Greens welcome radical transport proposals for York, urging the council to speed up proposed action to tackle congestion

Traffic jam in Tower Street

York Green Party has broadly welcomed the majority of ‘policy ideas’ in the council’s draft Transport Strategy (consultation on which closed this weekend) but says they are most concerned to see real progress made on the ground.

Transport spokesperson Andy D’Agorne says “This is an ambitious programme that aims to meet our carbon reduction targets, tackle air pollution, reduce congestion and improve York’s transport systems. We are happy to support most of it. The challenge will be to avoid York’s continuing tendency to produce good strategies which it fails to implement effectively.”.

“As we have experienced with many active travel projects we have changes already designed and ready to go but as with the Tadcaster Rd scheme are over- running and over budget. Programmes to transform bus travel such as bus priority measures are well behind schedule and at risk of us losing the funding secured from external sources.”

“We are in a climate emergency. We have growing demand for travel in a finite space, a health crisis and an economy which is slowly recovering from the pandemic.

 Despite clear financial challenges, this administration has a clear mandate and a near full term of office in which to take radical action to fix our transport network. Government policy, the new mayoral authority and transport funding (such as the Bus Service Improvement Plan) present us with a narrow window to deliver the changes we urgently need. We now need to see a prioritised delivery plan to demonstrate how it can deliver on these targets and aspirations in a reasonable timescale.“

The Green Party’s detailed response highlights the following: 

Strong support for a ‘healthy places’ approach to local communities (existing and new) with much better access to local shops, schools and services using active travel (walking and cycling).

Accessibility: Equality of access must include creating a more inclusive bus network to reduce social isolation and dependence on private cars – The dial a ride service needs to be restored and incorporated into wider mobility options, taking account of planned future changes access health and other services. New services such as hospital or city centre ‘shuttle buses’ should be fully considered.

Speed and safety: Adopting ‘Vision Zero’ approach to gradually eliminating road collisions, would be enabled through extending 20mph areas to include villages, the city centre including station frontage and retail parks such as Monks Cross and Clifton Moor in any locations where vulnerable road users share the road.

City centre: The ‘footstreets’ area should be clearly signed as maximum 10mph at all times of the day and steps taken to limit any traffic not accessing premises within the area.

Bus services: To achieve a 50% increase in bus use by 2030 in line with the policy target, reliable early and late services to all communities are key to reducing car dependence, including bus services for new developments from the first few houses being occupied.

Under the new mayoral authority, Greens want to see greater local control of bus services (such as has recently been introduced through franchising in Manchester).

Bus priority: The significant delay to bus services crossing the city centre last December indicate the urgency for more bus priority, government funding for which has to be spent by March 2025.

 “York’s Bus Service Improvement Plan desperately needs to tackle unreliable services to save us from a spiral of decline, with urgent implementation and enforcement of key bus priority measures” according to York Green Party.

York station improvements: Sustainable transport options at York Station need to include Escooter/ Ebike hire, more bus routes that connect to the new interchange and early and late park and ride services (linked to times for first /last London trains), rather than the planned new station multi storey car park.

Park and Ride hubs: The party also want to see the overnight parking option at park and ride sites (for which funding has been secured) progressed more quickly, as part of a green tourism strategy.

Measures to reduce car dependency in order to reduce the number of miles travelled by 20% by 2030 are seen as an essential step to avoiding greater congestion from the big new developments identified in the draft Local Plan. The party recognises that designing new communities around active travel, good local services and more attractive bus services is key to limiting growth of congestion over an even wider area.

Work with partners: There is broad support for working more closely with schools and employers to promote healthy lifestyles, active travel, car sharing and use of pool cars. The idea of an annual programme of campaigns such as walking and cycling to school /work, ‘car free days’ and working closely with partners including major employers, universities, schools and colleges is very much supported.

Freight and Air Quality: Action on freight and logistics is something seen as a priority to provide cleaner air, safer streets and business certainty. This would include drive towards greater use of cargo bikes and small electric vans especially in the city centre. Designated routes for HGV deliveries (using the largest lorries) that exclude use of smaller residential roads would help to reduce noise and pollution with transhipment to last mile cargo bike delivery encouraged. The Greens suggest that a clear deadline for introducing a commercial vehicle ULEZ zone covering everywhere within the outer ring road (and potentially also the Designer Outlet) would help reduce dangerous air pollution and give businesses time to plan for freight transhipment and/or vehicle replacement.

Traffic enforcement + street maintenance: Recognising the limits on council resources, the party suggest that reducing traffic levels and making walking, cycling and bus use more attractive is the way to minimise the need for enforcement, with ‘rule breaking’ and inconsiderate parking often arising from current frustrations with delays and time pressures on road users. Poor street and path maintenance such as leaves and litter left for months, blocked drains and uneven surfaces can further discourage walking and cycling.

Walking and cycling barriers/ routes: While the survey asks about routes to benefit those living in the villages and outer suburbs, safe attractive crossing points over busy routes around the city centre are equally important, and highlighted in the yet to be published draft LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan).

Crossings: It is suggested that some high volume crossings such as at the end of Coney St might reflect this by defaulting to green signal for pedestrians, periodically allowing traffic to pass rather than the other way around! Crossings in general should be designed to give greater priority, single stage to cross the whole road with much less delay for pedestrians, especially on routes crossing the ‘inner ring road’.

Transport scheme priorities: The party feel that better signed safe cycle routes across the city centre are needed as well as better provision around major destinations such as the Hospital, Monks Cross Clifton Moor, between Heslington East and the original campus, and at weak points along the ‘orbital route’ such as James St and Clifton Green.

Light rail study: There should be a full feasibility study for a light rail link from the major strategic housing site a Elvington and the University (potentially extending into the city centre).

City centre car parking:  Removing Castle Car Park for new public space (except for retained disabled parking) is something that needs progressing as part of an overall review of long term parking strategy for the city. Residents Parking zones need to cover all areas of terraces housing within walking distance of the city centre to ensure commuters and visitors use the park and rides or formal city centre car parks.

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