Haxby Roads linking to schools and the Clifton Moor area. The 3 year cycle city funding of £4.6m funded a lot of personal travel planning work in the north of the city under the ‘itravelyork’ banner which is still an important website hub for information on sustainable travel. The soon to re-open walking and cycling route over Scarborough Bridge linking the Bootham and Minster area directly to the station is the biggest cycle infrastructure scheme in York funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Walking as a mode of transport to and within the city centre has been largely ignored except for the Re-invigorate York projects of King Sq and Fossgate (underway at the moment). Other areas which had been identified such as Duncombe Place, Coppergate/Piccadilly St Leonards Place/ Gillygate all stalled after the Lendal
Bridge bus priority scheme was abandoned.

In 2015 Greens proposed a trial free shuttle bus service such as operates in places like Huddersfield Dewsbury and Wakefield – repeating this in our budget amendment this week the Leader responded to point out that these services are funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (the same source as our funding for work on the ring road roundabouts!) In 2015 we also supported the notion of a cross party Congestion Commission – both of these were ditched by the incoming/ current Tory/Lib Dem administration.

So what are the Greens proposing for the next decade, or at least the next 4 year term of the new council to be elected in May 2019?

A key aim of our transport policies is to reduce the overall amount of traffic on our roads, aiming for excellent and affordable public transport, and good walking and cycling provision while giving priority to those who most need a car because of disability or the nature of their work. While we fully understand the frustrations of motorists regularly caught up in traffic jams, national and international professional evidence has shown that building more roadspace is far less cost effective than investing in good quality sustainable alternatives – for this reason we oppose proposals for dualling the ring road and would instead invest the money instead in bus, rail and other sustainable transport options

In our budget amendment this week we flagged up a whole range of alternative spending options for the £2.8m proposed out of York’s capital spending this year on preparations for dualling the ring road. This would fund half a million pounds each for Pedestrian Priority, Disabled Access, Better buses and Cycling infrastructure. We would also put £200k into our proposal to trial a free city centre shuttle bus linking up the different departure points with the station and the hospital. Other initiatives include provision for secure overnight parking at park and ride sites to encourage weekend visitors to leave their car outside the city, and reduce pressure on city centre public and hotel parking. A clean air project officer would help to drive forward parent education (at schools) and anti idling messages as well as working in support of school and business travel advisers.

York is crying out for successful bold measures to transform our city streets from car dominated noisy places to places for people, something we very much hope will eventually emerge from the Castle Gateway project with the Castle Car Park becoming heritage and event space, Tower Gardens being rejuvenated as the mooring for the Arts Barge and reunited with the rest of the area by downgrading Tower St. In the longer term now that Micklegate is being reclaimed for people (with the outbound cycle only trial) there is the possibility of revisiting the proposal set out in LTP3 in 2011 of dedicating Ouse Bridge to exclusive use by buses, cycles pedestrians and local access. Coppergate might also become one way allowing widening of pavements (as is happening now on Fossgate) and reducing the severance of the Coppergate Centre and Castle area from the rest
of York City Centre.

In the wider picture we will take a strategic approach in the context of a Local Plan that envisages 15,000 new houses by 2030, a significant proportion of which located in rural hinterland around York. Integrated high quality public transport is needed, potentially tram or light rail from the city centre out to University of York (Heslington East) with a planned extension out to the 3500 new households proposed for Elvington. Our budget amendment switched funding for preparation work on new roads to a study to look at realistic options for such a project.

As previously stated reversing year on year growth in car traffic requires shifting funds for expanding the ring road to public transport, walking cycling, car share etc as proposed in our budget amendment! We support the recent  University of York Students Union call for a ‘public inquiry’ into bus services in the city, particularly areas poorly served or with few or even no evening services. The current subsidy for social routes needs better managing. City of York Council should be working more closely with parish councils, employers, entertainments venues etc to promote services with bold promotions. City centre parking charges and limitations for on street ‘free’ parking help to promote public transport, but care is needed to ensure park and ride complements rather than competes with local bus services.

Alongside this we need better infrastructure for walking and cycling – for example the proposed ‘flood proof’ access and super-crossing directly across Fishergate from St Georges Field into the Castle Museum area and across a new bridge to Piccadilly. We want to see a strategy in place to keep priority walking and cycling routes such as Millennium Bridge and Hungate Bridge safe to use all year round, including during snow and ice. We would aim to create ‘Dutch style’ segregated cycle routes as are being introduced in many London Boroughs. Our priority would initially be gaps in off road routes where cyclists end up sharing a road with large vehicles eg Hospital Fields Rd which links the Millennium Bridge and riverside routes to the Walmgate Stray access to the University.

Another initiative that is widespread in London Boroughs is on street provision of secure cycle parking for residents living in terraced streets with little under cover storage space. It seems rather ironic that the streets can be filled with cars with no one batting an eyelid but all sorts of objections have come up to the idea of providing for 6 bikes in a space taken by one car – we will shortly have the first trial ‘bike hangar’ made by a company called cyclehoop installed in Fishergate ward on Heslington Rd. I expect that the publicity will create a clamour from other areas of the city wanting to be part of such provision.

So as you can see, changing our car culture is as much about reclaiming our streets and urban spaces as places for recreation, social interaction and healthy activity as it is about removing the noise, congestion and pollution created by traffic. We need to convince more people that this is the way to go, just as the people of Amsterdam and Copenhagen did 40 years ago.

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