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York's cycling champion quits saying city becoming… "anti-car"

Tory councillor gets off his bike to become York filter lane martyr

The row over the filter lane for cyclists recently installed at a junction in York has claimed its first victim when the councillor acting as York's cycling champion quit his post, telling the local paper that York was becoming “anti-car”.

Joe Watt a Conservative city councillor who had been the city's cycling champion since May last year told The Press that he had only intended to do the job for a year adding that: ““I have felt uneasy in the role in that it has been difficult getting information out of the council on what they’re proposing to do in various cycling locations.”

Asked by the paper if he felt York was becoming anti-car, he said: “I feel it is drifting too far in that direction”.

The role of York's cycling champion is to act on behalf of the local community to ensure that the city council fully takes account of the needs of cyclists and cycling when making policy.

York's ex-cycling champion then went on to criticise the recently installed filter lane for cyclists: I think it’s important that in promoting cycling we don’t take an anti-car stance, and being a cyclist and a motorist, I can see the importance of traffic flowing. That scheme at Clifton Green is just creating more congestion.”

It is not known whether York has a motoring champion but if the city council is looking for someone who can see things from both sides…

Councillor Steve Galloway who is responsible for transport in York told the Press: “I am at something of a loss to understand Joe Watt’s position. He has been asked to contribute to a range of discussions about cycling facilities.”

And defending the filter lane he said: “That particular scheme was approved at an executive member advisory panel meeting with only one vote against and following public consultation.

“Providing cyclists with safe, priority routes is a key part of our strategy to persuade people away from the use of the car.”

Read more, watch Councillor Watt riding his bike and enjoy the er, measured debate on The Press website.

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.

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