York is regarded as one of the country’s premier cycling cities, with an extensive network of off-road cycle paths and on-road cycle lanes and ample cycle parking provided throughout the city.
It was awarded Cycling City status, and £3.68m of government money was provided to help fund further improvements to cycling facilities in the city and get more people cycling. Indeed, the City of York Council is organising a car-free day next month to reduce traffic congestion in the city.
But not everyone, it would seem, is in support of getting onto their bikes. Angry Acomb residents launched a petition to stop a planned cycle lane in their street and have told City of York Council it cannot force people to cycle more.
The council hopes to use Government money to build an extension to the recently-built cycle lane in Beckfield Lane. But organisers of the petition which has more than 60 signatures are furious at the prospect of the path going over grass verges and say it would be a hazard for the many elderly residents living at that area of Beckfield Lane.
Barry Tait, 71, told The Press in York: “Everyone believes that it is entirely inappropriate to destroy grass verges and pathways in a residential area to make way for cycling. The roadway itself should be utilised and if necessary widened and if this is not possible, then a cycle track should not be installed.
“Another concern was the danger there would be when reversing out of their driveways. Many have limited visibility due to existing hedges and trees and whereas a pedestrian would invariably stop at a drive when seeing a vehicle exiting, a speeding cyclist may not readily do so. You must accept that you cannot force all of York’s residents on to bicycles. For many it is just not an option available to them.”
Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, who represents Acomb on City of York Council, also agreed. She told The Press: “There are many dangerous roads in the city that cyclists, including those going to school, use daily without even on-road cycle lanes. Beckfield Lane does not fall into this category.”
Councillor Steve Galloway, head of City Strategy at the council, said his decision would come after a period of public consultation. “There is an off-road cycle lane established at the end of Beckfield Lane. So what the people opposed to this must prove is that the extension is not suitable for their end of Beckfield Lane.”
The City of York Council car-free day is on Tuesday, September 22 and people will be encouraged to choose other ways of getting around rather than in their cars.
Means of transport such as public buses and bicycles will be highlighted, as the council aims to show motorists cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly alternatives to using the car.
Damon Copperthwaite, assistant director for City Development and Transport for City of York Council, said: "York Car Free Day is about encouraging people who would usually drive into the city to try cycling, using buses or walking for the day.”