20th February 2019
On 20th February we had a workshop looking specifically, and in detail, at the movement plans for Castle Gateway with a focus on the proposed junctions on the Fishergate Gyratory.
The session included Andy Kerr, Castle Gateway Project Lead and Tony May, York Civic Trust as well as people joining the discussion from the perspective of Cycling UK; Environment Agency; Green Howards Regiment, Cllr Denise Craghill and, over the 2 hours, 10 or so other interested people dropped in and out.
Andy began by introducing the principles and proposals for movement set out in the Castle Gateway masterplan:
• Cars and Parking: Part of the brief given by the Council Executive for the Castle Gateway project was to maintain the revenue generated by the Castle Car Park. There was also a commitment from the council, responding to arguments from retailers, to retain city centre parking. In order to make it possible to make the new public space where the Castle Car Park is currently, car parking will be replaced by the new multi-storey car park on St George’s Field. In terms of the Fishergate Gyratory this was proposed to be enabled by new signalised junctions (i.e. with traffic lights) from Tower Street/Skeldergate Bridge onto the Gyratory, into St George’s Field and into Piccadilly.
• Walking and Cycling: To make Castle Gateway more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists, the masterplan included creating a river route that followed the Foss into the city centre via a new supercrossing over the road into the green space to the south of the Castle Museum and over a new bridge into Piccadilly. There are also plans for a pedestrian, and possibly a cycling route, up the side of the Female Prison and into the new public space that will replace Castle Car Park.
Andy updated us on the work that has been done over the past few months.
• Right turn into St George’s Field – is a definite to avoid cars having to head around the gyratory loop and create the pedestrian crossing point. There would be no right turn out of St George’s Field as it would add an additional delay to traffic and cars only have to go a short distance round the gyratory anyway.
• Signalised junction into Piccadilly – is being questioned, is it needed as a priority?
• Signalised junction at Tower Street/Skeldergate Bridge – is also being questioned, is it needed as a priority?
One issue is cost. Only doing the right turn into St George’s Field, would reduce costs by £3.5m. For the funds the council needs to apply to the West Yorkshire Transport Fund. West Yorkshire Transport Fund requires the use of a tool called WebTAG (Website for Transport Analysis Guidance) which measures economic benefits or disbenefits. But WebTAG counts any delays for vehicles as an economic disbenefit, while benefits for the pedestrians and cyclists don’t carry the same weight in the tool. So WebTAG is brilliant at valuing interventions which improve things for vehicular road users but not for cyclists and pedestrians. The council has now employed consultants who are going to look at how to use WebTAG in a creative way, taking into account the broader context.
Questions asked included:
‘Has it been considered to fund the changes from a different funding source?’
‘Has it been assessed it in terms of the transport hierarchy? At some point we need to be plan driven not funding driven’
It was noted that the interventions done first do not prevent the other ideas being implemented further down the line as funding becomes available. We then explored the issues from different perspectives.
Questions asked included:
‘Can we get rid of the dual carriageway?’ ‘Traffic just whizzes by’
‘From the perspective of pedestrians, cyclists and buses, I don’t care about additional congestion on the inner ring road’
‘How do these plans fit within the wider structure of the inner ring road?’
‘Induced traffic:- by increasing capacity you increase likelihood of driving and the reverse is true. Disappearing traffic.’
Andy said that ‘the gyratory is the best system to cope with the volume of traffic’ so the only alternative would be to reduce traffic volume which can not be solved by the Castle Gateway project in isolation.
Questions asked included:
‘the railings make it a pedestrian no go area’
‘the railings are related to stopping people crash into pedestrians’
‘If we can’t slow the traffic down, we need the railings’
‘we need to talk about where people are trying to get to’
‘should the crossing be two separate lights (with a stop in the middle) or across all four lanes?’
‘A break in the middle would be problematic – not enough width and bikes would be especially short of space’
‘People follow the lines of the city wall – east-west movement – we need to have protected crossings for pedestrians at the end of Tower Street/Skeldergate bridge’.
Andy: Reconnecting the walls is key thing we want to do. Maybe over the new bridge with access to the Castle Walls?
Crossing at bottom of Piccadilly and top of Tower Gardens
‘Does it have to be signalised / zebra / raised platform (courtesy crossing)?’
Tony May said that it did and this kind of raised platform courtesy crossing is only appropriate up to 400 vehicles per hour – but it is 600 or 700 on Gyratory. A courtesy crossing could work on Tower Street – could this also help with the flood barrier (see below)?
Lead Mill Lane – ‘can we close Lead Mill Lane to stop the rat run over to Walmgate?’
When looked at from Parliament Street, most people don’t cross down into Piccadilly – this is partly what makes it feel so separate from the city centre; railings and the lights phasing are not appropriate given relatively low levels of traffic.
Tony May suggested: ‘This is a simple and low cost idea; a quick win for Castle Gateway. Keep the traffic signals and introduce an all green for pedestrian after every green for traffic with pedestrians able to cross in all directions. Ideally encourage diagonal crossings by installing a raised table’.
Questions asked included:
‘Could there be a right turn out from Piccadilly for cyclists?’
