Battle lines drawn over bike and pedestrian-friendly features in York and Shrewsbury
York residents back retention of new cycle lane, but Shrewsbury's cabbies slam pedestrian crossing
York and Shrewsbury are home to two of Britain’s best preserved medieval centres, and both have provided the setting for plenty of historical drama down the years. Right now, however, it’s 21st Century traffic management schemes favouring cyclists and pedestrians that have residents of both places – each of which benefits from Cycling Town & City status – up in arms.
In York, the majority of residents who replied to a survey regarding the proposed reinstatement of a filter lane at a key road junction in the city, replacing a cycle lane that was introduced last year, have expressed that they are opposed to the plans.
According to a report in the York Press, they have been joined in opposing the proposals by the emergency services and local cycling campaign groups.
Following the introduction of the cycle lane at Water End, where cars were previously able to turn left, there has been an increase in motor traffic on Westminster Road and The Avenue as a result of drivers seeking a short cut that would avoid the traffic lights.
Ken King, councilor for Clifton ward, expressed surprise at the volume of support for keeping the cycle lane in place, telling the newspaper: “I’m incredibly surprised by this response given the strength of feeling ward councillors have encountered since the lane was removed.
“We will look at the results of the survey over the coming days and analyse residents’ responses.
“Far and away the largest number opposing reinstatement are categorised as coming from ‘elsewhere’, rather than from a named street, so we need confidence that these people have not responded from every corner of the city before drawing proper conclusions from the results.”
The final decision on whether or not to put the filter lane back in place will be made next month by Councillor Steve Galloway, the council’s executive member for city strategy.
Meanwhile, in Shrewsbury, taxi drivers want a new central reservation in the town centre to removed, saying that it is not safe, causes traffic congestion and is affecting their trade.
A pedestrian crossing was put in place in September between Roushill and the Frankwell footbridge, providing a link from a walking and cycling route that runs along Smithfield Road to Roushill Raven Meadows and Meadow Place.
However, according to the Shropshire Star, the central reservation has come under fire from cabbies who claim it has led to the road becoming congested each day.
Robbie Bruce, who operates two cab firms in the town, Bruce’s Taxis and Access Cars, told the newspaper: “I’ve been in the business for 23 years and I’ve never seen the traffic as bad as this. It’s been backing up as far as the Beacon Hotel in Copthorne.” He continued: “It’s affecting business.”
Steve Slater of Vincent Taxis also called for the pedestrian crossing to be taken away, saying: “It’s been put in the middle of nowhere. It’s causing mayhem and it really needs to be removed.”
However, Richard Harman, speaking on behalf of Shropshire Council, insisted it would remain, saying: “Improved crossing facilities for this location on Smithfield Road were requested by a number of people during the Connect2 consultation last year.
“The crossing was trialled during a busy period in the summer and was shown to have limited impacts to traffic congestion through the adjoining junctions and rest of town,” he added.