Cycling and Walking in Castle Gateway

19th April 2018

We met up at Cycle Heaven to take a full look at walking and cycling in and through Castle Gateway. We looked back at aspects of the brief for walking and cycling developed through My Castle Gateway process and then Andy Kerr, project lead for Castle Gateway, set out how ideas have been interpreted in the masterplan. Throughout, as we discussed the plans, we were noting where decisions have yet to be made and identifying areas for further work and further discussions.

We won’t repeat the plans for cycling and walking here in full, but we will introduce key proposals below as part of our discussions. The summary of proposals for Castle Gateway can be explored here and the proposals can be read in full here (link to Exec).

Supercrossing / car movement

There would be a new supercrossing from St George’s Field to the back of the Castle Museum, which would be opened up with a path and new bridge over to Piccadilly.

There was a question about traffic modelling, ‘have you modelled what will happen with the traffic from Bishopthorpe Road?’ Andy explained that ‘Transport consultants WSP have been working as part of the Castle Gateway work, they’ve done a lot of modelling specifically looking at the right turn into Piccadilly, the right turn in and out of the car park. It wasn’t possible to get the right hand turn for cars and cyclists out of Tower Street onto Skeldergate Bridge or the right turn for cyclists out of Piccadilly but we are still looking at whether these issues can be resolved’.

The example of the Sheffield supercrossing was given (from the station into the city). It was noted that there is no real segregation of pedestrians and cyclists on the station side. As a result they ‘get a bit mixed up at peak times and it becomes a mush of cyclists and pedestrians’ and might benefit from segregation on both sides rather than just one.

It was noted that it was important to get the phasing of traffic lights right so there was more time for pedestrians to get across.

There was the question of cyclists on gyratory and how cyclists might use the supercrossing to leave the gyratory and join the cycle paths in either directions.

Cycle routes from Fulford/Fishergate

Andy introduced the plans for the cycle and pedestrian routes from Fulford/Fishergate by the Ouse.  In terms of the Foss Basin, ‘because of the lock and how narrow the path gets at this point, there was concern that there wasn’t enough space for a shared space with walking and cycling’.  Instead of a wide sweeping bridge, because of the width of the lock, there would be ‘smaller bridge across the lock and weir, looking like a lock gate bridge, but it would be step free access (removing the current steps before the lock) to make it possible for prams, buggies and wheelchair users’.

Instead Andy introduced the idea of a dedicated cycle route that crosses Blue Bridge and then skirts right through St George’s Field directly over to the new supercrossing. The current plan shows a wiggly route for this but this was just indicative and a more direct route was being considered. There were questions about whether the cycle route would cross the vehicle access to either the car park or coach park. The answer was ‘no, it would be closer to the line of the Foss Basin’. There would be ‘two paths, one for cyclists and one for pedestrians’.

Andy said that with St George’s Field flooding, ‘it is not to say Foss Basin couldn’t be used by cyclists but we wouldn’t be promoting that as a primary route’.

Blue Bridge / a new bridge?

Blue Bridge is crucial to the plan for a segregated cycle route through St George’s Field.

But Blue Bridge was noted as not accessible for disabled cyclists, children or people pedalling cargo bikes. Andy mentioned that the council conservation team don’t think it is a listed structure but they are looking in more detail at the records. But a number of people noted that even if it is not, Blue Bridge is much loved. It was asked then if there was any possibility of a second bridge being put in and then Blue Bridge could remain as a pedestrian only bridge. Andy said that ‘there is no reason to say we can’t consider that but an additional bridge would also impact on the setting of the Blue Bridge so again would need careful consideration’.

Then there were a few creative suggestions for how make a new bridge really exciting. It could be

‘like the Millennium Bridge’

‘Do something unusual, like a xylophone bridge’

‘If pedestrians and cyclists are separated here at Blue Bridge then – via a new bridge – cyclists could go along to the right over St George’s Field past the pumping station and meet the supercrossing’

‘And maybe if the cycle path was a bit higher, it wouldn’t flood as much’.

Shared space – the perspective of people who are blind and partially sighted

A need for proper wayfinding for people who are blind and partially sighted was noted. Exhibition Square and Kings Square were noted as recent developments that have failed to do this well.

Good examples from elsewhere were given of:

  • Switzerland, where you have the zig zag tactile surfacing on pavements, and that consistently works its way through, markings that guide dogs will understand,
  • Utrecht town centre – ticket strips, way finding.
  • Tokyo where there are textured strips everywhere.

High contrast colours were recommended as ‘lots of pale colours disappear for people who are partially sighted’ – signage posts can be a problem. “They look better when they’re light, but…”

In was noted as important to differentiate wayfinding routes from cycling routes and for there to be clarity over when cyclists might cross.

Contraflows for cyclists

In general there was a question about wherever traffic was one way for motor vehicles that it remain two way – contraflow – for cyclists. ‘The one way system for cyclists is a pain’.

‘Make Coppergate one-way – remain two ways for cycling – a contraflow’.

‘Walmgate and St Denys should be contraflow’

‘Any streets that one way for motor vehicles should by default be contraflow for cyclists’.

‘Contraflow would help shorten cycle journey distances, make it more competitive for short local journeys’.

‘There is now simplified signage for contraflow. That is norm in mainline Europe. It doesn’t require a white line on the road – just signage’.