‘Could there be a cycle right turn from Tower Street onto Skeldergate Bridge?’ ‘Could this happen without any need for lights’?
‘Can we turn Fossgate and Walmgate into a better cycling route?’
‘The Department of Transport simplified requirements, you can now do a counter flow cycling without a continuous marked contraflow lane. This could be implemented in a lot of connecting streets and make the road next work more permeable to cycling’
‘YBPSS – hate contraflow because people don’t know want direction bikes are coming from’
‘There is a commitment to consult further on the pedestrianisation of Fossgate’
‘Cyclists using Skeldergate Bridge – are there ways that cyclists access can be improved?’
‘Cyclists don’t like the railings on Fishergate Gyratory – the cycle lane peters out when you get to the roundabout’
‘Cycle parking – what are the options for secure cycle parking?’
‘Could the Piccadilly car park be open in the evening? Could it be open at the same time as the shopping centre?’
‘Could the dead space, under the ground could be used for secure cycling parking?’
Cycling provision in Coppergate: The masterplan suggests a one way bus route with contraflow cycling
Cycling and Disability
Questions asked included:
‘We’ve talked before about a cycling Blue Badge for people who are able to cycle but not walk long distances’
‘the right to cycle in pedestrian areas during the day’
‘Blue Bridge – is not that accessible’
Andy said that in terms of movement Piccadilly is not going change that much in terms of what it is and what it does. Andy introduced the idea that while we have two bus stops on Piccadilly now we can go down to one (because one of the bus stops is just a waiting stand ). At the top of Piccadilly there is a lot of bus activity, but it works well and it is where people want to get on and off the bus.
‘Could Piccadilly be used as an alternative entry point to Walmgate for buses?’
Andy outlined the current thinking. Castle Car Park currently has 27 disabled parking spaces. Castlegate will be fully pedestrianised in order to make it safe in regard to counter terrorism. This means no blue badge parking in the footstreets and there will be a lot of city centre measures / bollards which are a big challenge for people with mobility issues. The council is developing a strategy for where disabled parking is going to go overall. In terms of St George’s Field there is only going to be the minimum required amount (7%) as it is not considered to be the right location for disabled parking. There is a working notion that, as shopmobility is already in Piccadilly and there is lift access, there might be a larger number of disabled spaces there with Piccadilly Car Park promoted as a place specifically welcoming for disabled drivers.
Points raised included:
‘Do we need shopmobility on the other side of town too?’
‘CYC give Shopmobility a grant every year. They don’t generate as much revenue nowadays as more people have their own portable mobility scooter and they fit in people’s boots’.
‘In continental cities where they have large footstreet, disabled parking is on the fringes but with free access bus to take them in, given the need to do something city centre wider could we look at sources of funding for a scheme like that?’
One particular issue for flood management in the area is to prevent the Ouse running into the Foss over the roundabout/St George’s Field. One possibility to deal with flooding is raising the level of the whole junction on tower street to create a natural barrier.
‘Do we know what % existing users of Castle Car Park are visitors and local?’ Andy replied that the council monitor’s car parks by how much money is taken. But we know they are not commuter car parks, this is partly to do with cost. People stay 3-4 hours.
Reflecting on the issues Andy said: ‘We spent a day talking to people in the queue for Jorvik and they’d all parked at Castle Car Park because that’s where the signage takes you, you’d never find Piccadilly if you followed signs. We’re competing with other car parks. Smart modern cars will tell you how many spaces – our car parks are not speaking to that system. However, we are currently working to improve these issues with new signage and smart technology’.
Steamrock, who have the lease on Coppergate, are responsible for doing up Piccadilly car park.
In terms of St George’s Field Car Park:
‘Can we have a concierge in car parks as a way reassuring people on multi-storeys?’
‘Can St George’s Field be welcome to people coming into the city?’
The Boer War Memorial
The Green Howards would like to see the war memorial moved to a more prominent location in the public domain.
Comments made included:
‘The Model T Ford was not invented when the memorial was originally sited’
‘Where you would like it to move to?’
‘We want somewhere peaceful, tranquil, with public access, free from cars, no cars when it was put in. In the new public realm with no flooding’
Andy outlined the schedule of different elements. The St George’s Field car park designs are quite advanced; but open to discussion of materials on the outside. There are green walls in the current plans; natural materials; wood materials. It is designed for the motorists as users and as an attractive place to park. It will be implemented with junction and supercrossing and bridge, with a fair wind, by spring 2021 when the multi-storey car park completes. Short term we are waiting on decisions, such as from the West Yorkshire Transport Fund.
• In early March there will be specific events focused on the St George’s Field Car Park (My Castle Gateway)
• We agreed that a public event with Tony Clark, CYC Transport team would be useful to look at the wider issue of the inner ring road (My Castle Gateway to set up)
• Andy to explore closing Lead Mill Lane.
• Andy to explore a pedestrian courtesy crossing across the bottom of Piccadilly at the junction.
• A courtesy crossing could work on Tower Street – could this also help with the flood protection? Andy to link up with Environment Agency.