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Cycle campaign group urge people not to cycle over safety fears

The 'unusual' plea was made after flood defence works caused a popular cycling route to close without a 'viable safe alternative' ...

A cycling campaign group has urged people 'don't cycle' when a popular route closes  for flood defence work next month.

York Cycle Campaign made the unusual plea due to fears there could be a serious accident and claimed the council had failed to provide a 'safe and viable alternative'.

The group said 'cyclists and HGV's don't mix' and raised concerns of a 'long term drop' in cycling in the city. 

It said it was 'very concerned' at the failure of the council and Environment Agency to provide a safe diversion route whilst Terry Avenue, where the work is being carried out, is closed. 

It recommends cyclists avoid the area during working hours and consider alternative means of transport if they need to travel between South Bank and Fishergate, or from the Millennium Bridge to Skeldergate. 

The popular cycling and walking route will close from Monday, 15 March for a year, to allow work on the Clementhorpe flood alleviation scheme.

A campaign spokeswoman said: “Cyclists and HGVs don’t mix and the danger to cyclists at the junction of Butcher Terrace and Bishopthorpe Road is very concerning.

“We fear that the council and Environment Agency’s failure to provide signals in this location will result in a serious collision and it is with great regret that we recommend people avoid cycling in this area during working hours.”

They say that New Walk, offered as a possible diversion, is not suitable because it floods frequently and leaves cyclists stranded.

Another alternative offered was said to involve crossing three busy roads.

The spokeswoman added:  “We fear that without a safe and direct alternative York may see a real long-term drop in cycling. 

“All this at a time when the central Government is promoting active travel and it seems that ‘cycling city’ York is going in the opposite direction.

“It fills us with dismay to recommend that people don’t cycle, but we are deeply concerned that there may be a serious incident.”   

The Environment Agency has previously said the flood protection scheme is a “unique opportunity” to use government money to protect homes and disruption would be minimised as much as possible.

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Bungle_52 | 3 years ago

I think that sums up the current situation nicely. It's not safe for cyclists to cycle on the road and we, as a society, accept that absurdity. People won't cycle until something is done about it. May be road cc with it's new found interest in journalism could ask the PM for a comment.

Smiffi replied to Bungle_52 | 3 years ago

If York Cycling Campaign believe in their "expert" opinion that there truly is a danger to life from this project, the Council and EA need to urgently review their Risk Assessments and risk mitigation measures.  However, I find it extremely hard to believe that the current RA would allow members of the public to be in mortal danger 🤨. My bet is that York Cycling Campaign are using this as a publicity exercise to propagate their own agenda.

morgoth985 replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

Smiffi wrote:

If York Cycling Campaign believe in their "expert" opinion that there truly is a danger to life from this project, the Council and EA need to urgently review their Risk Assessments and risk mitigation measures.  However, I find it extremely hard to believe that the current RA would allow members of the public to be in mortal danger 🤨. My bet is that York Cycling Campaign are using this as a publicity exercise to propagate their own agenda.

Given that members of the public are regularly put in mortal danger all around the country, I'm afraid I don't share your confidence.

ktache replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

On average about 2 cyclists and 9 pedestrians are killed every week on our road network, is that mortal danger enough for you.

Seperated and protected infrastucture goes some way to mitigating some of that risk.

Smiffi replied to ktache | 3 years ago

Any avoidable deaths are bad, but quoting national annual statistics when referencing a single particular project temporarily impacting a short stretch of cycle way is neither helpful nor constructive.  

If the council have been negligent in their assessment of risk mitigation appropriate for this project and this fact has been highlighted by the campaign then they must reassess otherwise they may be found culpable should something awful occur.  It's unlikely that their assessment doesn't adequately mitigate the risks associated with the project though.

If York Cycling Campaign wish to champion the implementation of segregated cycling infrastructure then good for them, but sensationalising a single local project which is designed to protect a cycleway (and I suspect local residents, businesses, and open spaces too) from flooding does not help their cause as it propagates the NIMBY face of cycling and cyclists.

mdavidford replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

Smiffi wrote:

It's unlikely that their assessment doesn't adequately mitigate the risks associated with the project though.

Well they may have judged that it was adequate to get it approved by compliant authorities, rather than adequate to actually protect the safety of vulnerable road users.

nikkispoke replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

Very sadly local authorities and highway departments are well versed at ignoring proper risk assessment and mitigation measures when it comes to people who walk or cycle. The only consideration it seems for many is not to create a problem for people in cars. Part of this is due to culture they are mainly car drivers and only see travel from that view point, part is expediency as they have to deal with existing infrastructure with limited money and part is fear from vocal and influential groups such as councillors and residents who hold positions that can affect careers. The idea of safety and risk assessments when carried out in a honest and open way is to prevent accidents and not to be used as a tool to divide blame once something has occurred, however so much is open to dishonest 'interpretation' until the moment of an incident they are easily circumvented.

David9694 replied to nikkispoke | 3 years ago

Interestingly, it's HM Coroner who's getting interested in some of this, viz smart motorways. 