It was noted that since the change of direction of Fossgate one-way, ‘a disappointingly large number of cyclists were riding the wrong way up the section of Walmgate which leads into it, creating danger at the end where buses turn. This shows there is such a demand that we should formally make this contraflow’.

A member of the group who has low vision did say ‘I got caught out by a bike on Fossgate’.

All agreed that there needs to be consistency: if contraflow policy is adopted throughout York people know to expect bikes from both directions even on one way streets.

Footpath between the Foss and Coppergate Centre

It was asked ‘What is happening the footpath that goes behind Coppergate?’

‘If that could be made more appealing, that would be good!’

Andy said this would be looked at along with pedestrian/cyclist aspects of the public space brief for the whole of the Eye of York.

Bike Parking

Andy said, ‘We’re not showing where bike parking could be yet –  that will be discussed as part of the engagement on detailed design’.

There is real benefit to streets like Fossgate of cycling contraflow as you can stop easily, get off and bob in.

‘But for that to work – need one or two free standing bike racks, every fourth shop or so’

‘I’d second that for someone who is disabled, my bike is my mobility aid’.

The best solution is more regularity of smaller numbers on streets like Fossgate/Micklegate – but also big clusters for city centre.

Locker type bike parking was discussed as potentially sited in the existing the tunnel area under the Coppergate Centre.

‘Long stay and secure. That could be useful for cyclists using the long distance cycle route’.

There was an appeal for non-standard bike parking including large cargo bike parking.

‘the new public space will be a focus place for people to come to the centre with their children, so we need to cater for cargo bikes (Copenhagen SUVs!)’.

‘You can’t get the cargo bikes next to the Sheffield rack’ but there are alternatives which fold up from the pavement.

‘Inclusive cycling really needs different types of racks. Adapted bikes can have fragile components which need different provision’.

Tower Street and connections through to Ouse Bridge

Tower Gardens has no development marked on the masterplan as there is still work to do there. Someone noted that ‘the big positive of the changes in traffic down Tower Street is that it will be better for cyclists on the route via Tower Gardens to Tower Street and onwards’.

The benefits of a quieter Tower Street was noted as will enable better movement between Tower Gardens to the new public space.

‘In terms of connecting Tower Gardens to this public space we need to double the width of the opening to Tower Gardens and halve the width of the road, and open up the public space’.

‘the Street furniture of the crossing impacts on view of Clifford’s Tower’

We then had some discussion about closing Tower Street to cars.

‘The Micklegate closure was very popular and a lot of traders are in favour now’

‘Reduce Tower Street traffic, you could have a one way bus route and much more public realm’

Andy said, ‘We did look at making Ouse Bridge bus only but the WSP modelling showed that does have significant impact on the rest of the traffic network’.

It was noted that ‘Tony May’s work does look at the collective effect of broader individual proposals. His position is that by looking at the network as a whole you could probably close Ouse Bridge’.

‘There are knock on effects, in isolation you can’t do it. It needs to be a city wide approach to those things.’

‘If there is going to be such a big intervention via the Castle Gateway project – then this is the time, rather than doing things separately’.

Andy said that Work Package 1 will begin immediately but that nothing in Work Package 1 will prevent other aspects of Tony May’s proposal being implemented at a later stage.

In terms of further up Tower Street, it was noted that the pavement near York Dungeons ‘needs to be wider, as with the queues for York Dungeons people step out’.

‘the bus laybys will be going further down, which will make a bit more room’.

Not just about how it looks and air quality – how will it sound?

‘In this space, you are looking at performance and events, you’ve got traffic running around

– how is that going to work?’

‘We are modelling visuals and air quality but what about sound quality?’

‘You are going to struggle with the traffic noise. It could ruin the whole concept of the public space (in the Eye of York). Even with buses, it would only be okay if they were electric and quiet’.

Buses

Tower Street is the major bus route. If Coppergate was made one way to buses then the resulting “loop” route would direct more buses along Tower Street.

Blue Badge parking

What is going to happen to the Blue Badge parking? Andy said that ‘Castle Gateway is a catalyst to answer a lot of city wide issues and as part of developing a city wide strategy, we are aware there are a lot of disabled car parking bays in Castle Car Park’.

‘There are currently the plans to barricade off the city centre as anti-terrorism measures, which will affect blue badge parking’?

‘I am torn on the bollards. On one hand I am a frequent blue badge user and this will affect me getting close into town. Or the other hand, it will make getting around in town with limited mobility easier, without worrying about getting flattened by traffic. We do also have a very good shopmobility scheme’.

‘Is there any thinking going on about a proper shuttle service for wheelchair users?’

Fishergate Gyratory

We had some discussion about alternative uses for one side of the Fishergate Gyratory.

‘Once side of the gyratory is just for people filtering off into Tower Street. With no right turn into Tower Street could we create a two way cycle route.  If you get rid of that option then you have much more space to put in much more infrastructure’.

‘This is what we all need for the sake of our children and children’s children, not to have the city as a diesel sewer’.

‘Removing cars from Ouse Bridge and hence Tower Street means there is much less traffic feeding into the Fishergate gyratory – this could free up more space for cyclists’.

Next steps:

  • Identify where My Castle Gateway conversations can connect into strategic discussions in other parts of the council (e.g. on Blue Badge Parking / Contraflow)
  • Identify areas for detailed design conversation for Work Package 1 (e.g. the supercrossing, St Georges Field cycle route)
  • Ensure YBPSS have all the Castle Gateway resources so they can look at them together in their social inclusion group.

 

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