I read a news story from Kent where a driver had left the road and been killed. All very tragic, of course - all the evidence points to driver error, with no-one else involved. Now it might be considered in poor taste that there was an insurance claim against the deceased to reinstate the crash barriers that got broken, but that led to the family saying the infra on the road didn't save their relative.  It left me thinking - sad though the case was - that here we have an example drivers wanting infra to save drivers from well, drivers - so is it such as big ask that vulnerable road users get some protection?

HarrogateSpa replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

Do you actually understand the importance of Terry Avenue as a bike route in York?

York Cycling Campaign is like others around the country: mainly volunteers, but people who have a deep understanding of the cycling issues on their patch.

Coming here and throwing insults at them is a disgrace. Your comments are disgraceful.

AlsoSomniloquism replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

I suspect the roads mentioned will have lots of tipper trucks and other heavy equipment heading to the work site. As the cycling path will be dumping out lesser experienced cyclists into this area without adding extra signals or mitigation as requested, it could be construed as higher risk. I'm sure York cyclists can help it be explained more though on how they see it. 

Awavey replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
1 like

definitely more local info required, like what the diversion route actually is, or why the original route needs to be blocked for a whole year

this seems to have been in the works for well over a year so youd have thought all the issues would have been aired & resolved by now before the work started

DanaColby85 replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

Hello Smiffi. I'm a cyclist in York (not a member of York Cycling Campaign) and have an interest in this. (And incidentally, erm, so what if they are 'using this as a publicity exercise to propagate their own agenda'? I think you'll find that's what campaign groups generally do!)

To explain: Terry Ave is the showpiece cycle route in the city, a car-free (mostly) stretch from the vital Millennium Bridge to the city centre, past Rowntree Park. It is very well used for leisure and utility trips: it was thronging today (sunny Sunday 28th February) with many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people of all ages walking, jogging, cycling, using wheelchairs and child buggies and so on. 

The EA's flood defence work however will close Terry Avenue for 18 months (not a year as the article says - at least, not according to the notices up on lampposts). This work is not to improve the route, and users of Terry Avenue will not benefit in any way; it is to defend nearby homes.

The problem is not the flood work as such, it is that the EA - with the acquiescence of the council - have failed to come up with *any viable alternative route* for the duration of the works despite having had two years to prepare. 

Their two back-of-a-fag packet suggestions are either:
1. the opposite bank (which is far too small to cope with the current amount of traffic using the combination of riverside paths - it was very congested today, without having to take up any of Terry Avenue's traffic - and which ends up on a dangerous junction on the bridge pictured in the article) 
2. a circuitous route through back streets which takes twice as long, involves three junctions, some narrow roads with parked cars on both sides and not enough space for a cyclist and car to pass between them.

What incenses local cyclists is that they've been completely ignored by both council and EA all through the preparation process, and will now have 18 months (at least) without the city's main, vital, car-free cycle route, and with no sensible or safe alternatives.

Local cyclists are saying they will ignore the ludicrous suggested alternative and ride down the parallel Bishopthorpe Road. That's an unpleasant, busy main road with, I'm afraid, a high proportion of bad and close-passing drivers. There's a lot of brash talk from local cyclists of primary positions, taking the lane and not being intimidated, but even if only a small fraction of the Terry Avenue traffic takes Bishy Rd, that could turn into a lot of unpleasant incidents when motorists find all these damn cyclists using 'their' road. And the vast proportion of current leisure and utility cyclists, I fear, will simply give up and not cycle.

This could have been an opportunity, especially in the current climate, to upgrade Bishy Rd - add segregated cycleways, or turn it into the 'Cars-are-guests' style of road many of us have seen in Belgium or the Netherlands. Bishy Rd is an area of independent shops, artisan cafes and street festivals, and would be ideal for such development. 

Sadly, all such ideas have been ignored. The excuses from the council and EA are all along the lines of time/budget, but frankly I don't believe them. It's a failure of, I'm certain, political will. 

Sorry for replying in such length, but I think this is an important issue, and didn't want to see your rather casual dismissal go unchallenged. If you have been, thanks for reading...


ktache replied to DanaColby85 | 3 years ago
1 like

Thank you for taking the time and effort and giving us a detailed local view.

HarrogateSpa replied to DanaColby85 | 3 years ago

Thanks for the local insight.

I've used Terry Avenue quite a lot over the years, and I'm really disappointed by this news. I can't believe the Environment Agency are going to cause such a big disruption for 18 months.

I've also heard from the Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows that they are really angry with the EA over their attitude to flood works at Clifton Ings/Rawcliffe Ings.

hexhome replied to Smiffi | 3 years ago

York Cycling Campaign does indeed have an agenda. It is to promote cycling by campaigning for improved facilities for cyclists. The background is that the last 10 years has seen a steady reduction in utility cycling in York. This is opposite to the general UK trend and is due to some very short sighted actions by the council.

The route in question is a major route crossing York and joining the only 2 traffic free bridges. It carries huge numbers of walkers, cyclists and hire scooters. It is vital for commuters as well as leisure users. The reason for the shocking stance is that they recognise that the risk of a fatality using the posted alternative routes is extremely high. It's a final stage in a process of engaging with the EA and Council over 18 months.

You will have to ask the EA and City of York Council about their RAs, but believe me, no one who cycles in York finds it hard to believe that they are willing to put us in mortal danger.

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